What Diversity Means to Us

Oskari Hamalainen
  • GLOBAL

Working in a Dynamic Diverse Company to Achieve Inclusive Globalization

Oskari Hamalainen Manager, Global Education, Fast Retailing

Offering Support and Guidance for Every Essential and Talented Player

I joined Fast Retailing eight years ago. I knew it would become one of the truly globalized companies, and I was right. It’s main source of dynamic growth has been the motivated and diverse talent that we have globally. Thanks to their effort, UNIQLO is now a well-known brand around the world. My job has been to help accelerate the company’s exciting journey of inclusive globalization.

UNIQLO’s growth has been truly amazing. Only just about 20 years ago, its first overseas store opened in London. As part of Fast Retailing, UNIQLO is the world’s third largest maker and retailer of universally acceptable and affordable clothing. With over 2,200 stores across 25 markets, the number of UNIQLO stores overseas is far exceeds the number of stores in Japan. I don’t think it is just a Japanese company anymore, it is also a global enterprise.

My main task is creating a working environment where everyone from differing backgrounds can achieve their full potential. I suppose you can call it building and maintaining the basis of diversity and inclusion. It helps all of us to be relevant to society’s needs and goals. It also helps us serve our customers worldwide with the utmost care and offer the best shopping experiences.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion as Our Core Value and Strength

I believe that diversity and inclusion go hand in hand with our expanding global activities. They are our corporate backbone. To show just one example, the number of non-Japanese staff at our Tokyo headquarter has increased an impressive six-fold since I joined. I hope to bring the number of international talent up to at least a third of the total headquarters staff. This way, I believe that we are also doing our part to globalize Japan.

English is becoming a vital communicating language in Tokyo headquarters where I am based. We offer comprehensive orientation and routine support for our new global members. My job is to find and remove both the invisible and visible barriers for different people to be able to work effectively and to succeed together. We embrace individualities and uniqueness as our core value and strength.

We work hard every day to create an environment where new members can fit in nicely and concentrate on their daily work comfortably. I offer my advice for how to interpret the company’s underlying corporate values, history and culture. There are lessons in Japanese culture and language too. I also guide the Japanese leaders, managers and Overseas assignees to blend in naturally with the global talent.

Our global activities are expanding fast and that makes me feel even more energized to care about diversity and inclusion. I promote mutual communication and understanding among the diverse managerial staff and essential players around the world, so I travel to many different markets to offer my support and guidance.

Perhaps, I act like a bridge that makes the meeting of minds easier and to reach over to people with different backgrounds. My background of having lived in five different countries helps me as an effective educator.

Leading the Global Sustainability Education Tutoring Programs for the Next Quick Decisions, Quick Action

There’s still a lot of room for you to leave your mark in this dynamic company. In a way, we are like a start-up. We are optimistic and never afraid of pursuing challenging goals. Now is the best time to join us. We want broad and diverse talent from anywhere in the world to join so that you can become our next leaders.

You can be successful and be promoted rapidly if you identify issues for the business and drive solutions with other members. We always learn a lot from new members because their diverse backgrounds allow us to see new frontiers. That enables us to contribute much better to society.

I’ll share just one example to illustrate my point. After I joined the company, I became responsible for promoting the global sustainability education programs. My director asked me the scale of the operation. I was thinking about several thousand people to start with. But he casually suggested we should include all staff from the beginning, which numbered 110,000 at that time. This episode is just one example of our daily business: good ideas are turned into reality very briskly and effectively at Fast Retailing.

Contributing to Society by Offering the Best Customers Experience with the Utmost Care

I visit our UNIQLO stores frequently. Stores help us to see reality, the actual world. We encourage all our members to always consider our customers and the places where we serve them.

In the stores, you see the world unfolding. You see the rich diversity of our customers and see the caring staff assisting them. It makes me feel more energized to work hard and to create a better working environment after such visits.

All these kinds of experience remind me about our foundation. We are here to offer the ultimate casual clothing and best customer experiences for all of our customers. We sincerely value the diversity of our members and our customers and doing so allows us to contribute more to society.

I think that’s the core value of Fast Retailing that has been guiding our amazing growth as an inclusive global company. I enjoy the exciting and enriching experience enormously.