Initiatives to Promote Women’s Empowerment

Promoting Women’s Empowerment

  • The Sumitomo Rubber Group

As part of efforts to promote diversity & inclusion (D&I), we consider the empowerment of women in the workplace to be a key challenge. Accordingly, we develop frameworks for helping female workers avoid the disruption of their career development as well as programs designed to nurture female leaders. Moreover, we conduct questionnaires targeting all employees to identify matters inhibiting women’s advancement in addition to helping them nurture career awareness, assisting them in their efforts to strike a work-life balance, fostering a culture supportive of women’s success and encouraging mutual understanding among the entire workforce. In addition to helping raise career awareness, in 2021 we instituted a mentoring system to nurture female leaders. In terms of supporting an optimal work-life balance, we have enhanced the content of interviews with individual female employees to help them prevent the disruption of their career development while striving to secure a deeper understanding of our assistance programs among the workforce. We also focus on encouraging male employees who are fathers to play greater roles in child rearing. Furthermore, we endeavor to raise employee awareness regarding unconscious bias to facilitate the development of an inclusive workplace environment that enables every employee, no matter their eligibility for the above programs, to work with confidence.

Initiatives to Promote Women’s Empowerment

Mentoring System

This system was instituted in 2021 with the objective of nurturing female leaders. Based on this system, we aim to enable individuals confronting career-related issues (mentees) to seek counsel from senior colleagues from different departments (mentors) and thereby receive insightful advice that will help the former clarify their future career visions. In addition, we plan to gradually expand the scope of both mentors and mentees by developing a cycle of hosting mentoring skill training sessions in which external mentors serve as lecturers to nurture in-house mentors, thus accommodating mentoring needs among a broad range of employees.

Encouraging Male Employees to Play Greater Roles in Child Rearing

Sumitomo Rubber Industries believes that encouraging male employees who are fathers to play greater roles in child rearing will be key to developing a workplace culture that is supportive to women’s empowerment and comfortable to diverse employees. Therefore, we strive to encourage eligible employees to take childcare leave. To that end, we have started out with holding corporate ethics lecture sessions for all officers, including the President, as well as all managerial employees in 2022. Furthermore, in 2023 we implemented education for non-managerial employees regarding the relationship between a highly productive organization and D&I measures, including those aimed at encouraging the utilization of childcare leave among male employees. In these ways, we have continuously endeavored to facilitate a robust understanding and awareness of this subject among employees. Also, the President himself became the first to issue a declaration of supporting staff engaged in child rearing, with all other managerial employees following suit in expressing their commitment to taking action to practice a management approach focused on supporting a work-life balance for their staff as well as for themselves. Furthermore, we strive to foster a positive workplace culture by, for example, featuring articles regarding model managers who proactively advocate for the promotion of D&I in in-house news postings. In 2023, we aim to raise the ratio of eligible male employees who take childcare leave or otherwise utilize relevant programs to 100%.


Manuals Regarding How to Strike a Work-Life Balance

We have prepared various manuals regarding how to strike a work-life balance as part of efforts to support employees who confront difficulties in balancing work and changes arising from life events, including the need to engage in childcare or family nursing care. For employees engaged in childcare, we compiled a manual for such employees themselves, their spouses and family members while issuing a separate manual for their supervisors. Moreover, we have developed a similar manual for part-time employees or contract employees so that they can utilize various assistance programs with confidence. These manuals also feature explanations of our diverse programs designed to support employees in various stages, including pregnancy, birthing, childcare leave and post-leave reinstatement, as well as articles on measures undertaken at the workplace level, such as those related to performance evaluation and target management. Other articles included are columns and essays, including a number written by employees who are mothers or fathers to share their experience. We thus utilize these manuals to support both employees engaged in child rearing and their supervisors while raising their awareness.

Officer Education

When it comes to promoting D&I, we consider securing top management’s commitment a matter of extreme importance. Accordingly, we proactively create opportunities for officers, including the President, to be educated on the subject and engaged in dialogue and the exchange of suggestions with employees. As part of these efforts, we have hosted annual corporate ethics lecture sessions for the President and all other officers and managerial employees. These sessions were held on the theme of unconscious bias in 2020, LGBTQ+ in 2021 and childcare leave for men in 2022. Furthermore, in March 2023 we implemented study sessions and discussions hosted by outside directors and outside Audit & Supervisory Board members with the attendance of all officers, including the President, to take a deeper look into the importance of women’s empowerment and the latest trend of initiatives to this end. Subsequently, in April 2023, we held a dialogue session attended by the President and female general managers. This event served as a good opportunity for both the top management and female leaders to exchange their unfettered opinions regarding issues confronting the Company in the terms of women’s empowerment and suggestions on future initiatives in this area.


Enhancing Work Systems Designed to Support a Work-Life Balance

  • The Sumitomo Rubber Group

In addition to promoting reductions in the amount of after-hours work performed by employees and the greater use of paid leave, we are moving forward with the introduction of diverse workstyles that take into consideration childcare and nursing care in order to add variety to work and support efforts to balance work and family. The result of these and other efforts has been that 100% of female employees who have given birth have taken full advantage of childcare leave. In addition, in 2022, male employees who took childcare leave accounted for 19.9% of all eligible employees, an increase of 4 percentage points year on year.

In fiscal 2009 we became the first company in the tire industry to be certified for the “Kurumin” mark based on the Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next-Generation Children and have since continued to support childcare. In 2020, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare awarded the Company “L-boshi (third level)” certification, which is given only to businesses that have superior arrangements for encouraging the active participation of women. In March 2023, we were certified as a “Hyogo Kobe Women’s Empowerment Business (Mimoza Company)” under a joint program established by Hyogo Prefecture and Kobe City to commend corporations and other entities taking a proactive stance to promoting women’s empowerment and introducing diverse workstyles. Moreover, we opened an external counseling desk to provide nursing care-related counseling to employees while holding periodic nursing care seminars that address differing subjects each year. As such, we strive to enhance the content of supportive measures available to employees engaged in nursing care.

“L-boshi (third level)” certification granted by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare
A mark of “Hyogo Kobe Women’s Empowerment Business (Mimoza Company)” granted under a joint program established by Hyogo Prefecture and Kobe City

Updating Various Work Systems to Support Diverse Workstyles

In step with the recent shift in the social environment, we have introduced and updated various systems and programs designed to accommodate diverse workstyles. Going forward, we will explore even better work styles while heeding voices from employees.

Work-from-Home System

In 2022, we officially instituted a work-from-home system, building on the outcome of the trial implementation of this system through which we have confirmed that working from home has become a plausible option among diverse workstyles. Under this system, employees are asked to commute to physical offices at least four days a month while being allowed to adopt flexible workstyles upon adjustment and consultation with their departments.

Childcare Leave

Sumitomo Rubber Industries allows employees to take childcare leave until their child’s second birthday. Childcare leave can also be divided into separate periods. As part of initiatives to encourage male employees to take childcare leave, we have issued a manual designed to assist employees in their pursuit of a good balance between child rearing and work, while the department in charge of human resource management sends e-mails to employees whose spouses give birth to the child as well as to their supervisors to encourage the use of the childcare leave system.

Flexible Use of the Shortened Working Hour System

We reviewed internal regulations on the shortening of working hours. This resulted in the revision of the regulations to enable employees to flexibly switch from working full-time to working shorter hours, or vice versa, making it possible for them to shift their workstyles more flexibly based on differing needs arising from their life stages.

Paid-Leave Rights Preservation System Designed to Support Employee Livelihood

Sumitomo Rubber Industries enables employees to utilize their accumulated paid-leave rights in hourly units for childcare, nursing care, hospital visits and other private undertakings.

Granting Paid Leave for Care-Giving for Sick Child in Hourly Units

We have granted paid leave to employees who engage in care-giving for sick children. In conjunction with the revision of relevant laws, we have made it possible for such employees to take paid leave in hourly units.

Temporary Leave to Accompany Spouse Overseas System

This system allows employees to take temporary leave when they accompany their spouses on overseas assignments, with the maximum of one year of leave granted per one destination. Moreover, when applicants are deemed to have justifiable reasons, this system enables them to extend the initial one-year period up to four times and thus take leave for a maximum five years.

Status of Employees Who Took Childcare Leave, Worked Shorter Working Hours or Took Nursing Care Leave (Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., non-consolidated)

Number or % of employees who took or opted for: Fiscal 2017 Fiscal 2018 Fiscal 2019 Fiscal 2020 Fiscal 2021 Fiscal 2022
Childcare leave Male (%) 2.1 2.3 3.8 5.4 15.0 19.9
Female (%) 100 100 100 100 100 100
Shorter working hours Male (Persons) 1 1 2 0 0 0
Female (Persons) 14 15 22 17 20 20
Nursing care leave Male (Persons) 2 2 2 0 2 1
Female (Persons) 0 1 0 0 0 0