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Updated on August 23, 2017

Creating Accessible Working Environments and Promoting Greater Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

Based on the philosophy of Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka of creating workplaces that do not offer charity, but rather create an environment that makes it possible for individuals with disabilities to manufacture products that exceed those manufactured by individuals without disabilities, the Sony Group strives to realize an environment in which individuals do not feel held back by their disability and disabilities do not create barriers. Sony is working to create an inclusive workplace environment where employees can build successful careers regardless of any disabilities they may have.

At Sony Group companies in Japan, employment know-how and experience related to past cases are integrated in a dedicated department within the Human Resources Division. This particularly leverages knowledge gained through the special-purpose subsidiaries Sony Taiyo Corporation,*1 which has over 35 years of experience in this field, and Sony Kibou/Hikari Corporation, which specializes in providing employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. These programs support employees with disabilities and undertake programs that leverage the advantages of the Sony Group. Specifically, at joint recruiting events (now in their ninth year) where about 20 Sony Group companies take part, guidance is given to workplaces that are striving to improve their work environments to accommodate new employees with disabilities. Training programs are also implemented to provide the perspective of employees with disabilities to their supervisors and colleagues and vice versa.

Even before the enforcement of Japan's Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, Sony has long taken reasonable accommodation measures tailored to each individual and has also created Group Guidelines. In addition, Sony has set up a consultation system and holds study meetings and promotes the employment of persons with disabilities in a unique way to ensure they have access to important roles across the Group.

Sony also seeks to encourage students with disabilities and their supporters by communicating about its philosophy and programs for the employment of people with disabilities. The aim is to enhance social awareness of diversity and inclusion issues. For example, Sony Taiyo Corporation holds inclusion workshops aimed at providing opportunities for elementary and junior high school students to experience together the fun of science firsthand, regardless of their level of ability.

Sony's commitment in this area extends beyond legal compliance, by making workplaces accessible and actively encouraging greater awareness of diversity and inclusion issues. In fiscal 2016, employees with disabilities accounted for 2.73% of Sony Corporation's workforce, while the average for Sony Group companies in Japan (with over 201 employees) was 2.2% as of March 2016, both well above the 2.0% mandated by Japanese law for companies over a certain size.
  • *1
    Sony Taiyo, Sony's first special purpose subsidiary, has implemented concepts such as universal design and inclusive design—a comprehensive workplace design concept that emphasizes usability, environment and education to meet the needs of people regardless of age or ability—to create a work environment in which anyone can work irrespective of whether or not they have a physical limitation.

Key Activities to Promote Career Development of Individuals with Disabilities at Sony Group
Ties to various organizations (Japan) Sony works with universities and other types of organizations to hold lectures targeting the interests of university students and parties involved in the employment of persons with disabilities. Moreover, Sony has been implementing seminars on job opportunities for university students with disabilities every year since 2004. These seminars are useful to the participants regardless of whether they end up working at Sony or not. Since fiscal 1996, Sony has successively established 16 therapeutic massage facilities throughout Japan and employed visually impaired workers as massage therapists. In addition, as a part of hands-on training for employees, visits to special-purpose subsidiaries of Sony Corporation are held with the aim of encouraging them to embrace diversity in business.
Sony Group
(outside Japan)
In order to learn about the employment of persons with disabilities in Japan, and to apply this to local hiring, supervisors visit special-purpose subsidiaries and Sony Group affiliates throughout Japan and prepare manuals for use in their home countries. In the Asia region, Sony does more than just donate to organizations for persons with disabilities, or help deal with legal requirements; the Group actually makes use of know-how from within Japan to promote hiring of persons with disabilities.
Electronics
(UK)
Sony UK is running a Being Me campaign that is open to all employees, where they can hear the inspirational stories of guest speakers who have overcome great personal difficulties. Speakers at Being Me sessions include, for example, a woman who had set up her own school and then college to ensure a proper education for her children with Autism/Asperger's Syndrome, and a person who had become a successful accountant despite being blind. Such events provide valuable opportunities for employees to hear and think about such matters.
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