Employee-led Activities in Support of Para Sports（MS&AD Insurance Group）
At the Hiroshima Business Forum for Global Peace held in September 2021, businesspeople held discussions on the topic “How we can revitalize the world and build an even better global community in 2021—Conquering the pandemic and overcoming discrimination, disparities and national favoritism.” From among the participating companies, we spoke with KURATA Hidemichi, Deputy General Manager of Corporate Planning Department and Sports Team Manager of Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Company, about the company’s initiatives.
In relation to the session’s theme of “Promotion of diversity & inclusion,” we have been contributing to the promotion of sports on the understanding that sports can be a catalyst for social change. Since 2014 in particular, we have been providing consistent support for para sports. The original impetus for these efforts was the contacts we made in the course of our insurance business with people who had sustained disabilities in automobile accidents. This led us to sponsor the Japan Wheelchair Basketball Federation (JWBF) from 2006 onwards.
It was in this context that an in-house sports team was formed following the decision to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2013. The first thing we considered in order to carry out our activities as an organization was internal awareness, with employees participating in support for para sports. We decided to conduct a questionnaire on every occasion and keep the data so that changes in awareness and behavior could be measured. The results are disclosed at management meetings and Sustainability Committee meetings. The number of employees participating in the program is steadily increasing, and awareness is steadily rising as employees themselves are encouraging each other to volunteer.
One outcome of this is that we collaborate with and sponsor sports associations for people with disabilities in each prefecture and are also involved in volunteer work to organize regional tournaments. In collaboration with local governments, we also rolled out activities involving sport-related projects at the prefectural and municipal levels. In FY2021, we conducted about 140 such events and have received recognition from prefectural governments and related organizations as a “company that works hard with us.” Levels of understanding with respect to para sports are steadily increasing within the company.
Creating a receptive environment and corporate culture for employing people with disabilities
We are also actively developing these partnerships with local communities in terms of employment. One of these initiatives involves collaboration with local special needs schools. Specifically, it involves inviting people with intellectual disabilities for internships to provide them with hands-on experience in the workplace, which leads to employment opportunities. This approach is being proactively rolled out across the company as a community-based model. Moreover, the MS&AD Group is also creating various employment opportunities throughout the Group, including the establishment of a special subsidiary, MS&AD Ability Works, in June 2018, as well as developing work processes suitable for people with disabilities and applying them to the development of the Group’s businesses.
In addition to ensuring and developing a receptive environment for employment, we have focused on creating systems and spaces that allow people with disabilities to work comfortably. At our company, all employees with disabilities and able-bodied employees work side by side at their desks. This is a way to make communication easier on a regular basis. Furthermore, as part of our efforts to create opportunities for people with disabilities to play an active role, we have established “Administrative Support Centers” in major areas throughout Japan. These centers are designed to support people with disabilities so that they can take charge of their work without anxiety and find fulfillment in their work.
In the course of these efforts, employees will develop a variety of new insights. We believe that it is by building up this kind of insight that innovation is born.
Developing talent for building an inclusive society through industry-academia collaboration
Since 2018, we have been working with Sophia University in an industry-academia collaboration based on the common philosophy of “developing talent for building an inclusive society.” We are developing a wide variety of initiatives, such as holding joint lectures on the subject of para sports, organizing exchange events and visits to international competitions such as the Asian Para Games, and collaborating with local governments to provide on-demand classes at elementary schools.
In FY2020, Sophia University established the Institute of Inclusive Community. The Institute conducts surveys and research on inclusive societies in all areas, not only with respect to people with disabilities but also regarding victims of recent major natural disasters and people from other countries with different cultural backgrounds. While industry-academia collaborations have often had business as their objective, we aim to make proposals to society and achieve change with an academic approach.
We believe that these unique initiatives will lead to the implementation of the “true meritocracy” outlined in the Hiroshima Appeal 2021.
MS&AD is home to 23 athletes (including 16 para-athletes) (as of March 2022). Top athletes often travel abroad, and when we see actual conditions overseas from the perspective of diversity and an inclusive society, we are keenly aware that Japanese standards are still far from those of the rest of the world. A truly peaceful society is one in which diverse range of people can mix and enjoy sports in the same way. We hope that Hiroshima, an influential city for communicating world peace, will create a “Hiroshima Model” for an inclusive society that can be rolled out to every prefecture. We are also willing to cooperate and work together for this purpose.
Our efforts to support para sports, launched to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, have achieved a certain level of success. In the future, we intend to refine and enhance the quality of each of our current initiatives.
Deputy General Manager of Corporate Planning Department and Sports Team Manager,
Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Company
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