Leading from the Living Room: PMJ

In our first Leading from the Living Room webinar for 2021, we were joined by Aaron Carmichael, Director People & Culture Japan of Philip Morris Japan (PMJ). PMJ is a pioneer of global transformation and innovation in areas of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Aaron spoke with our Client Lead in Japan, Natsumi Funabiki, about DEI barriers; PMJ’s programs and initiatives; and male engagement and allyship.

PMJ is proud to have achieved:

  • 100% return rate from maternity leave
  • 0.4% gender pay gap difference, compared to approximately 25% average gender pay gap in Japan
  • This year, 46% of senior-level promotions were female and 50% of new hires were female

What are some of the main barriers that you have encountered and how have you overcome them?

1. Resistance to change

  • Fuelled by bias and a lack of understanding, or fear of losing jobs, employees may ask,”why are we doing these things around diversity and inclusion?”
  • It’s important to show how diversity and inclusion engages employees, adds productivity and increases satisfaction – to make the purpose of DEI clear.

2. Lack of commitment from leaders

  • Successful DEI strategies are strongly linked to leadership buy-in from the top. If you don’t have the money, resources, ambition or time, you can try to persuade leaders from the middle, but this is much more difficult.
  • Inclusive leaders develop inclusive leaders. Look for leaders who are inclusive and embrace diversity, they will support and drive initiatives – leaders who not only say they’re committed, but show they’re committed.

3. Having a clear strategy

  • Ask the question of ‘to what end?’
  • The strategy can’t be a DEI strategy – it needs to be a business strategy that DEI is woven into through goals, strategy and measurement. 
  • Measurement should include KPI’s on female hiring, development of female leadership, and how opportunities are being given to female talent.

What are some DEI programs and initiatives that you have successfully deployed at PMJ?

  • Gender
    • Equal salary
      • PMJ partnered with EQUAL-SALARY for certification through conducting a full audit in Japan during 2016, 2017 and 2018. They now have global equal salary certification and are sitting at less than 0.4% difference (compared to approx. 25% in Japan prior to audits).
    • Maternity returnship
      • PMJ found that 60% of mothers aged 30+ do not return to work due to 2 main challenges:
        1. Money –  long waiting list for nursery vs. too expensive for private childcare
        2. Working hours – returning employees often require reduced hours
      • PMJ set up practical solutions:
        • A new maternity and childcare policy
        • Reduced hours for returning mothers with full pay for the first 3 years
        • Additional pay towards nursery tuition up to the first 7 years
  • Disability
    • PMJ partnered with an external consultant in order to understand Japanese culture around disability, holding education sessions with leaders and employees on how to lead and support people with not only physical disability, but also mental disability.
    • The outcome was PMJ hiring employees with ranging physical or mental disabilities, and striving towards their own target which is above the required quota.

What are some ways of approaching DEI with older generations, keeping male managers engaged in the gender conversation, and encouraging male employees to take paternity leave?

  • Confront conscious vs. unconscious bias and openly discuss how to control these biases, in order to help employees understand and adapt their mindset
  • Educate male leaders on how to effectively manage a diverse team
  • Challenge the existing culture and why some employees are holding onto it
  • Get down to the root cause of the resistance – some of it is illogical and this is only realised when explored
  • Include male leaders and employees in the development and design of initiatives, so they feel like they are part of the solution
  • PMJ Paternity Leave – Key Factors
    • Currently rolling out a global program of 8 weeks’ paternity/caregivers leave
    • Adjusting the KPIs of the remaining team to reduce employee guilt
    • Highlighting role models and examples of success to change mindset and perception

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