How the Oracle Japan office set up an LGBTQ community
In a society where sexual orientation is deeply private, three Oracle employees decided to start a community to create awareness around equal rights and support for our LGBTQ colleagues. Their inspiration to start this community came, sadly, from tragedy: the sudden death of an ex-colleague who, despite being openly gay at Oracle, remained closeted at his last employer. The group was deeply affected by their colleague’s passing. It occurred to them that there might be others at Oracle who may feel scared or ashamed to step out.
Yoshiko Nakano, one of the founding members of the Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN) group, spoke about getting the group going. “When we started we only knew what our end goal was: to help create a workplace where the LGBTQ community can feel safe and accepted. But we knew nothing else—we weren’t sure how to get there!”
Yoshiko went on to say, “not all of us are from the LGBTQ community, so we had to first understand the challenges faced by them and how we could foster acceptance at work. We attended seminars to learn more about the needs of the community. In the beginning, we didn’t know of any open LGBTQ colleagues! We had to join external LGBTQ networks, and through them we were able to connect with a few people at work. We joined hands with the Japanese ‘Work and Pride’ organization and started working on how to make our office more LGBTQ-friendly. We started small by doing mini presentations at lunch time, and spoke to anyone who would listen. We also created a mailing list to share relevant content and stories with people.”
Along with creating awareness, the team felt it was important to get leadership support, which they quickly received. The group then offered education for managers to help them understand the impact of unconscious bias and discrimination. Their first workshop was a great success, with a big turnout and enlightened discussion, which has led to the continuation of training for employees.
Making Change Happen
OPEN Japan received tremendous support from their local Legal and HR teams for their efforts, and together extended equal benefits to same-sex partners, changing policies to include “domestic partnerships.” Strong allies Tadahiro Kaneko, the Chief Legal Officer for Oracle Japan, and Yukiko End, the Vice President for Human Resources in Oracle Japan, became OPEN’s executive sponsors to ensure their success.
The Pride Parade
Displaying newfound confidence, 35–40 Oracle employees and their families and friends joined the OPEN group during the Japan Pride Parade in May 2017. Besides participating, OPEN had a booth for the first time, where Oracle chatbot technology was used to welcome everyone to come back and ask questions related to LGBTQ issues.
In giving confidence to the LGBTQ community to know they’re accepted at Oracle, the OPEN Japan group is not stopping! Yoshiko said they know they still have much to do: “We’re working on a company-wide survey for Japan to assess the current situation of sexual minorities. We’re creating an Oracle Japan manual that LGBTQ employees can consult, and we’ve planned a few movie screenings. Good Aging Yells, an NPO dedicated to creating better lives for LGBTQ individuals, plans to create a Pride House in 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics. OPEN Japan will collaborate with them, as well as make a donation through Oracle Japan.”
Onwards and Upwards
While having reached sizeable achievements in a short period of time, the group recognizes the complexity and sensitivity of their mission. “We have taken on the charge of creating an inclusive workplace for the LGBTQ community, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that we have to always adopt a consultative approach. Each LGBTQ person is different, and their needs are different. Unless we hold hands and partner with different groups, our efforts will not be complete,” said Yoshiko.
Going for Gold
OPEN Japan decided to raise the bar and challenge themselves by being ranked by Work with Pride Japan, which awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze ratings on the Pride Index for workplaces, based on how inclusive their policies are for LGBTQ employees.
In 2016, Oracle won Silver in its first application. But this was not good enough, so OPEN coveted the highest Gold rating the next year. In its 2017 application, Oracle was evaluated in five areas:
At the end of 2017, Work with Pride Japan announced that Oracle and OPEN had won Gold! A fantastic achievement and proud moment for the group’s founding members: Yoshiko, Midori Kawamukai & Mariko Akagi.
Please join us in congratulating OPEN Japan for leading the way and making Oracle a great and inclusive place to work for all employees!
If you would like to find out more, or join the OPEN Japan group, please visit OPEN Japan.
For more information about starting an OPEN group in your country, please contact JAPAC Diversity.
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