Posted: 02 Mar. 2022 5 min. read

LGBT+ Round Table: Recognizing the “differences” we all have

Event report from 14 December 2021



Take a look at our “Rainbow Table,” where leaders and members discussed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) from LGBT+ perspective - how we can be Ally (*1), how to spread Allyship, what we can do to create a more inclusive environment, what is an ideal workplace or society and more, with following panelists: 

  • Rie Okubo (Deloitte Tohmatsu Group DEI Leader/Partner, Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC)
  • Nana Yamamoto (Partner, Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting LLC)
  • Takeshi Kosaka (Human Resources Division Leader / Partner, Deloitte Tohmatsu Corporate Solutions LLC)
  • And Takekawa, and Amano - Members from Deloitte Tohmatsu Rainbow (*2), an internal LGBT+ Ally Network

--- Titles, names, and other information are as of the event.

(*1) Ally: Those who understand/support LGBT+ community

(*2) Deloitte Tohmatsu Rainbow (DTR): Ally Network (Employee Resource Group) at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group

*From top left, Rie Okubo, Nana Yamamoto, Takeshi Kosaka, Takekawa, Amano (clockwise)

(Summary from the session)


Empowering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to make our “differences” into “strength”

Okubo: I believe the concept of “Equity” has become more popular at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group, we empower Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives for each member to demonstrate their fullest potential, as there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. (Details are HERE.)

For LGBT+ inclusion, we empower from 3 categories – 1. Inclusive environment, 2. Networking and communication, 3. Social impact. As a part of our initiatives, we have an Ally network, “Deloitte Tohmatsu Rainbow (DTR)”.


Why Ally Network Members joined the network -taking care of each other

Okubo: Could you tell us why you joined DTR, our Ally network?

- Takekawa: I had LGBT+ friends while studying abroad. I started to think what I can do as an Ally as I learned about challenges LGBT+ members were facing.

When I studied in the Philippines, my teacher taught me about LGBT+ and in the U.S., I joined LGBT+ parades and events. There are many people who prefer not to talk about their sexuality openly, but through conversations, I got to understand issues and challenges LGBT+ members face, so I wanted to support as an Ally.

- Amano: For me, it was an online event for the entire Deloitte Asia Pacific. A member from Japan firm shared how they transitioned after coming out and how that made them happy to be authentically themselves. Many members from various countries were rooting, including myself -which got me join DTR. As being a minority myself -with mental disability, I would like to create a more inclusive environment.


How to recognize our “differences”

Okubo: I would like to ask Kosaka-san, our Human Resources (HR) Division Leader at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group, on how we can increase LGBT+ Ally.

- Kosaka: Accepting our differences sounds pretty basic, but it is not so simple. We can not force someone to understand and respect something they do not understand. We need each member to gain understandings by themselves.

We can not expect everyone to have 100% understanding from the beginning. We need to start small, from 20%, 30% to increase our understanding. We need grassroots activities as well. I think about how we can empower diversity everyday - not just by announcements and communications from the top.

- Okubo: You are a leader of the largest organization on the panel today. are there any tips when you communicate?

- Kosaka: As a leader, I always think about how my words get “received” -not how I “delivered”. I need to be extra conscious of what members think. The gap between leaders and members is also a diversity.

- Okubo: In the Human Capital, Yamamoto-san provides consulting services related to diversity.

- Yamamoto: How much you can “relate” is the key. I have a LGBT+ friend who is very open and positive on coming out. So, I did not have any boundaries. However, when we try to empower initiatives as an organization, you may not realize that there are LGBT+ members, but we need everyone to think that there may be LGBT+ members around you. At the same time, we do not want LGBT+ members to feel any pressure to come out if they do not wish to do so. Each person has different preferences. Thus, we need each and every one of us to take LGBT+ inclusion as their own issue. As Kosaka-san mentioned, grassroots activities are also important.

To recognize and take inclusion as your own issue

Okubo: Do DTR members have any ideas on what we can do to “recognize” our differences that we are not aware of and take inclusion as your own issues?

- Amano: Always keep in mind that there may be LGBT+ members around you even if you do not know.

- Takekawa: One of my closest friends is LGBT+ and I realized what they are seeing is totally different from what I am seeing. I can use women’s restroom without worrying about anything, but my friend who is transgender cannot use the restroom according to their gender identity. This was a shock to me. I have also heard from other members that it is difficult for same-sex couples to find a place to rent. It is important to talk with LGBT+ members to put yourself in their shoes.

- Okubo: Hearing real stories makes a huge difference.

There is an idea about adding your pronouns in e-mail signatures if you wish. (*3) It takes courage to be out, but also a great idea to express your pronouns in a meeting or a signature.

(*3) Recently, more people choose to indicate their pronouns such as “She/her/hers”, “He/him/his” and “They/them/theirs” etc. In some social media, you can indicate your pronouns in the bio section.

- Amano: It would be good to have a short message like “I am an ALLY” at the end of your signature, even without your pronouns. Showing that you are an Ally means a lot to LGBT+ members and it may spread Allyship to other members as well.

- Yamamoto: We have our original Ally stickers. I have one on my PC, and it is great to have tools including signatures to show Allyship.

- Okubo: I have an Ally sticker on my ID, so many people would see it.


Start from recognizing that everyone has “differences” regardless of their traits

Okubo: What about how we can create more inclusive environment? What is an ideal workplace?

- Yamamoto: One goal is for everyone to recognize that we are all “different”, regardless of traits like LGBT+ or gender. Each person has different values and priorities depending on situations– for example, balance of work and family. It is more of a gradation and everyone is different. So, there are infinite differences. It may be difficult to understand all of them. When you say “LGBT+”, it includes many things - sexual identity, sexual orientation, coming out, being closeted, and more. It ultimately goes back to what that individual wants. We need to be aware of those “differences” in our everyday lives to create more inclusive environment for all, including LGBT+ members.

- Okubo: How are Japanese companies viewing inclusive workplace in general?

- Yamamoto: Regarding diversity and women empowerment, we sometimes receive questions such as “It would be better to do so, but are the any positive impacts?” Companies that have been successful may not see the need to change. Younger generations and HR tend to go for change, but it may result in internal conflicts.

- Okubo: We need to be able to speak why we need DEI empowerment in our own words to convince other people.

- Kosaka: As Yamamoto-san mentioned earlier, everyone is different. We need to respect our visible and invisible differences. We all need to start from trying step by step to understand each other to achieve our goal.


Following our first session, we re-recognized the importance of understanding our differences. Deloitte Tohmatsu Group will keep working towards #Inclusion and #Well-being for all through understanding our “differences” based on the concept of #Equity. 

LGBT+ Round Table: Learn about our differences, and Create an inclusive environment for all

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives at Deloitte Tohmatsu Group

About the Author