What Diversity Means to Us

Hitomi Ueda
  • DISABILITIES

With My Colleagues Wishing Me Greater Success, I Can Step Forward More.
I Realized “I can do better!”

Hitomi Ueda GU Fujisawa-Ishikawa Store in Japan

Store Managers Care About My Success and My Colleagues Support Me
GU Opened My Eyes to the Joy of Working with a Nice Team

GU clothes are irresistible. Ever since I started to work here in this store, I have become interested in fashion. I hope customers also feel the same way and continue to enjoy GU.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t feel this way when I joined the company. I mean, my outlook was not very positive for a while. I joined GU through its PWD (Persons With Disabilities) Employment Program and was assigned to backroom operations to do stock work. It was my first time working for an apparel company and I didn’t realize that stocking the merchandize is an important role which contributes enormously to creating a welcoming environment for customers who visit our stores.

But when I realized that my work is an essential part of store operations, my attitude changed. I owe it to the caring support of my colleagues, who patiently showed me how much I was contributing to the overall shopping environment. They taught me how much my work helps my colleagues in improving the whole store so that our customers can shop with ease.

This is when for the first time I truly understood the meaning of team work. The discovery made me quite happy because I began to feel the importance of being a team member. I realized that it’s much more fun and exciting to interact with my colleagues as a team.

I also found out that other people’s positive attitudes can make you positive too. As I got used to working for GU, I began to notice that my colleagues were wishing my success. I felt appreciated and it’s been an uplifting and delightful experience. The store manager tells me frequently, “I have high hopes for you, Ueda-san. You show enthusiasm and eagerness. Let’s keep working together like this.” Such encouragement has been a steady source of my growing motivation.

When I Started to Open Up About Myself,
My Colleagues Opened Their Hearts. I Became a Real Team Member

I think it is very important to understand each other’s “differences” by putting one’s thoughts into words.

Sometimes I have a tendency to become a bit persistent when something really concerns me. In such cases, I find myself trying to perfectly complete a task in a particular way by putting all my effort into it. In other words, I can concentrate really hard when I am doing my favorite work or something that I feel confident about, but I am not good at paying enough attention to errors or omissions when I am not.

There were times when other people around me couldn’t understand such behavioral patterns, and as a result there was a period when I felt dispirited and down. But I started to think that by continuing to work for GU, I can give hope to other people with similar behaviors. Moreover, I thought I can prove to the others that I can reach my potential if I really want to improve myself. All of this depended on how the manager and my colleagues appreciated my aims and agree to work together with my plan.

So, I opened my heart to them and talked about it. They were glad to know about it and started working on how they communicate with me. For example, the manager and my team colleagues began to talk to me and demonstrate things for me in the best possible way for me to understand so that I could learn how to work better and more effectively. Thanks also to their always timely follow-ups, which have been very helpful in improving the quality of my work, I became more capable in the store. That led to me assuming even more responsibilities. I am now also arranging items in the shopping area and serving customers.

The whole process also brought me the pleasant and unexpected bonus of better relationships at work. My communication with my colleagues became more open and more interactive. For instance, when I make mistakes, they simply tell me “Don’t worry! We’ll do it together” or “Let me know if there’s anything and what I can do when you need me”.

I enjoy being part of the team now. The best moments for me at work are when we achieve our performance targets by working together as a team. Unlike how I used to be, I am now sharing my joy with everyone in the team. It’s definitely better and more fun compared with when I was silently slogging away alone at my assigned task.

Anyone Can Work Pleasantly in This Store
It’s a Special Place Where I Can Be Myself

I think the store where I work is an environment in which anyone from different backgrounds can work pleasantly. Everyone is open-minded because we work together towards the same goal. The whole team is fully engaged to improve the store further so that we can bring even greater satisfaction to our customers.

This open-minded platform suits me well. The manager and my colleagues tell me clearly on the spot what I can do to improve my work whenever they notice my shortcomings. I think their frankness reflect their faith in our team work and also how much they want me to succeed as a colleague. Their advice is very helpful and I feel more secure being carefully overseen by the other members of the team.

Only the other day, a colleague returned from her maternity leave. She expects a high standard from me and she can be blunt in her comments when I disappoint her. But surprisingly, she said to me, “Ueda-san, it has been really reassuring having you here at the store with me. That’s why I was able to come back so seamlessly from maternity leave.” I was very happy to hear that.

Working for GU provides me with a great deal of new opportunities to believe I can do much more and better! It’s exciting for me to think how much more I can grow with my colleagues in the near future. Here at GU, I find myself with team members who can really appreciate each other’s differences. I can truly be myself. This is my special place.