Posted: 02 Mar. 2022

International Men's Day (Part2): "Future team management with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for better outcomes"

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

Report (Part 2)

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 first 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 the 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 of Kazuo Wakamiya



Panel discussion

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

(Summary from the session)


Recognizing the "difference" and “unfairness” in the society, is crucial -especially for those without a sense of ownership in DEI empowerment

Kurihara: How can we reach those who still feel DEI empowerment is not for them to take DEI as their own matters?

Wakamiya: Well, this is a really difficult issue, and I've been exploring this quite a bit. When I talk about DEI, I sometimes think that people are abusing the phrase "Everyone is different and that is okay" from the poem "Me, a Songbird, and a Bell" written by Misuzu Kaneko, a children's poet in the Taisho era. The context of the phrase sometimes gets twisted like, "We are all different, so it can't be helped", or "You and I are different, so do your best". Misuzu Kaneko didn't write the poem in that context, but I feel that part was taken out of context.

I often hear people say, "It's not discrimination, it's just differentiation". For example, some people say that women-only train cars are reverse discrimination, but they were created not because women wanted to commute in a less crowded trains, but because there were molesters and violent people who would hurt them. It is not that there is no problem because there is no discrimination, but when a person is forced into unwanted situations due to “differentiation”, and/or “hardship”-it is similar to being “discriminated”. We often overlook this when we are not the ones experiencing it.

I believe that it is important not to make judgements in addition to increasing our diversity. The “E” in DEI stands for “Equity”, not Equality. Since things are designed for the majority in this world, we need support tailored to each individual difference in order to cover structural barriers and ensure fairness, and that starts from recognizing our differences. When we talk about the gender gap, some say, "We should be evaluated solely upon our work, so there's no need to adjust for women", or "Isn’t that reverse discrimination?" However, there are disadvantages - men tend to value men psychologically, and the competitive environment may not even be fair, in the work environment and the evaluation system created by men in the first place. We need to know that these inequalities are embedded in the foundation of our society, and think about ways to correct them.


Understand unconscious biases and use your imagination

Wakamiya: On the other hand, you shouldn't make stereotypes. One of the most common cases is when a woman who had a baby and has been using flexible working program is told, "I changed your assignment to a project with less workload because balancing work and parenting seems difficult". You should consider what kind of support that person want in the first place, but people often assume what that person “would want” without asking.

Also, it is difficult for the majorities to imagine the difficulties the minorities are facing because the society is designed for the majority, and games are designed to make it easier for the majority to play. When talking about selective surnames for the married couple, many men say, "There is no problem as it is". However, if you say "change your surname" to a man when he gets married (instead of his wife changing her surname), I think many will object, and that's because people take it for granted that women are the ones to change their surname. Without this kind of clue, you cannot conduct the proper management now.

A lot of people say, "There are many successful women despite the situation", but we also have to be careful about "survivor bias". It is important to think about how we can use our imagination for the women who have already been forced to drop out under the current system.

There are also men who say, "If you're having difficulties, you should speak up". If you become a minority, you will understand that it is difficult to express a different opinion when, for example, there are 15 women and only one man. There are pros and cons to the idea of setting a quota system, but there are also opinions that only start to appear when the ratio is evenly divided. Therefore, I think it is very important for management to put the system in place first.

Of course, it is important to establish a system within the company, but it is also very important not to reproduce stereotypes. This is something that we can all start from today. The other day, I had a chance to talk with a woman at an event and heard about the diversity training she participated in. When a male manager asked his boss, "What should I do for the careers of female employees?" he said, "Have you ever talked to your wife about her career?" The manager was at a loss for words, and his boss said, "That's the place to start". I think that's really true, and the first step is to be careful about imagination and bias.


Creating a new diversity of values is also important for team management.

Kurihara: There is a picture we use when referring DEI at Deloitte Tohmatsu. On the left, it illustrates that people who are not having any issues are completely unaware that they are privileged.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusionの模式図その2

Wakamiya: On the right shows re-evaluating old values and coming up with new ways from a broader perspective, which I think everyone should do. Specifically, I think it means having diverse values to see things. The picture in the middle shows boxes provided to shorter members. This illustrates support provided to those in need, but the environment has not been changed and it does not change the fact that taller person has more privilege. However, we need to ask fundamental questions like, “Do we need a wall in the first place?” or “How can we create an environment where we perform our best?”

Kurihara: As you can see on the right, once everyone on the team starts thinking about how to get rid of the wall, I think we can accelerate DEI at once. I would like to practice asking questions in team building and team management.

In terms of removing barriers, Deloitte Tohmatsu Group is continuing its Panel Promise initiative, similar to Wakamiya-san's practice of refusing to attend events with disproportionate representation. This initiative asks to have speakers at events and conferences in a balanced manner to represent diverse members. Currently, in many companies and organizations, there are more men than women, but if we continue to have mostly men on the stage, such as in panel discussions, there will be no innovation and no new opinions. This initiative is an effort to solve that. I hope that we will continue to keep Panel Promise and spreading out as a standard.


Each person has different preferences and opinions. Communicate and Learn to understand DEI.

Kurihara: What are the actions that we can take? Are there any ideas?

Azuma: I feel that the ratio of men to women is disproportionate in various situations. But if I have not been involved in DEI activities, I would have become used to the environment and not felt uncomfortable at all. If you have DEI perspective in your mind even for just a little bit, you can sense a little bit of discomfort, and that will lead to imagination which Wakamiya-san mentioned earlier.

Also, when my female colleagues talk to me about parenting, there is a wide range of people, from those who want to focus on their careers to those who want to spend more time with their children, and I felt that there are a lot of differences depending on support of their spouses, so I agree that we cannot categorize them in a single box. I think the first step is to communicate well.

Kurihara: I have a suggestion. I challenge everyone to have personal conversations such as "What do you aspire to be?” or “Are you having any issues?” with people around you at work and at home. I think nothing will change if I am only thinking about my work, and I think the courage to take a step forward starts from a personal connection. It may seem too simple, but I believe that talking about things like "What do you think?" or "How do you work now?" will give you a chance to start the change and make things more empathetic.

Wakamiya: I also try to be a part of different communities or groups on a daily basis. If you do that, you can experience being a minority, such as being the only man in a group of 15 women I mentioned earlier. In places where I'm a minority, when I try to change something, I feel like it's difficult to speak up. The society is currently designed for men as the majority, so if you're there 24/7, you're not going to know how minorities are feeling. I think it's also important to embrace the feeling of "I am not good at doing everything" -getting out of the comfort zone.

Kurihara: That's so true. If you put yourself in minorities’ shoes and once you get used to being a minority, you forget uncomfortableness you had at first. This experience will give us a better understanding of the issue.

Finally, I'm sure all the participants have heard of the term "first penguin" (*3). It's the same for humans. When someone challenges, others follow. I hope that everyone who participated today will take small steps towards empowering DEI and become the first penguins in the community around you. Thank you.

(*3) First penguin: This is a term referring to the first penguin from a group of penguins to jump into the sea to search food, meaning a pioneer who is very first to try something, taking risks.


Empowering DEI is vital for organizations and society so everyone can perform their best, and it is an important element in modern society for management to have better results in a team. Deloitte Tohmatsu Group will continue to empower creating an inclusive environment in which all "differences" become "strengths" including gender equality.

(First part of the report is HERE)


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group