Cross Talk

Cross Talk

TALK 03
Supporting women in workforce: Cross Talk

SoftBank’s appeal is that each employee can shine
regardless of gender.
We asked about the actual work environment,
including the internal support for child birth and child rearing.

people
  • YOSHIAKI ADACHI

    Consumer Business Unit Product & Marketing Unit
    Product Division Product Planning Division
    [ 1999 New Hire ]

  • KYOKO HOASHI

    Technology Unit Technology Strategy Unit
    Technology Administration Division ISC Division
    Security Management Department
    [ 2004 Experienced Hire ]

  • YO MATSUZAKI

    Consumer Business Unit Product & Marketing Unit
    Energy Business Promotion Division
    Energy Business Division Business Strategy Department,
    Deputy Chief Manager
    [ 2010 Experienced Hire ]

  • SAORI WATANABE

    Enterprise Business Unit
    1st Corporate Sales Division Sales Division 2
    Sales Department 2 Section 1
    [ 2008 New Hire ]

  • MOE MIZUNOUE

    Consumer Business Unit Consumer Sales Unit
    1st Sales Division
    Division 1 Department 3 Section 2
    [ 2015 New Hire ]

CROSSTALK TALK 03

What constitutes a work style that makes women achieve their potential?

What is the workstyle of women building solid careers at SoftBank, and what’s on their mind? Can they develop their careers while going through life events?
We took a close look at the reality of successful SoftBank women’s workstyle.

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Work in your own way:
Internal support systems and individual efforts

Today’s participants are Yoshiaki Adachi, who supports working women as a manager; Kyoko Hoashi, a General Manager who have experienced child birth and child rearing; Yo Matsuzaki and Saori Watanabe, who are balancing child rearing and work; and Moe Mizunoue, a fourth year employee.

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A culture that allows individuals to shine regardless of gender

Mizunoue
I work for the sales business unit which has relatively high ratio of men, but you’re never excluded from assignments because you’re a woman, and men are never prioritized for work assignments because of their gender.
Adachi
I believe SoftBank provides a friendly work environment regardless of gender.
As a Manager, I make sure that I treat my team members equally.
On the other hand, I don’t expect everyone to engage in work in the exact same manner.
I give clear instructions on the minimum requirements and give as much freedom as possible on the process, to ensure that working is made easier according to each individual’s style.
Mizunoue
Individual style of work. I have strong memory of my female perspective being appreciated. I work for the Consumer Sales business unit, and am engaged in making various plans and proposals to improve performance of agencies I am responsible for. A collaboration event with a fashion building planned from the perspective of women in 20s was a huge success. A proposal to coordinate the sales promotion at the entrance of the building and the world vision of apparel tenants was received well by the customers, and resulted in good performance. It was well appreciated in the department, and I felt that the female perspective was useful.
Watanabe
My workstyle changed since I gave birth. I’m a salesperson with large corporate accounts, and before childbirth, I used to be a solo player, receiving requests from the customers and working on them all on my own. What worried me most coming back to work after maternity leave was whether after hours or urgent customer requests could be dealt with sufficiently. When I discussed the matter with my supervisor before returning, I was advised to work on transactions with a newly established sales support team. With the support provided, I can now cooperate with other members to perform tasks that I used to work on by myself before giving birth.
I’ve made changes to my workstyle before and after the maternity leave, but the sense of satisfaction is the same, and I’m enjoying my job.
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What is the workstyle of a mother,
and which support systems did you actually use?

Hoashi
My daughter is currently in 6th grade. I worked until immediately before her birth, and returned to full-time work four months later. Work and child rearing were both important to me, and I believed I could do both (laugh). Back then, there were few working mothers, so I thought I could be a forerunner and I was hoping that I would be. Now, there are various support systems in place and many women are using them.
Matsuzaki
I switched jobs and joined SoftBank as an experienced hire when my second child was two years old and needed lots of attention. It was when the work from home system was just introduced for employees involved in child care and nursing care, so I took advantage of that.
Now my children are in elementary school, and I use the work from home system when I participate in school events. For example, if there is a parent’s day open class in the afternoon, I won’t be able to make it if I report to work in the morning and take the afternoon off from 1:00 p.m. So I’d use the work from home system, and work at home in the morning and take the afternoon off. By using the internal system effectively, working and child rearing can coexist.
Watanabe
Working from home and super flextime systems are so helpful. It’s being used by many employees, not just mothers.
Mizunoue
I don’t have children, but I use super flextime system frequently. For example, I can leave work at 3:00 p.m. and go for a trampoline exercise class with a friend. It enriches my private life. Mothers’ utilizing internal systems to balance family and work enables me to actively utilize the system to balance work and private life.
Hoashi
I think there is an environment that allows use of maternity and childcare leaves with sense of security. There is a position waiting for you to return to after the leave, and there is support. As a supervisor I get asked for advice from my team members, and I discuss the post-leave position and contents of work before they start the leave so that they will have a sense of security. Timing of return to work differs by the individual. Some want to take longer leave, and others wish to return to work quickly after giving birth. I have detailed communication to confirm their intent, to prepare an environment that ensures smooth return to work.
Watanabe
I wanted to focus on first-time motherhood, so I took a maternity leave until the child was more than one year old. Having taken about 18 months off, everything felt foreign when I returned to work. SoftBank is forever changing rapidly, in a good way (laugh). Immediately after returning to work, I was mainly assigned sales promotion activities for new and strategic products, so that I can play on my strength. I took it as a good opportunity and learned daily, and I think it helped in raising my awareness on creating time to catch up with being part of a workforce. Several months after returning to work, I was back in charge with my corporate customer accounts.
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What is the supporting environment for returning to work,
and how do mothers develop their careers?

Adachi
I think support by people and environment surrounding the individual is just as important as the system.
Matsuzaki
It’s a good atmosphere, everybody celebrates when someone at your office is to become a mother, and waits for the return. I’m grateful that my co-workers are sympathetic and voice their concern when I have to leave work early due to sudden illness of my child.
Watanabe
In addition to having a childcare support system, it’s important that there is a supporting environment and sympathetic employees. I believe our flexible corporate culture that accepts new opinions and attempts including those unrelated to childcare may be contributing to making SoftBank a friendly workplace for mothers.
Hoashi
There’s no reason why you should give up on career development because you’ve become a mother. It’s up to you.
Adachi
As a manager, I try to provide an environment where working while parenting will not adversely affect promotion and performance evaluation. There are several managers at my business unit using shorter work-hours, and there are employees promoted to managers’ positions after returning from maternity leave. There is a culture of support for employees who must leave office unexpectedly due to illness of a child, and if you have to be late due to family matters, you can switch to work from home. Various internal systems and tools available for an IT company are creating a friendly environment for employees with children.
Mizunoue
As an example of supportive culture, when an employee two years senior from me became heavily pregnant and could not visit customers anymore, she stayed at the office and helped with quantitative analysis and document preparation, leveraging on her experience. Her detailed analysis that could be difficult to do for the salesforce who is spending so much time out of the office resulted in improved sales activity by the whole team. I thought the environment that provides workstyle where each individual can make maximum contribution not only after childbirth but also during pregnancy and the support provided by the team was really wonderful.
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Trusting relationship is necessary to realize ability at work

Adachi
Whether it’s short-hours or full-time work, available time is limited. Management wishes employees to focus on work efficiency to produce results. To do that, each individual must prioritize. Employees who can prioritize and manage their time produces results even if they’re working shorter hours. If they fail to do this, I give an advice, regardless of their work format.
Watanabe
When you have a child, work time is limited and you prioritize more severely and concentrate harder. I think my work productivity has more than doubled compared to before motherhood. At the same time, time spent with children will be very intense. I leave my office or customer’s office at 5:30 p.m. for pick up from childcare and get home around 6:30 p.m. From there, I focus on spending quality time with my child until bedtime. Working mothers around me seem to be very conscious about work productivity.
Hoashi
I also wanted to focus on child rearing, so I changed the way I use my time when my daughter started elementary school. I leave home with my school-age daughter who leaves home before 7:00 a.m., and report to work at 8:00 a.m. Then I leave work a bit early to make sure I spend more time with my daughter in the evening. I can really focus during that one hour at work in the morning.
Matsuzaki
I’m careful not to blame people or work when something happens. For example, if my child becomes ill, I make the decision to go home or to stay at work by thinking “this is the most important thing for me now, so I will make this choice.”
Adachi
That should have a positive effect on communication with your team.
Matsuzaki
Yes. There are times when I have to ask for support. As it is my decision that causes the need for support, I am grateful for the support provided. I will tell my team they should contact me if there’s any trouble, and let them know that I’m not taking their support for granted. If I act like “it’s not my fault, my child is ill,” I’m just using the child as an excuse. I don’t want to do that, and I’d like to remind myself that I am an employee at the company, and focus on communication that builds trusting relationship.
Adachi
Trusting relationship with your team is particularly important when you are a working parent. There is a General Manager with two children working near me, and she works very efficiently by giving clear instructions with good understanding of the characteristics of each team member. I think the trusting relationship builds understanding which leads to efficient work. It’s less than six months since she was promoted to the General Manager’s position at the business unit after the maternity leave, but she is already doing new things and producing results.
Hoashi
As a General Manager, I make sure that I am available when I’m needed. When there was an incident in the past, I came into office on a Sunday evening and returned home at three in the morning, had two hours’ sleep and went straight to my daughter’s school event. I do what I must do, and delegate what can be delegated. I’m building a trusting relationship with my team members by showing this approach.
Mizunoue
Everyone’s making various efforts. SoftBank’s appeal is that your age and gender doesn’t matter, in a good way. I’d like to continue to work hard, in my own way.
  • Information as of November 2018.

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