Panel Promise: A way of Innovation from Diverse Members and Perspectives Bookmark has been added
*This is an English translation of the D-NNOVATION article issued by Deloitte Tohmatsu Group on October 30, 2020. If there is any discrepancy between the Japanese version and the English translation, the Japanese version shall prevail.
On September 16, 2020 (the 2nd year of Reiwa era), Yoshihide Suga –Japan’s 99th Prime Minister has established the Suga Cabinet. It was the first Cabinet to be formed in the Reiwa era, which can be referred as the cabinet for a new era.
What has buzzed around the various media including social, was probably the formation of the cabinet –mainly around the generation of members and the women representation. In particular, many of you may have seen an article with a photograph comparing the Suga Cabinet with Finland’s Cabinet –which is fully diverse from various perspectives on the other hand. Finland's cabinet has 11 women out of 19 members as of the end of September, and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who became the Prime Minister in December 2019 at the age of 34, is the third female prime minister in history.
The media has been pointing out various things; "The average age of Cabinet members in the Suga Cabinet is 60.38 years old, and there are only 2 women out of the 20 Cabinet members”, “It is so different from Japan where Cabinet members are dominated by elderly men" etc. All those comments can be summarized as "How will the Cabinet manage the nation by reflecting the voice of the people – when they are not representing attributes and diversity of the 120 million nationals at all?".
From the global standpoint, the movement for diversity has been empowered more than ever -not only in politics but also in all industries and fields.
In September, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which sponsors the Academy Awards ®, has created a diversity category as one of the conditions for being nominated for the Best Picture. With this in effect from 2024, it would be required to have more women and ethnic minorities after the long-standing criticism of having too few nominations or awards for films by directors and actors of color. Some of you may recall the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite -originated from the fact that all 20 nominees were white in 2016.
The reality is more diversified than fictions. As the media becomes more interactive and the movie becomes more familiar, we naturally take it biased or even fake -when it is “unnaturally-unreal”.
Also in September, the World Economic Forum has posted an article on thier website saying “The reseach has found out that female birds also sing -which had become clear in the last 20 years of research -while it had been traditionally believed that only male birds sing. Women’s engagement into this field led to further research on female birds". Even the academic research may miss something crucial when it is biased due to the lack of diversity in talent.
Deloitte Tohmatsu Group introduced the "Panel Promise" in February this year, aiming to empower diverse perspectives. Panel Promise is an initiative to achieve a balanced representation of "40% (Men): 40% (Women) : 20% (buffer to facilitate diversity)" in the panels of events, forums, etc., to be held in the Asia-Pacific region. All internal and external events and forums where our group members shall present, will be covered. When we were to sponsor external events and/or forums, we will kindly ask the hosts to fulfill the Panel Promise. Our commitment is so high that we may consider withdrawing to participate when it is difficult to achieve this initiative.
In addition to gender equality standpoint, we expect to empower more diverse discussions and perspectives by having underrepresented groups of both “visible diversity” such as races, as well as “invisible diversity” such as experiences -within our “20% (buffer to facilitate diversity)”. For example, there have been many cases where only "Japanese & Executive Male" members appeared on the stage depending on the themes and sizes of the event, just like the representation of Japan’s Cabinet mentioned in the beginning. The participation of young members in these discussions will further engage the young audience, leading towards more multilateral learnings and diverse discussions.
Panel Promise is not about playing around the numbers to showcase the diversity. It ultimately aims to encourage innovative and high-quality dialogues and discussions by pursuing the new values and new perspectives originated from diversity, that had not been seen before. Therefore, the hypothetical comment such as "There are only men experts in this field", has already been factored in. If they think there is no "woman expert", it may be necessary to reconsider the definition of "expert" in the first place, in addition to analyzing why there is no one and how to develop further then.
The COVID-19 has emerged right after the launch of Panel Promise, and we cannot help but wonder what we want from the events and what they really mean to us. Now that “information” is more than abundant everywhere, what we want from the events and forums can be rather “perspectives”, “values” and “findings” than just information itself. If that is the case, it is obvious that we can have more values, perspectives and findings from the “members with various different factors -backgrounds, experiences and values” than “members sharing all those factors in common”.
As we live In a society where diversity is empowered more than ever, fairness and diversity are considered to be the "norm" and not-diverse situation shall give a sence of "gap/discomfort", which leads to a negative impression of “exclusive" just like the episode of the members of the Cabinet mentioned in the beginning,
What we need to pursue in the future economy and society, is how to empower "difference" as the factor of "strength" and "value", definitely not “gap/discomfort” - while there are various factors that make up "differences" such as gender, generation, race, and culture.
"Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)" has been one of the key management strategies at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group -to drive the organizational and client growth to be leveraged for social impact. DEI Team is a group of DEI professionals to closely work with the top management -to design and implement a wide range of initiatives to turn various "differences" -such as gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, cultural differences including religion and language, and disabilities, into a source of “strength”. (See further details from HERE).