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BUSINESSBUSINESS index Nurturing vitality among disabled employees Aspiring to a relaxed environment where everyone can work happily- Sony Kibou/Hikari Corporation - : Sony Kibou/Hikari Corporation was established to employ people with intellectual disabilities who wish to work, thereby providing them with opportunities to participate in society. We interviewed several people about initiatives aimed at creating an environment and developing a workplace where disabled people can take up new challenges with enthusiasm, and about the general working atmosphere.

The history of operational expansion is also the history of initiatives at Sony Kibou/Hikari


  • Hiroyuki Muto, Representative Director

Muto: Sony Kibou/Hikari currently employs both people with disabilities and their allies. Sony's founder, Masaru Ibuka, once said that he would like to see workplaces where employees with disabilities are not afforded special privileges, yet can thrive and make products that exceed those made by able-bodied individuals. We have inherited this philosophy and go about our daily work with the aim of delivering professional results. When the company was established in 2003, it started off undertaking cleaning operations at our Head Office, which was located in Gotenyama at the time. In subsequent years, the company expanded its operations and work locations to include the collection and delivery of in-house mail as well as cleaning operations at the Atsugi and Osaki sites. After the Head Office moved to Shinagawa Konan in 2014, Sony Kibou/Hikari Corporation diversified still further to cover a range of other work, including the production of name cards, bookbinding of texts, clerical support for digitizing documentation, and communication services at operational counters.

Operations handled by Sony Kibou/Hikari Corporation:Sort accounting slips, Work at the General Affairs counter, Sort in-house mail, Clean the building's perimeter, Clean washstands, Wipe building signs Support more extensive clerical work:Name card production, Text bookbinding, Digitize documents

Naturally, we have to use our ingenuity as we expand our operations. We cannot expect some employees to deliver 100% efficiency right from the start because of the nature of their disabilities. This means it is necessary to adapt work and procedures and restructure them so that these employees can carry them out from beginning to end. They begin by learning 70% of the job, then go on to 80% or 90%, eventually reaching the stage where they can work independently. It is vital to identify the qualities of each individual employee. Some of them are good at remembering things from images, others from what they hear, and still others from what is written down. Using the teaching method that suits each individual best helps them grow little by little. Today, basically each employee is working independently and raising his or her productivity. I believe that just because this is a company where the disabled work does not mean that they can only do certain fixed tasks or things that they are able to handle. From a company perspective, it is only natural to want employees to accomplish their work in a professional manner, and widen their range of expertise. More than anything, I want to see the employees who work here expand the work they do, grow as individuals, and take up the challenges posed by new work.

Creating a workplace that values Sony's open corporate culture


  • Kazuto Komura, Head Office supporter

Muto: In my view, the fact that we have managed to expand our operations so much is because our employees have lived up to the expectations we place on them when we entrust them with work. However, I also think that Sony's free and open corporate culture has been a major advantage. The ability to discuss work requests within the Sony Group so easily also makes it more likely that new work opportunities will open up. Moreover, delivering good results on a work request from one department allows us to expand our operations to other group companies because word gets around and often leads to similar requests from other departments. Sony Kibou/Hikari Corporation also shares these fine qualities of Sony's corporate culture. Creating relationships that encourage supporters and disabled employees to discuss matters frankly is part and parcel of everyday work life. My own approach is to make judgments based not on who said something, but on the content of what they actually say. We set a high value on a company atmosphere that encourages everyone to listen and respond positively to worthwhile opinions.


Komura: I usually provide support for employees in charge of cleaning, and we have reached the stage in the workplace where employees tell us if they feel they can do something in a better way. The other day, one of our employees announced the results for creating and putting into use a measuring device for lining up the chairs neatly in the meeting room in the executives' area. At that time, Hatori-san, who works here, said, "I have a question! How much time have you saved as a result?" This unexpectedly brought my attention to something I had not noticed before.
The ability to exchange views like this is also the result of gaining confidence in one's work. When our workplace moved to Konan, there were initially quite a few occasions when everyone was so nervous that they could not move. After repeated training sessions, however, everyone now goes about their work without hesitation. Since our operations evolve from day to day, we are constantly working together to think up solutions to new challenges. I am determined to support our employees as they advance one step at a time in such an environment, gradually growing in confidence, gaining more awareness of the situation themselves, and eventually becoming more independent.

We asked two employees about how they go about their duties at Sony Kibou/Hikari Corporation and the satisfaction they get from their work.

Fulfilling their dreams through working at Sony. Aspiring to become cleaning professionals


  • Mikiya Hatori, in charge of cleaning operations at Head Office
What do your daily duties consist of?
"After the morning assembly finishes at A.M.07:00, I clean the executive lounge, conference room, and stairs. It is very important that we keep to the schedule and finish cleaning before the executives arrive at A.M.08:00. In the afternoon, we check the paper supplies for the digital multifunction machines on each floor, and replenish them when necessary. Initially, I was very nervous entering the offices, but I have now gotten used to it and can check the paper supplies quite naturally."
Please tell us what you find fulfilling about your work, and your aspirations for the future.
"When I was a kid, I loved games and wanted to work in a game manufacturing company sometime in the future. I was especially fond of the PlayStation, and Sony was my ideal company. I dreamed of creating games but when I actually experienced work during workplace training, I realized that I was best suited to cleaning operations. Yet I have surprised myself because I have joined Sony and am involved with cleaning work there. I never thought this would actually happen, and I got goose bumps when I first came to Sony. I am still not fully developed as an employee, but at some stage I want to become a professional cleaner like Komura-san."

[Daily schedule]7:00 Morning assembly,7:15 Clean the executive lounge/teleconferencing room/mid-stairs,8:30 Clean offices,9:00 Clean staff canteen,10:30 Tidy up,11:15 Lunch,00:15 Afternoon assembly,00:20 Clerical work/repair internal mail envelopes,3:00 Change out of uniform,3:15 End of day assembly,3:30 Leave work

Joined Sony 10 years ago. I have managed to get this far thanks to the support of my colleagues


  • Maho Shibata, in charge of Atsugi Site operations
What do your daily duties consist of?
"Sorting, collecting and delivering in-house mail, and business support operations. After I sort the in-house mail, I use a mail cart to collect and deliver it around the Atsugi building. When I visit different departments, I am always happy when my colleagues call out "Thank you!" In between in-house mail sorting, collection and deliveries, I collect or refill reusable stationery items. The work I do is set, but I have a sense of accomplishment when I finish work on my own initiative smoothly without being told to do this or that."
You have now worked for the company for 10 years, but what has sustained you during that time?
"I think it is because of the support I have received, starting with my parents but continued by past and present supporters, and by the Support Center and my colleagues. I am not normally aware of it, but I feel it is because people provide silent support. Now that it has been ten years since I joined the company, there are times when I teach employees who joined after me. From now on, I intend to put myself more in the shoes of other people as I think and talk about things."

[Daily schedule]8:30 Morning assembly, 8:35 Prepare to replenish stationery items, 9:50 Collect/deliver and sort in-house mail within the building, 11:30 Lunch, 00:15 Draw up operating plans for replacing staff canteen POP displays, 1:20 Collect/deliver and sort in-house mail within the building, 2:30 Replenish stationery items, 3:00 Rest, 4:15 Replenish stationery items, 4:30 Tidy up, 4:45 End of day assembly, 5:00 Leave work

Working quite naturally as colleagues who support Sony


  • The company holds a recreation event once a year to strengthen fellowship among employees

Muto: The key thing about going to the company to work is that we are not alone. What is important is that we have colleagues, we work as part of a team, and we can consult and cooperate with our fellow workers on a mutual basis. Empathizing with each other is also important. We prepare an environment in which it is easy to work, so we want everyone to do their best at tasks that are rewarding. We expect everyone to complete their assigned duties properly and responsibly. Ideally, an environment where disabled people work should be one where those around them accept them naturally, and consider working with them a routine matter. From this perspective, as we go about our work we move freely around the Head Office building, which houses many group companies. We are thus well aware that the employees of other group companies are colleagues who work in the same building, and are therefore members of the same team. This is the same whether we are in Atsugi or Osaki. There is nothing in the least strange about this, and I believe the fact that it has materialized without anyone raising their voice is one of the great things about diversity at Sony, and the reason why it has evolved into an inclusive environment.

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