Mar 19, 2022
[Column] Organizations and Society Valuing Diversity

Monthly column in Asahi Newspaper Hokkaido version
March 19, 2022. Noyuri Mima

 I have returned to Japan from the U.S. for a six-month stay. Five years ago, I wrote about what I could see by immersing myself in a different environment; I noticed the difference in the flow of time and proximity to people moving from Tokyo to Hakodate.

 During this stay in the U.S., I saw the existence of people who value diversity and their power of action. They were doing innovations to enrich and maintain the composition of their organizations, including gender, race, ethnicity, and age, toward a society where everyone can live in peace.

 Although diversity has recently been emphasized in Japan, we have not seen much change.

 There was a long period in the U.S. when white males were the predominant group in many professions. If we continue to recruit in the same way and with the same mindset, we will not be able to make our organizations more diverse.

 Therefore, they are changing their hiring criteria while trying to train their employees to match the rapidly changing society.

 The organization may be less efficient than hiring people with immediate skills in the short term. In the long term, however, taking advantage of the strengths of a diverse group of members is more than just adding them together; it opens up the possibility for something new to emerge.

 What will you do to increase that potential? After hiring, they create a system and environment for development that will help them improve their abilities. This will lead to opportunities to develop the strengths of those already there. Having a diverse membership makes an organization more resilient to change.

 On March 8, International Women’s Day, various events were held worldwide. For example, at my university in the U.S., a group of students started an activity several years ago to enhance the technical skills of women. The idea is to receive guidance from experts and expand their network to faculty, staff, and other universities.

 Data science is essential not only in research but also in business. To apply it to their work, students and staff of all ages, science and humanities majors alike, gather together to encourage each other and offer advice.

 The top-down activities of changing recruitment standards and establishing a training system, and the bottom-up activities of learning and improving technical skills. Actions that bring about change lead to progress, improvement, and growth.

 This column has continued for five years, and this is my last one. Twenty-one years ago, on September 11, I was in the United States. And this time, the Ukraine issue. I hope that we will continue to make progress on global issues, both from the top-down and bottom-up, even if it takes time, and that the world will become more peaceful.