When I started out in business, some people advised me to team up with someone with business experience. But I decided to work with a partner very different from myself? not to mention that he was still in university! I had business experience, but he had Internet expertise. From these two people with very different backgrounds sprang the beginnings of Rakuten.
The members who joined us after the company started were also people with experience and expertise in a broad range of industries from retailing, department stores, and wholesaling to manufacturing and other services. They were not just people with experience in the Internet industry. Thanks to those roots, we have been able to respond to a diverse variety of customers with a huge variety of services.
As we grow, we have also expanded our idea of what diversity means, seeking out not only people with different experiences but also a broad range of cultures and identities along with the perspectives and viewpoints they bring us. These perspectives help us to better understand our customers and appeal to a broader and more global market, capitalizing on opportunities that we might never have seen otherwise.
Diversity as a strategy
Diversity is one of our key corporate strategies. There are many reasons for this. We want to hire the best and brightest talent from around the world and diversity within the company is key to our ability to do that. Diversity brings us unique and different perspectives. And the Internet is a global network, connected across borders, so our organization must be diverse in order to best serve audiences around the world.
Diverse service offerings
Our business has always been a celebration of diversity. Our marketplace, Rakuten Ichiba, is a collection of diverse merchants and products, not an online version of a standardized vending machine. Our model encourages discovery and creates a fun and engaging shopping experience. The Rakuten ecosystem takes diversity even further by offering dozens of services ranging from e-commerce and banking to telecommunications and professional sports.
Diversity through Englishnization
When we decided to change our corporate language to English, some people were taken by surprise, but it was a natural step for us. Diversifying our language beyond Japanese enabled us to become a company with various nationalities and powered our global growth. Today, basically everyone at Rakuten can communicate in English. This is a terrific achievement.
Englishnization has exponentially grown our pool of potential hires from the relatively small number of people who can speak Japanese to the millions of English speakers around the world. In fact, the percentage of non-Japanese employees on our workforce has been growing organically. We now have over 60 nationalities represented at our global headquarters in Tokyo, Rakuten Crimson House, making up 19% of our total headcount. Moreover, 20% of our executive officers and above are non-Japanese, which is relatively high for a company headquartered in Japan.
Making English our official language was another reason we have been able to move quickly to build this diversity.
In addition to bringing in employees from all over the world, we are proud of our gender diversity. 40% of Rakuten employees are women, which reflects our customer base and brings an important perspective to our business. 20% of our management are women, and, if you do not include the engineer-heavy development side, that figure rises to 25%. This already exceeds the national average of 7.6 % (1), but we want to continue to increase that percentage.
We want to create an environment where women can thrive, regardless of their life stage. As an initiative to support working parents, we built a day care center for children, Rakuten Golden Kids, within our new office headquarters opened in 2015. Services offered at the daycare center include bilingual education.
Our culture places high value on teamwork, solidarity and mutual understanding. Because these qualities are so important to us, we support social activities and initiatives that help foster them, such as our network of clubs, which range from tennis and salsa dance to photography. We also support the health and wellbeing of our employees by offering free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a fitness center, massage and acupuncture, prayer and meditation facilities, and more. All of these initiatives are designed to support our employees and build a stronger Rakuten.
Leading with diversity
Rakuten aims to be a world-changing company. We want to be the driving force for the advancement of human beings and society. We are pioneers, and we want others to be inspired by what we do and to follow our lead. As a diverse company made up of diverse people and ideas, we will strive for the realization of these values and visions.