Panasonic makes landmark decision on same-sex marriage

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Panasonic said on Thursday (18 February) that it will recognise same-sex marriages in an unusual announcement for a Japanese firm.
 
Although the specifics are yet to be unveiled, the company said it would amend its employment policies including benefits such as wedding leave, gift money and health insurance, a spokesperson said. This would defer on them the same employment rights as married couples.
 
It is planning on doing this by changing the definitions of “marriage” and “partner” in its policies. It will also add a non-discrimination clause into its employee code of conduct. If approved, these changes would come into effect from April.
 
While Japan doesn’t officially recognise same-sex marriages, Panasonic will push ahead with its diversity efforts, said Tetsuya Senmatsu, the firm’s HR manager.
 
“Our basic thinking is that individuals must be respected and their uniqueness must be recognised and nurtured,” he said in a statement.
 
These changes were kicked off by requests from its employees, global trends with LGBTI workers and Panasonic’s status as sponsor of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. One of the game’s main principles is opposing discrimination by sexual orientation.
 
The company has also pioneered other initiatives in the past, including rewarding workers for taking time to exercise. This was innovative at the time since Japanese workers tended to be sedentary, staying at their desks for long periods of time while working.
 
The new changes will affect Panasonic’s global workforce of about 250,000.

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