Companies in Japan are strengthening their support for minorities known as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, amid growing social understanding for members of that community.
Some companies are making efforts to create a better work environment for LGBT employees, and others are participating in LGBT-related events.
Public attention on companies’ responses to LGBT people is expected to increase at a time when Japanese society is showing greater understanding toward them.
According to a survey conducted by major ad agency Dentsu Inc. in 2015 for some 70,000 people aged between 20 and 59 across Japan, 7.6 percent said they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Based on these numbers, the country’s market for products and services for sexual minorities is estimated at ¥5.94 trillion. In the survey, 53 percent said they are willing to use products and services of firms that support LGBT people. In light of this, Dentsu believes that companies in Japan will further intensify their support activities.
In March 2014, Gap Japan K.K., a unit of U.S. casual wear retailer Gap Inc., launched an in-house workshop to help staff at the personnel division of its headquarters and flagship stores learn basic knowledge about and deepen understanding for LGBT people.
Gap Japan also held a work experience event for young LGBT people at an outlet in Tokyo. “We are eager to express our support for LGBT people more widely through a range of activities,” a company official said.
Lush Japan Co., an affiliate of British cosmetics retailer Lush Ltd., partially overhauled its personnel management system in January 2015, enabling LGBT employees to take child care or nursing leave in the same way as other employees if they register as having same-sex partners.
An official at the company said there had been concerns that the system may be abused, but added, “We made the decision because it is important to try.”
An increasing number of companies are assisting LGBT events.
Many have cooperated in a project to take photographs of LGBT people, which was launched by a nonprofit organization called good aging yells, with Shiseido Co. supplying its cosmetic products and Gap Japan dispatching more than 50 employees and providing some 1,000 items of clothing. A bridal service company lent its studio for photo shoots, and a vehicle importer supported fundraising.