Sojitz Corporation

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Human Resource Strategy

Basic Approach: Creating a Diverse Team of Autonomous Individuals

Sojitz strives to continue addressing market needs and providing solutions to social issues amidst a rapidly changing business environment. We have therefore selected “diversity as a competitive advantage” as a key theme for Medium-term Management Plan 2023. At Sojitz, we are engaged in a variety of human resource initiatives that aim to create teams of diverse, autonomous individuals in order to turn diversity into a competitive advantage for the company.

In addition to the promotion of women in the workplace and other ongoing initiatives to advance diversity, we are strengthening our efforts to create a work environment that facilitates employees’ diverse work styles through the implementation of telework and through work style reforms such as curtailing long working hours and encouraging the use of annual paid leave.

We are also expanding Sojitz’s frameworks for promoting company-wide engagement in new challenges. These efforts include the Hassojitz Project (a project launched in 2019 for developing new business ideas and business models), which aims to cultivate Sojitz employees’ ability to run businesses, create and actualize new businesses, and involve others and see projects through to completion. Sojitz is increasing opportunities for all employees to experience professional growth and development through initiatives including overseas assignments for junior employees and our long-term trainee system.

By supporting each employee’s career path, we can leverage the growth of each individual as a driving force for both organizational and company-wide growth, which will lead to new business creation.

Medium-term Management Plan 2023: Human Resource Strategy

The Three Pillars of Our Human Resource Strategy

人材戦略の3つの柱


We are implementing policies in line with the following concepts selected as key themes for Medium-term Management Plan 2023.

1. A Framework for Leveraging Diversity

Sojitz aims to transform diversity into a competitive advantage by maximizing the unique strengths of all employees and emboldening individuals to take on new challenges.

  • ・Promoting Women in the Workplace
  • Sojitz aims to increase the percentage of female employees to approximately 50% during the 2030s, and we will continue to cultivate an environment in which women can naturally excel. We are also increasing opportunities for women in management, with 54 women in managerial positions as of March 2021. Sojitz also appointed its first female executive officer through internal promotion in April 2021.

  • ・Opportunities for International Employees
  • There are 80 international employees working at Sojitz’s Tokyo headquarters as of the end of March 2021. Additionally, each year Sojitz provides around 30 staff members from nearly 100 overseas subsidiaries and operating companies with the opportunity to gather at Sojitz headquarters for a training program.

  • ・Opportunities for Employees with Disabilities
  • As of the end of March 2021, Sojitz employs 44 individuals with disabilities (21 at Tokyo headquarters and 23 at Sojitz Group companies). These employees are making contributions to ongoing health management initiatives as well as to the workspace reorganization project underway at our Tokyo headquarters.

  • ・Opportunities for Locally hired Employees (at Overseas Offices)
  • We are placing our overseas operating companies at the center of our efforts to tap into local networks, expand Sojitz’s business areas, and create new business. We are therefore increasing the number of locally hired employees holding chief officer positions at these overseas bases.

    2. A Framework for Taking on New Challenges

    In order to ensure each individual develops greater autonomy in their work, Sojitz is expanding its human resource initiatives to create opportunities for employees to proactively take on new challenges. Initiatives such as the Hassojitz Project call for employees of all ages and backgrounds to contribute innovative ideas, and Sojitz is not only offering these growth opportunities but building a framework for fairly evaluating employee initiative.

    Sojitz has also established policies and organizations for supporting employees who seek to take on new challenges outside the company, including systems to support entrepreneurs and independent businesses, in addition to organizations such as Sojitz Professional Share and the Sojitz Alumni organization. Sojitz supports the desired career paths of employees, including those who pursue entrepreneurial opportunities outside the company.

    3. A Framework for Experiencing Growth

    Sojitz has established a company culture which supports diverse employees regardless of their age, gender, or nationality, to ensure all employees can freely take on new challenges. Employees work in an open and accepting space where they have the freedom to make mistakes and can proactively take on new challenges. This environment fosters individuality and allows employees to experience personal growth, creating a positive feedback loop in which employees have a higher level of engagement and are motivated to help further raise Sojitz’s corporate value.

    We will continue to implement initiatives including training programs and the job rotation system in order to ensure that all employees can experience growth at every stage of their career. Employees progress through several stages throughout their career at Sojitz, which include: the training stage for developing the basic skills required for general trading company employees; the practical implementation stage to use their training to actively involve others in projects and tackle new challenges; and the management stage, when employees act as leaders for their teams and organizations. We believe it is important to provide employees with the rewards of tangible growth and sense of contribution, and we will continue to build an environment in which employees work together with the company to achieve mutual success.

Establishing Human Resource KPIs

Basic Approach to Human Resource KPIs

We have established human resource key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to align our human resource strategy with our overall management strategy for pursuing value creation. We will develop talent while simultaneously assessing the success of our human resource policies with metrics to measure employee understanding and level of implementation throughout the company. Sojitz has put in place a system for monitoring this process using dynamic KPIs, which are flexible and can be revised in response to changes in the external environment or based on progress of policy implementation.

KPI

1. KPIs for Leveraging Diversity

  • ・Percent of female career-track employees with secondment experience in Japan or overseas・・・40%(as of 2023)(*20% as of fiscal year ended March 2021)
  • Sojitz aims to provide female employees with a wide range of professional opportunities based on each employee’s career aspirations and major life events. We believe that increasing opportunities for female employees will support the development of female candidates for managerial positions and increase the number of female role models forging their own career paths at Sojitz.

  • ・Percent of locally hired employees in chief officer positions・・・50% (as of 2025) (*40% in fiscal year ended March 2021)
  • We are placing our overseas operating companies at the center of our efforts to tap into local networks, expand Sojitz’s business areas, and create new business. We are therefore increasing the number of locally hired employees holding chief officer positions at these overseas bases.

  • ・Percent of employees taking childcare leave・・・100%(as of 2023)(*Female employees: 100%, Male employees: 56%. Percentages for  fiscal year ended March 2021.)
  • In order to further support the promotion of women in society, Sojitz is creating an environment in which male employees can take an active role in childcare, so both men and women can successfully balance work and childcare responsibilities.

  • ・Percent of employees undergoing follow-up health checks when recommended・・・70%(as of 2023)(*20% in fiscal year ended March 2021)
  • Sojitz maintained its record of having 100% of employees participate in the annual health check. By following up with employees after this initial checkup, we aim to ensure that employees attend any recommended follow-up appointments (for tests required following the initial health check) in order to prevent illness though early detection and improve employee health.

    2. KPIs for Promoting New Challenges

  • ・Percent of employees completing core online trainings・・・100% of career-track employees(as of 2023)(*Online training content available as of December 2021)
  • Digital technologies are a critical foundation for Sojitz’s efforts to connect customer and social needs to value creation, and we believe that digital literacy is an essential skill for all of our employees.

    3. KPIs for Experiencing Growth

  • ・Challenge-taking Index:Percent of employees identified by their supervisor as demonstrating above-average progress on annual objectives・・・70%(as of 2023)(*51% in fiscal year ended March 2021
  • In order to ensure sustainable growth for Sojitz, it is essential that we foster a company culture in which employees are continuously taking on challenges in new fields and business areas. This index is included as one of the annual commitments for all employees in their objective setting, and we are aiming to increase the number of opportunities employees can take on that will be considered above average progress by their supervisors in this area. We will continue our efforts to connect each employee’s progress towards their objectives to the overall growth of the company.

Recruitment

Seeking people who can deliver future prosperity to all our stakeholders

At Sojitz, our people serve as the source of our value creation. In order for Sojitz to achieve sustainable growth and continue to create new value, we must place respect for our employees’ diverse range of backgrounds at the foundation of our efforts. We need diverse people who are capable of responding swiftly to the changing business environment, and people who find the will to overcome difficulties to see through their work through to completion without fear of failure.

In FY2021, we announced a new recruitment slogan: Make a Difference. Behind this slogan is our belief that there are many opportunities to take on new challenges at Sojitz, and the slogan also embodies our desire for employees to seize opportunities to experience personal growth through their work while creating prosperity through business.

Throughout the year, Sojitz’s recruitment efforts focus on new graduates, mid-career candidates that include individuals with disabilities, and global recruitment from overseas universities to strategically hire talent with rich creativity, potential, and varied experiences—as well as the ability to develop their own capabilities.

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FY2021 Hiring Plan

  • ・New graduates: Approximately 90 employees(20 in administrative positions)
  • ・Mid-career hires: Approximately 40 employees

Human Resource Development

Approach to Human Resource Development

Sojitz aims to develop people who can create “two types of value”— value for Sojitz and value for society—and is supporting their ability to excel.

We believe that Sojitz Group’s growth depends on the development of its employees. Based on this belief, we carefully consider the skills, mindset, and experiences that are critical for our employees, in order to offer on-the-job-training, job rotations, human resource development systems, and a variety of training programs which serve as concrete methods for acquiring these important capabilities. Specifically, we focus on developing employees with the following attributes:

  • ・People who see change as an opportunity for realizing value creation
  • ・People capable of responding swiftly to a rapidly changing business environment
  • ・People who take on challenges without fear of failure and persevere to overcome difficulties and see through their work through to completion

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Human Resource Development Programs

Sojitz offers various kinds of training to support the professional growth of employees. The core training programs are mandatory courses and professional training. For the mandatory courses, we use lectures and exams (business trading, legal/compliance, accounting, TOEIC IP tests (LR/SW)) conducted in-house, as well as an exam conducted by an outside institution (bookkeeping) so that employees can acquire basic knowledge and elevate their own skills as trading company employees. Our professional training menu focuses on developing their skills and mindset. In skills training, employees acquire the necessary knowledge and polish the skills they will need as professionals working in various fields. In mindset training, we aim to strengthen people skills and goal achievement through overnight training while focusing on items such as understanding of the company, understanding of roles, commitment, and the ability to accomplish assignments.

In FY2020, we began recommending that all career-track employees complete the IT Passport exam. The IT Passport is a national certificate in Japan that enables employees to gain a comprehensive understanding of a broad range of digital technologies. The company has also chosen to cover the cost of the exam for administrative-track employees who support the daily operations of the company in order to deepen understanding of digital technologies throughout the company. Through these efforts, Sojitz seeks to develop employees who can leverage digital tools not only in their everyday tasks, but also in new business creation. In FY2021, we began requiring all career-track employees to pass the IT Passport exam in order to raise employees’ digital skills throughout the company.

Human Resource Systems

Sojitz’s human resource system was formulated around the concept of treating each employee according to the role they are given, regardless of characteristics such as age or nationality. The system seeks to clearly define assigned roles as well as convey clear information concerning advancement and promotion, and in doing so, serve as a source of motivation for employees. Furthermore, the system undergoes periodic reviews and revisions that take into consideration things such as external factors and changes in age composition. From FY2020, we increased our basic salary for new employees and revised our human resource policies to enable employees to be promoted even earlier than before.

Goal Setting and Evaluations

We have implemented a job grade system to systemize the expected roles of each employee and corresponding salaries, also enabling employees to be promoted early in their career based on employee evaluation results. Our results-oriented evaluation system evaluates the extent to which employees fulfill their commitments, as well as the necessary to create medium-to long-term, sustainable results.

The evaluations use an appraisal system through which employees initially lay out their objectives to evaluators and are informed of the competency appraisal items corresponding to their job grade. The employee and evaluator engage in open dialogue during the initial goal setting stage (individual goal setting, following a meeting where the goals and strategy of the employee’s organization are shared), mid-term review (checking employee’s progress and revising goals as needed), year-end review (confirming degree to which goals were ultimately achieved), and when feedback is provided on evaluation results. This establishes mutual understanding between the employee and evaluator, as well as connects the results of an employee’s evaluation with his or her growth over the following year. Evaluations are conducted by superiors at multiple levels, and the Human Resources Dept. oversees these discussions.

If an employee has doubts about the results of their evaluation, the system has HR mediate from an objective standpoint, determine the final evaluation result, and provide the reasons for and feedback on these results to employees.

Furthermore, when setting annual targets, the management personnel who serve as evaluators, such as managers, general managers, and COOs, are required to add employee development as a target, at a ratio of 20% to 30%. This will help to continually improve the quality of human resources management. In addition, every employee can specify their “challenge” at the yearly challenge setting stage, accelerating Sojitz’s “New way, New value”.

Concrete Measures

Expanding Opportunities for Administrative-track Employees

In an effort to provide our outstanding administrative-track employees with opportunities for increased engagement and more rewarding career paths, we introduced a new upper tier of job grades for administrative staff in July 2019, as well as a new region-specific career track. We also revised our human resource system to allow administrative staff within these higher job grades to transfer to the region-specific career track. We are promoting the further success of our outstanding administrative-track employees through these revisions, as well as by providing various educational opportunities including career counseling and other initiatives for encouraging employees to pursue a wide range of career paths. As of June 2020, a number of upper-level administrative track employees have already transferred to the career track and are beginning to expand their opportunities to excel at Sojitz.

In August 2019, we also modified our training system in order to create more opportunities for administrative-track employees to excel and to support them in acquiring new professional skills. Administrative-track employees are able to select and complete training based on their individual needs and those of their organization, with participation steadily increasing since the initiative began.

Job Rotation and Internal Recruitment Systems

Sojitz implements systems to promote the professional growth of employees and broaden their career paths. These include the job rotation system, which enables employees to acquire a diverse range of expertise and skills and bring new energy to their organizations by gaining experience in different positions within the company. In addition, the internal elective system allows employees to achieve self-actualize and carve out their own career path by voluntarily applying for development opportunities.

Under the job rotation system, employees must have experience in two or more roles (including secondment and overseas assignment) in order to be considered for a managerial position. This system contributes to the development of leaders who have diverse expertise and skills. In FY2020, we also reduced the number of years required to receive certain promotions as part of our efforts to accelerate the speed at which our employees gain important work experience.

Under the internal elective system, an average of seven employees are transferred each year. This system brings fresh perspectives to organizations and helps the company deploy the right people to the right places.

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