Basic Policy

The Sumitomo Forestry Group advocates the promotion of a free and open-minded corporate culture that respects diversity as one of the principles in Our Values. According to internationally accepted human rights norms, we shall of course respect equal opportunity and diversity as well as respect the human rights of all individuals, including women, children, indigenous people, minorities and vulnerable people in the employment and treatment of employees as stated in the Sumitomo Forestry Group Code of Conduct.

We have also defined “a vibrant work environment where a diverse workforce can unharness their skills and individuality” as one material issue for sustainability. As part of the specific strategies and goals set in the Mid-Term Sustainability Targets, we aim to create a work environment that generates diverse ideas, job satisfaction and vibrancy as well as secure human resources by training younger workers and utilizing older ones, which we incorporate into our management practices through inclusion in annual activity policy and measures for each department.

In recruitment activities, the Company emphasizes the ambition and volition of the applicant, and does not differentiate the selection processes according to academic background or gender. At Group companies outside Japan, the employment of local staff is actively promoted, and talented personnel are employed and promoted to management positions, irrespective of race or gender.

As for the disciplinary punishment and dismissal of employees, if there has been a compliance violation, the employee will be dealt with appropriately in accordance with Employment Regulations. We have also put in place a system to prevent unfair dismissals.

Recently, talent acquisition has been recognized as one of the major management issues for management in Japan triggered mainly by low birth rate and thereby aging population. Sumitomo Forestry communicates this type of approach with potential employees during recruitment and expands supportive programs to foster diverse work styles and performance of female employees in effort of acquiring valuable, next-generation talent.

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Promotion System

The Workstyle Diversification Department, which was established as an independent organization in the Personnel Department in April 2013, with the cooperation of each department, supports the utilization of a wide range of employees from female staff to re-employed retirees and employees with disabilities as well as promotes diversity.

In fiscal 2018, the Sustainability Committee made up of executive officers also appointed as directors and divisional managers with the representative director president and executive officer acting as the Committee chairperson was launched to manage the progress of mid-term sustainability targets and engage in other sustainability activities.

An individual independent outside director is in charge of promoting diversity and the active involvement of female employees and leads dialogue with female employees at internal discussion sessions, meetings attended by Board of Directors members, and other initiatives to promote active involvement of female employees as well as diversity at Sumitomo Forestry.

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Promoting the Active Involvement of Female Employees

Percentage of Female employees in management positions
FY2021 target
(Non-consolidated)
At least 5.5%

Percentage of Female employees in management positions
As of December 31, 2020
(Non-consolidated)
4.8%

The Sumitomo Forestry Group is committed to a workplace environment where motivated employees can be actively involved irrespective of gender, age, nationality, race, religion or disability. In an endeavor to actively engage female employees in particular, the Group has sought to improve its systems relating to childcare, education and training, and at the same time, has taken a proactive stance on promoting the use of these systems.

During fiscal 2013, the Group surveyed the attitude and needs of employees with respect to: work and careers; promoting the active involvement of female employees; and childbirth and parenting. A survey was conducted to gauge the awareness of all female employees at Sumitomo Forestry to assist the Group in promoting the active involvement of female employees and in supporting the workstyles of employees currently raising children. In December 2013, the Group released the “Sumitomo Forestry Group Declaration on Empowering Women.” It was issued to the entire Group under the name of the President, and formally summarizes the significance of promoting the active involvement of female employees into three policies. The Group is actively engaged in activities under the policy described in the Declaration.

In December 2014, numerical targets for the appointment of women to managerial posts have been set in order to foster further empowerment of female employees at Sumitomo Forestry. We have publicly announced our goal of raising the ratio of female managers to at least 5% by 2020, and have worked to achieve this goal. In fiscal 2016, in accordance with The Act on Promotion of Women's Participation and Advancement in the Workplace of the Japanese Government, the Company's first phase action plan (April 1, 2016 -March 31, 2019) was implemented. In fiscal 2019, the second phase action plan (April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022) was formulated, advocates and is advancing efforts toward the goal of raising the ratio of female managers to at least 5.5% as a new numerical target to achieve by fiscal 2021 (4.8% as of December 31, 2020).

Sumitomo Forestry has been conducting a mentoring system for the purpose of encouraging growth for the active participation of female employees as management since fiscal 2016. The mentoring system is a program where assigned mentors periodically interview mentees to support the growth of the mentee. Thus far, a total of 27 female manager and manager candidate mentees where mentored by managers in positions of general manager level with the aim to further success and self-reformation. In fiscal 2020, we dispatched two employees to take part in external mentor programs.

Employment and Promotion of Women (Non-Consolidated)

FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Female employees including contract employees*1 (%) 20.4 21.0 21.6 22.0
Female employees in management positions*1 (%) 3.2 3.7 4.2 4.8
Female new graduates*2 (%) 18.0 24.8 26.9 30.2
Female employees in management positions in revenue-generating functions*1*3 (%) - - - 3.2
Female employees in STEM-related positions*1*4 (%) - - - 21.1

*1 The rate of female employees and the rate of female employees in management roles is based on the number of employees as of March 31 each year from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2019. In fiscal 2020, this calculation uses the number of employees as of December 31 due to the change in the accounting period.
The number of employees includes people dispatched to affiliate companies but excludes executive officers, employees hosted from other companies and exchange employees.

*2 The rate of new female graduates is calculated based on the number of employees joining the Company as of April 1 each year.

*3 The rate is excluding support functions such as HR, IT, Legal, etc.

*4 STEM:Science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Employment and Promotion of Women (Subsidiary Companies in Japan)

FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Female employees including contract employees*1 (%) 31.6 32.0 32.7 32.4
Female employees in management positions*1 (%) 4.6 6.0 6.1 7.1
Female new graduates*2 (%) 40.2 43.5 45.7 43.4

*1 The rate of female employees and the rate of female employees in management roles is based on the number of employees as of March 31 each year. In fiscal 2020, the calculation for the number of employees is as of December 31.

*2 The rate of new female graduates is calculated based on the number of employees joining the Company as of April 1 each year.

Development and Sales from a Woman's Perspective

Having started in March 2013, Women's Perspective Project which gathered diverse female employees from the headquarters, branch offices across Japan and Group companies in intention to bring homes designed from their residents' perspectives. Previously, the project provided the “Comama” spatial design proposal and also nine houses built and sold in just half a year at East Hills Seya in the Ikoma district in Nara Prefecture.

In addition, the brush-up customer service training from a woman's perspective is intermittently held for female home advisors working at model homes. This training provides insight into household concerns and inconveniences as well as discusses the dream home from a woman’s perspective. The curriculum also teaches specific ways to build trust as a key stage of the sales process by especially empathizing with wives and other female customers. This training program is held once every two to three years according to the enrollment of employees yet to take the course. Up until now, 462 female employees took this training program.

Main Initiatives Aimed at Increasing the Motivation of Female Employees

Sumitomo Forestry provides various training for female employees.

In fiscal 2019, training for women salespersons was conducted for the purpose of finding their source of motivation to encourage female staff to continue to work in sales. Two female staff members—one fourth-year employee and a twelfth-year supervisor working on the sales team—presented the secret to finding the significance of working as sales team member without focusing on gender. Because many female sales staff resign due to life events, building a working environment that allows diverse work-style innovation is vital. At the same time, raising individual awareness is also important. Therefore, we are working to ensure self-management that not only improves sales skills but also heightens motivation.

The Sumitomo Forestry Group on-site training for female engineers provided an informational exchange with other companies in the same industry as well as construction site tours for female on-site managers with the goal of teaching successful examples of construction engineers who are women outside Sumitomo Forestry as well as improving skills and motivation.

In January 2020, we held an event called the Women's Conference 2020, aimed primarily at young women employees in their 20s and 30s. Talks from female executives and female managers as role models as well as discussions between participants help female employees think about their long-term career and aim to support them in discovering how to carve their path forward.

Sumitomo Forestry also held management training seminars for female staff to reform thinking in not only female employees but also management. This educational opportunity allowed all of our employees regardless of gender to dispel both conscious and unconscious biases about gender roles and brought greater understanding about diversity promotion.

From November 2020 to February 2021, we deployed two of the participants from the Women’s Conference 2020 to an external mentoring program for the purpose of raising even greater awareness about further career advancement in the future.

Participants of Women’s Conference 2020 displaying their individual goals

Participants of Women’s Conference 2020 displaying their individual goals

Main Initiatives Aimed at Increasing the Motivation of Female Employees

Eligible Persons Description Date Number of Participants
Sales Staff Regular Female Sales Staff Training April to December 2020 94
Networking Event for Female Housing Sales Staff: Joint Program by Housing Builders Program pending in fiscal 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Production Staff Regular On-site Training for Female Engineers April to December 2020 337
Managers and Manager Candidates Mentoring Program Program pending in fiscal 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19
Administrative planning staff Career Advancement Training April to December 2020 115
Administrative planning staff
Engineers
External Mentoring Program November 2020 to February 2021 2

Various Career Development Programs

Sumitomo Forestry has put in place Free Agent (FA) programs, opportunity bulletins, and a job transfer system so that employees can think about and advance their own careers. By providing a means for employees who satisfy a certain set of conditions to transition into a desired role, we provide a chance for them to fully leverage their skills, improve motivation and vitalize the organization.

In addition, Sumitomo Forestry supports employees' career formation by conducting career development training, such as Career 30 training (voluntary) for employees in their 30s and Career 40 training (all employees) for employees in their 40s tailored to each major millstone throughout life.

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Promoting the Employment of Persons with Disabilities

Being awarded a certificate after the company’s first Universal Manner Test by then-President Ichikawa

Being awarded a certificate after the company’s first Universal Manner Test by then-President Ichikawa

Ratio of Disabled Employees
As of December 31, 2020
(Non-consolidated*2)
2.25%

Sumitomo Forestry promotes the employment of people with disabilities, giving the highest priority to matching the individuality of each person with a disability with the workplace and business activities. The ratio of disabled employees as of end of December, 2020 was 2.25%. Furthermore, to improve the retention rates for current employees, the Company provides regular face-to-face meetings as well as phone interviews and career advice as required.

Furthermore, we have been promoting employees to take the Universal Manners Test*1 since fiscal 2018. Sumitomo Forestry has been executing a plan for all employees to acquire the level three certification by 2022, aiming to encourage and entrench further employment of people with disabilities in addition to improving service for customers and partners who have disabilities. As of fiscal 2020, roughly 2,200 employees have acquired the certification.

*1 Test to build the mind and actions necessary to provide better services to a diverse range of people from the elderly and people with disabilities to parents with strollers and foreign nationals.

*2 The calculation is the sum of Sumitomo Forestry, subsidiary Sumirin Wood Peace Co., Ltd. as well as the affiliated Group company Sumirin Business Services Co., Ltd.

Employment of Persons with Disabilities (Non-Consolidated)*1

FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Ratio of Disabled Employees (%) 2.12 2.26*2 2.32*3 2.40*3 2.25*3

*1 The figures for fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2019 are based on data as of March 31 each year while the figures for fiscal 2020 are based on data as of December 31 due to the change in the accounting period.

*2 The calculation includes the subsidiary Sumirin Wood Peace for fiscal 2017.

*3 The calculation includes the subsidiary Sumirin Wood Peace as well as the affiliated Group company Sumirin Business Services form fiscal 2018.

Promoting Proactive Employment of Persons with Disabilities -Sumirin Wood Peace Founded

For the purpose of providing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, the Company in July 2015 founded a subsidiary in Niihama-shi, Ehime Prefecture in Japan with business lines such as shiitake mushroom farming, wooden products manufacturing, processing, and printing. In March 2017, a new office building was completed and in April the Sumirin Wood Peace obtained the certification of a special subsidiary company in accordance with the Act for Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities. The Company has been promoting recruitment of people with disabilities as business has grown since its start with five people at the time of its founding. As of December 2020, Sumirin Wood Peace employs 11 people with disabilities. In the future, the Company will further this recruitment and ensure business continuity.

Exterior of new Sumirin Wood Peace Office Building

Exterior of new Sumirin Wood Peace Office Building

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Adopting Systems to Re-employ Retirees and Provide Selective Retirement

Adopting a Selective Retirement System

Sumitomo Forestry adopted a Selective Retirement System in April 2020 to extend retirement until the end of the fiscal year the employee reaches the age of 65 (March 31 of the personnel fiscal year). We have also introduced a system to move up retirement to the day before the employee’s 60th birthday when requested.

An employee can continue to work through the valid term of their contract (re-employment) when selecting retirement before the age of 65 and requesting a flexible work style, such as reducing the number of work days.

The re-employment rate before adopting the selective retirement system was an average of around 80%, even with some fluctuations each fiscal year. During the first year after adopting the selective retirement system in fiscal 2020, 91.9% of employees who turned 60 years old chose to postpone their retirement. The adoption of the selective retirement system has supported the stable re-employment of people who are 60 and older.

Re-employment of Retirees

Sumitomo Forestry adopted a system for the re-employment of retirees in fiscal 2006 whereby it re-employs personnel, who retired at 60, until the end of the fiscal year that they reach the age of 65, on the condition that they have had at least 10 years of continuous service, they have specific qualifications and experience, and they wish to be re-employed. Before April 2020 when the retirement age was set uniformly at 60 years of age, about 80% of our employees who turned 60 requested re-employment each year, and 100% of those employees who requested re-employment were re-employed in the first fiscal year.

Senior Human Resources Bank Center

The Senior Human Resource Asset Bank Center established in April 2018 extends re-employment contracts even after the end of the fiscal year when employees turn 65—which is the upper age limit for re-employment of retirees—who are necessary to the company and would like to keep working until they are 70. As of April 2020 when the selective retirement system was adopted, Sumitomo Forestry has abolished the upper age limit to allow re-employment contracts even after the age of 70.

Thus far, 47 employees have registered as senior human resource assets, of whom 38 are still working as of January 1, 2021.

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Return to Work Application System

Sumitomo Forestry has operated the Return to Work Application System since fiscal 2008. The aims of the system are to meet the re-employment needs of workers to secure talented personnel who resign due to unavoidable circumstances such as childcare and eldercare. Employees register their wish to return to work at the time they resign, and applicants must have had worked for at least three consecutive years before the resignation. As at the end of December 2020, the Company received 266 applications.

When the Company receives an application, it goes through a selection process based on the Company's needs and the skills of the applicant. Applicants who are successfully re-employed within three years of the resignation are able to regain the same levels of position as before.

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Direct Employment of Non-permanent Employees

In recent years, regulations for dispatched employees have been strengthened to correct disparities arising out of different forms of employment. In response, Sumitomo Forestry reviewed its personnel systems to appoint competent employees, and in April 2011, changed the status of its dispatched employees to directly employed fixed-term employees, referred to as “partner employees.” Sumitomo Forestry also operates a system for promoting partner employees to permanent status. It promoted 17 workers to permanent employee status in fiscal 2021.

Number of Partner Employees Promoted to a Permanent Employee

FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020 FY2021
19 12 14 12 17

* As of April 1 of each fiscal year

Furthermore, we have also implemented a system for partner employees with disabilities (challenged employees) to transition to permanent employment.

Number of Challenged Employees Promoted to a Permanent Employee

FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020 FY2021
1 0 2 1 0

* As of April 1 of each fiscal year

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Sustainability Report