Posted: 03 Dec. 2020 4 min. read

How being “challenged” changes with society and How creating a better society impacts Everyone

Series : Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

*This is an English translation of the D-NNOVATION article issued by Deloitte Tohmatsu Group on December 3, 2020. If there is any discrepancy between the Japanese version and the English translation, the Japanese version shall prevail.


Sign language, glasses and social barriers

“The next era is named as 'Reiwa'. ”

Did anyone notice that on April 1, 2019, the frame with the new era name(*1), written as “Reiwa,” held by Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary at the time, was accidentally “covered” by the sub-screen showing sign language interpreter?

(*1: In Japan, the name of the “era” changes every time the new emperor ascend to the throne.)

During the time, on social media, while some criticism arouse saying it blocked the view, it was also welcomed as a historic moment. When the previous era name, “Heisei,” had been announced 30 years ago, there was no sign language interpreter, so hard of hearing people had to just stare at the letters in the frame. Now, when there is a big announcement for the country, sign language interpreter is there.

As you know, when you say “challenged,” it varies from something visible to something invisible. Little thoughts and care in the society, social systems, and infrastructure, could mean a lot. Being “challenged” is a concept greatly affected by the “model of the society,” depending on the kind of support or tools provided.

There are cases where a “tool” is so popular to the extent it is not even noticed. For example, have you ever wondered, “How many people would be considered as hard of seeing if there were no glasses or contact lenses in the world?” If there is no such tools, quite many people who think themselves not “challenged” may turn out to be “challenged.”


Hiring members with disabilities

In Japan, there is an official scheme of “Employment for Persons with Disabilities” to support persons with disabilities. In 2006, Tohmatsu Challenged Co., Ltd. was established as a special subsidiary of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC. -focusing on hiring people with disabilities and each of our business entities are also empowering persons with disabilities, based on each business characteristics.

Their work varies from providing mail services to offering pantry services, setting up PC, managing documents and administrative work such as finance and HR, creating novelty goods, managing massage room, and gardening. There are over 200 members with disabilities working at our group. The most important idea is to hire and develop each talents as professionals in their specific areas. Members who joined Tohmatsu Challenged have wide ranges of career paths within Deloitte Tohmatsu Group, which is one of the unique factors of us. 

One of the things required to empower members with disabilities is providing “reasonable accommodation” at work. The law requires the employers to provide reasonable accommodation to make sure members with disabilities have equal opportunities and treatments. Starting from having supporters at job interviews if required, providing consultation with internal specialists, providing job experiencing opportunities and manuals, and working to accommodate to each member’s special needs so that members can demonstrate their full potentials for long career paths–just to name a few of our initiatives at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group. 


Creating a society for everyone

In this ever changing world, what being “challenged” means has also been changing. For example, Deloitte Tohmatsu Group used to encourage people to commute to the office every day, which may had been quite difficult for persons who could work only by remote. However, during COVID-19, remote work has become the new norm so that the “barrier” is gone. The society where everyone can empower has more sustainability and companies with talented professional members regardless of being “challenged” or not, will have more social value and will become more competitive globally.

A president of one of the special subsidiary companies once said, “We will all become somewhat challenged as we get older. Then, people are going to say “You can’t do this. You can’t do that. We don’t need you at work.” Are you okay with that kind of society?” When you think about changes you can make to create more inclusive society, it becomes a step towards more comfortable society to everyone.

Due to the “Act for Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities”, this is currently a hot topic in businesses –as companies are required to meet the statutory employment rate of persons with disabilities –which ratio is determined to be raised to 2.3% from March, 2021.  

Today, December 3, is an “International Day of People with Disability.” (*2) In Japan, the week of 12/3 to 12/9 is a “Week for Persons with Disabilities.”

Let’s take this opportunity to think about how the society is structured around for those being “challenged”. We are convinced that each person’s thoughts and care will contribute to making the world better place for everyone to empower.

(*2)International Day of People with Disability: It is a day designated by United Nations in 1992 to promote understanding and to empower challenged people. In Japan, Article 9 of the “Basic Act for Persons with Disabilities” states that week from December 3 to December 9 to be the “Week for Persons with Disabilities.”

*Since June 2023, Deloitte Tohmatsu Group has adopted the term of “Diverse Abilities” (instead of “Disabilities”) to create an inclusive environment where each and every member can fully demonstrate the power and potentials.

■This article has been written with the support from members of Tohmatsu Challenged Co. Ltd. and the designated HR team at Deloitte Tohmatsu Corporate Solution LLC. Take a look at further overview of Tohmatsu Challenged Co., Ltd.  as well as their initiatives. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group

About the Author