Posted: 02 Mar. 2022

International Men's Day (Part 1) : "Future team management with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for better outcomes"

Guest: uni‘que Inc. CEO Kazuo Wakamiya November 19, 2021

Report (Part 1)

On November 19, 2021, International Men's Day (*1), an internal event was held to empower Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) . We welcomed Kazuo Wakamiya, CEO of uni‘que Inc. as a guest speaker to discuss "what we should do to create an environment where diverse members demonstrate their fullest potential" with Kensuke Kurihara, Senior Manager at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC, and Mitsuko Azuma, Senior Manager at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC.

*Titles, names, and other information are as of the event. You can also read the second part of the report from HERE.

(*1) International Men's Day: An international day designated on November 19 every year. It started in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999 to promote physical and mental health and well-being of men, as well as gender equality. In recent years, there has been various events in Japan regarding this day.


Profile: Kazuo Wakamiya



Panel discussion

(Summary from the session)

Kurihara: Today's theme is “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)”. In general, I feel that many people still feel that DEI is for women. In today's event, we would like to think about how we can take DEI as our own matters and what kind of action leads to empowering DEI.

Wakamiya-san founded uni‘que Inc., a startup driven mainly around women. What made you start this business?

Wakamiya: One of the reasons I started focusing on empowering female entrepreneurs goes back to when I had participated in a TV program with 100 entrepreneurs about 2 years ago. There was a bathroom break between filming, and there was a long line only in the men's bathroom. In general, women's bathrooms tends to get lined up even when men's bathrooms do not. At that time, no one was lined up at the women's bathrooms, and I thought "There's something weird about this." This led to our current initiative called "Your" (* 2), to empower female entrepreneurs.

We are aiming on increasing the number of female entrepreneurs at the moment, but in the future, we would like to increase the number of entrepreneurs who are considered to be minorities in Japan and are having more difficulties starting businesses, such as people with disabilities or foreign nationals, etc. We want to have more diverse entrepreneurs, so we are working on flexible ways of working, which are not limited by time and place.

(*2) Your: An incubation business by uni‘que Inc., specializing in empowering female entrepreneurs

Kurihara: Is there a culture and atmosphere in Japan that makes it more difficult for women to start businesses?

Wakamiya: I think this is gradually changing, but there are people who still believe that women are not suitable for starting a business, and it puts women at a disadvantage. In addition, some men make women do all of the housework and parenting, so women cannot work the way they want or end up giving up their careers. When it comes to raising funds and acquiring talents for start-ups, women may have more difficult times compared to men. Before embarking on an adventure of "starting a business", women must first "battle" to find weapons and companions. To solve this problem, "Your" is providing support with funds and human resources.

*From the top, Mitsuko Azuma, Kazuo Wakamiya and Kensuke Kurihara

As the majority, men’s change will change the standards of the organization.

Azuma: I have a six-year-old daughter, and I started DEI empowerment activities after returning from my childcare leave. I have been working on DEI in addition to working as a consultant for about five years now because I feel that creating a system to support working parents and an inclusive environment for all benefits everyone, including myself. Kurihara-san works as a member of the Male Network for Gender Equality (*3). How did you start this?

(* 3) Male Network for Gender Equality: A project by volunteer members to create a change in men's awareness and accelerate DEI within Deloitte Tohmatsu Group.

Kurihara: I have two daughters, and my wife is working full-time. So, I split housework and parenting in half with my wife. If it is my turn to pick up my kids, I have to shut down my computer at 5:30 p.m. no matter what. Whether I am in a meeting or on the phone, I have to say I am sorry and go home. I found it very difficult to manage everything each day- picking up my kids, cooking dinner, bathing and putting them to sleep. Both my wife and I have been trying so hard, but it has been very difficult for both of us, and I talked with my wife night after night about whether we could both have successful careers. As we talked, I realized that there are many issues to be solved in terms of workstyle reform and DEI empowerment. While I was thinking of ways to change, I participated in a study group. One of them said, "Everyone knows that empowering DEI is a management strategy. So why do you leave those activities to women, who are currently minorities in business in Japan?" Of course, I believe that it is best to empower DEI with both men and women, but in order to accelerate DEI empowerment, it is vital for men, who are the majority at this point, to make a commitment, so I started these activities.

Wakamiya: I receive many interview and lecture requests regarding gender gap from various companies, but most of the people who contact me are women. As Kurihara-san mentioned earlier, although DEI empowerment is essential for management, most men are not very active as they are not seeing issues like many women who need a change. So, Kurihara-san taking an action sounds great!

Azuma: I am in charge of answering inquiries at DEI in Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting, and I feel that the number of consultations from men regarding childcare leave and flexible working programs has been increasing. Also, more and more men who have taken childcare leave or flexible working program are sharing their experiences, and more managers are encouraging male members who are expecting their babies to take childcare leaves. As a result, the number of paternity leave has increased. Then, women who used to feel sorry for leaving early using flexible working program become much more comfortable physically and emotionally. I feel that when men change, the standards of the whole organization change.

Wakamiya: If working long hours is valued, you may feel bad for working shorter hours. But we need to change the way we think. It's better to be more productive in a short amount of time. I often talk about "hidden exploitative business" (*4). Even if a company says, "We are a good company. We have great environment for our employees to work, and they perform their best", it is no good if all of the burden of housework and parenting is put on their family members at home. Companies that exploit employees to make greater profits are called “exploitative business”, but I believe that it is not enough to have a good environment in the office. Businesses should be aware of all workload including housework and parenting in the society as a whole and ask themselves if they are not exploiting anyone in the society.

(* 4) Exploitative business: In Japan, companies that make their employees work extremely long hours and not pay enough compensation are referred to as “exploitative business”.


Evolve from “factory paradigm” to “art paradigm” to make innovation.

Kurihara: Today's main theme is "Future team management with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for better outcomes". Could you tell us what kind of action is necessary?

Wakamiya: I often talk about how the value paradigm has already changed. In the 20th century, it was called "factory paradigm" and it was basically “the same, the better”. If there was something different, it could be a defective product or even may cause an accident, so we tried to eliminate differences as much as possible. Manualizing was important. It was a time when higher the consistency, higher the performance. However, the value of "consistency" has been declining when products and information are so saturated, and it is time for companies to think about how to create values to differentiate them from others. For example, artists would be highly valued when they make something unique that has not been made before, but if they make the same work that someone else has already made, they will be called as copycat or a rip-off. We call this the "art paradigm".

But many organizations are still at a factory paradigm. When it comes to job hunting, people wear beige trench coats, black recruitment suits, black shoes, and similar hairstyles. How can we create new values with members who have gone through the same old "job hunting" interview? It's weird. Also, "masculine capitalism" tends to be a short run, like a Monopoly game, where people try to monopolize, expand consumption to maximize their own profits, and achieve results in short term, but that burden is imposed on the environment and the future. This is no longer sustainable, so "co-creation", "resilience" and "long-term perspective" are becoming more important.

So far, companies have valued "exclusivity". When we sign a contract, we used to say, "We got best deals on exclusive terms!" but that's not the case anymore. That's why it's important to be inclusive, DEI, as a co-creation point of view rather than exclusivity.


DEI is not for minorities or the weak. "Diversity is at the core of management" and must be addressed seriously.

Wakamiya: DEI is not about helping minorities and the weak, but it is about building an organization and society where everyone can be successful without exploitation and oppression. In an exclusive environment, some people may be comfortable and feel efficient, but it doesn't leverage individual abilities of those who aren't included. In today's VUCA time, diversity increases resilience and performance, and if we do not think inclusively, we will face reputation risk as a company. For example, if a family member who works for a good company in the world says, "I am being exploited by the company", it will have a huge negative impact to the company. We are now in an age where it is not enough to just make profits and increase revenues. After all, we should seriously consider diversity as the core of management.

Kurihara: "Empowering DEI is not about minorities and the weak" is a really important message. As long as this is not widely accepted, the majority will not have a sense of ownership, and we need to emphasize that DEI empowerment will become "social and corporate values". What do you think, Azuma-san?

Azuma: Deloitte Global also found that organizations with an inclusive culture were six times more innovative, six times more adaptive, and three times more productive than those without inclusive culture. In fact, when you come up with ideas for new businesses or improving organizations, the depth and spread of ideas are completely different when people from various backgrounds gather. I think it is necessary to go through this kind of experience and take DEI as each one of our own matters.

Kurihara: All organizations need innovation, so this is really about a survival issue.

(Second part of the report is HERE.)


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group