Chapter 2.
2015 2016
Evolution of Business Domains and Stable Management

Human Resource Development and Women's Advancement

Developing and Retaining Human Resources

To meet growing demand for construction, Obayashi Corporation strengthened each of its systems with the aim of fostering skilled workers.

The age of eligibility for the Obayashi Excellent Site Supervisor Certification Program, which was introduced in FY2012.3 in cooperation with the Obayashi Rin-yu-kai Federation, was raised in FY2016.3 from under 60 years of age to under 65 years of age. A year later in FY2017.3, a Junior Class for young supervisors hoping to become future Excellent Site Supervisors was newly added to the existing Regular and Meister classes. The main certification criteria for the Junior Class included being a young supervisor under 40 years of age and having adequate qualities and skills to become a future Excellent Site Supervisor, with further conditions set as possessing the qualifications set forth for each job type and having three or more years of experience working as a supervisor (including years of experience gained at companies other than Obayashi Corporation).

The same fiscal year also saw the creation of the new Obayashi Excellent Operator Certification Program. Crane operators recommended by suppliers and subcontractors who meet the criteria are certified as Excellent Operators, and receive an additional fixed allowance. The main criteria for certification are holding a crane or mobile crane operation license, having completed crane or mobile crane operator health and safety training, and having over 10 years of on-the-job experience (including years of experience gained at companies other than Obayashi Corporation).

The company strengthened its capabilities to support the training workers need for the future, ensuring that the operation of the Obayashi Rin-yu-kai Vocational Training School, which was opened in FY2015.3, stayed on track, and making steady progress in increasing training courses and gradually expanding capacity in terms of the number of trainees that the school could accept at one time. Moreover, to ensure a secure working environment for skilled workers, the company worked on initiatives to encourage suppliers and subcontractors to enroll their employees in social insurance schemes by holding seminars on social insurance for business owners, as well as individual consultation sessions.

Women’s Advancement

Obayashi Corporation continuously strives to provide a workplace that helps its employees find a balance between work and family life. As per the Fifth Action Plan (April 2015 to March 2017) based on the Act on Advancement of Measures to Support Raising Next-Generation Children, the system of shortened working hours was expanded and the deadline for using the system for childcare purposes was extended until the end of an employee’s child’s third academic year of elementary school. The plan additionally laid out the company’s aims of deepening employees’ understanding of the childcare leave program and encouraging employees to take childcare leave. The plan also set out the company’s aim to make progress toward providing an environment at construction sites that was comfortable for working mothers. In April 2016, the Next Generation Subsidy (a system that provides a subsidy to an employee who has a baby) was introduced.

Furthermore, based on the aims of Japan’s Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace (enacted in April 2016), the First Action Plan (April 2016 to March 2021) was newly commenced from FY2017.3 to enable individual employees to fully utilize their unique characteristics and skills and work with pride.

This action plan put forth the company’s goals to increase the ratio of female managers and female engineering staff. While the ratio of female managers at the company was 6.4 percent (as of the end of March 2016), a figure already high among large companies in the construction industry, the company set a goal to double the percentage by FY2025.3 (compared to FY2015.3), and to achieve an interim goal of 8 percent by FY2022.3. In addition, with consideration of its target of increasing the ratio of women in technical roles to around 10 percent by FY2025.3, the company continued to employ staff based on individual merit, rather than gender. Also, as a way of encouraging more women to join the construction industry, the company decided to carry out PR aimed at wider society that showcased the working conditions of its female engineers, which it still continues to this day.

Efforts were also made to ensure a comfortable working environment for women at construction sites. The company aimed to install female-only bathrooms, lockers, and changing rooms, along with improving hygiene aspects and ease-of-use of facilities. Steady progress is being made to improve working environments from a woman’s perspective. For example, construction workwear has been redesigned for women. The uniforms are made with comfortable and light fabrics, and helmets are provided with a belt for adjusting the size to fit a smaller head circumference and a transparent chin strap that prevents sunburn marks.

These initiatives were well received, earning the company first place in the construction and real estate category at the 100 Best Companies Where Women Actively Take Part (FY2016.3), held by Nikkei Inc. and Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. The status of a company’s female employees is surveyed using the indicators of female employees’ promotion to managerial positions, work-life balance, the company’s active use of female staff, and gender equality. Factors that were particularly well regarded were eliminating the gap in length of service between men and women and increasing the ratio of women in managerial positions, and led to the company reaching the top of the industry in this regard.

The First Female Construction Site Supervisor

Before the phrase “women’s advancement” entered the mainstream, and even prior to the enactment of the Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment in 1986, Obayashi Corporation had been actively recruiting female engineers, having done so since the late 1970s. Then in 1988, the company appointed its first female construction site supervisor. The company takes the approach that human resources are one of the most important management resources.

The company has a long history of employing people based on individual merit and assigning the right people to the right jobs. In 2003, the company became an industry pioneer by eliminating the practice of recruiting staff into the separate career paths of “Sogo-shoku,” “Senmon-shoku,” and “Ippan-shoku,” and integrating management classifications. This revision to recruiting practices eliminated the gap between the types of jobs held by men and women, and opened up the way for women formerly employed as general administrative staff to become involved in core business operations.

In 2014, the company appointed a female Project Director to oversee construction work related to the installation of an entrance and exit connecting to Namboku Line Tameike-Sanno Station, which was associated with a type 1 urban redevelopment project in the Akasaka 1-chome district. This was the first time a woman had been appointed as a Project Director at a large general contractor in Japan. Following this appointment, a year later in 2015, the company appointed a woman as an overseas Project Director for a highway construction project in Jakarta, Indonesia, which was also a first for a general contractor in Japan.