LGBTQ+ challenge – Why are restaurants tackling it and what specific measures are they taking?

On 13, 2022, U.S. President Biden signed into law a bill protecting the rights of same-sex marriage by the federal government. The new law officially nullifies “The Defense of Marriage Act”, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and mandates that the validity of out-of-state marriage licenses be respected, including those between same-sex and interracial couples.

President Biden said the same day, “For most of our nation’s history, we have failed to protect interracial and same-sex couples. We have failed to treat them with equal dignity and respect. And now the law must recognize interracial and same-sex marriage as legal in every state in the nation.” He stated. The passage of this new law is being widely discussed around the world as a historic and groundbreaking event that “respects the diversity of every individual.

In Japan, we are increasingly seeing words related to diversity such as “genderless,” “diversity,” and “LGBTQ+,” and recently various companies in the food and beverage industry, including major corporations, have announced their respect for diversity among their employees.

In November 2022, “Starbucks Coffee Japan Co., Ltd. “was awarded the highest rating of “Gold” for the second consecutive year in “the PRIDE Index 2022”, which is organized by “Work with Pride” to evaluate the efforts of companies and organizations related to sexual minorities. “Soup Stock Tokyo Co., Ltd.” also received a gold rating in the same index for the third consecutive year. In addition to the two companies in the restaurant industry, “Tridor Holdings, Inc.,” which operates Marugame Noodles, and “Monogatari Corporation”, which operates 626 restaurants in Japan and overseas, also received awards.

In this column, we would like to consider the promotion of understanding and protection of rights regarding LGBTQ+ in restaurants, while explaining this “PRIDE Index” and introducing examples of our efforts.

What is the PRIDE Index?

The “PRIDE Index,” which evaluates the efforts of companies related to LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other sexual minorities), is being developed by the voluntary organization “work with Pride (wwP),” which will be in its seventh year in 2022. The purpose of wwP’s activities is to provide information to promote the creation of workplaces where LGBTQ+ people can work in their own way within Japanese companies, and to provide an opportunity for each company to take a proactive approach.

Five evaluation indicators
The name “PRIDE Indicators” was chosen with the aim of realizing a workplace where LGBTQ+ people can work with pride (PRIDE). The following five evaluation indicators have been established to match the letters of the word PRIDE.

  • Policy: Declaration of Conduct
    We have set this up because we believe it is important for people inside and outside the company to understand that this is not an issue to be tackled by a few people within a company or organization, but rather by the entire organization as a whole.
  • Representation: Community of Parties
    By having a community of concerned parties and a consultation service within the company, the concerned parties can share the same concerns and consult with appropriate specialists. In addition, the community is set up from the perspective that requests regarding the work environment that might be difficult to convey alone can be communicated to the human resources department, etc. as a community.
  • Inspiration: Awareness raising
    We have established this indicator because we believe that it is important to increase understanding of LGBTQ+ people, thereby eliminating discriminatory treatment and creating a work environment where both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ employees can work comfortably.
  • Development: Human Resources Systems and Programs
    We believe it is important to treat LGBTQ+ employees in the same manner as non-LGBTQ+ employees, and to implement measures for transgender employees to the extent possible through the development of benefits and other programs.
  • Engagement/Empowerment: Social Contribution and External Relations
    In order to realize a society in which LGBTQ+ people can live comfortably, it is important for companies to take action not only through internal measures but also in cooperation with various stakeholders, including other companies, NGOs/NPOs, and governments, etc., which can be expected to have a significant effect on society. This is why we have established this indicator.

Source: work with Pride PRIDE Index

[Purpose of the Indicator]
The program will be used as a guideline to make companies and others aware of the requirements for LGBTQ+-friendly workplaces and to promote internal policies.
The program will support the creation of LGBTQ+-friendly workplaces by annually soliciting information on the status of efforts and examples of initiatives by companies and other organizations with respect to this indicator, and by presenting awards to outstanding companies.
The best practices from among the solicited initiatives will be made public to the extent possible to promote public awareness of the status of establishment and concrete methods of creating LGBTQ+-friendly workplaces.

[Type of certification]
One point is awarded for each indicator if the company meets the specified requirements during the applicable period, with a maximum score of 5 points being awarded as “Gold,” 4 points as “Silver,” and 3 points as “Bronze. The “Rainbow” rating has been added as an evaluation indicator to encourage companies that make a medium- to long-term commitment to creating a workplace and society in which LGBTQ+ people can work as they wish, in cooperation with other players and beyond the scope of their own initiatives.

Examples of efforts to promote LGBTQ+ understanding

Starbucks Coffee Japan

Since 2018, Starbucks Coffee Japan K.K. has been promoting its message of inclusion and diversity, “NO FILTER,” which states, “You need a ‘filter’ to brew coffee, but you shouldn’t put a ‘filter’ on people’s hearts. Starbucks Coffee Japan has been awarded the “Gold” award for three consecutive years for its proactive efforts, including a donation of ¥5 million to support LGBTQ+ youth and providing on-site classes for 5,700 students and educators to discuss diversity with LGBTQ+ people and ally (understanding and supporting ALLY/LGBTQ+).

Conducting classes on diversity
Since 2020, the company has been working with ReBit, a certified NPO, to implement the “Rainbow School Project”, in which Starbucks partners (employees) and other LGBTQ+ people share their experiences and discuss diversity with students and educators. The project provides on-site classes on diversity and LGBTQ+ in the hope that young people will acquire correct knowledge about diverse sexuality and feel comfortable going to school.

Disseminating information on LGBTQ+ issues
Information related to support for the LGBTQ+ community and efforts as an ally, including stories about the experiences of those involved, is provided on the owned media “Starbucks Stories Japan”.

Selling products with messages and donating a portion of the proceeds
In 2022, the company will sell the “355ml NOFILTER stainless steel bottle” and the “710ml NOFILTER cold cup tumbler”, and in 2021, it will sell the “Color Changing Cold Cup Set NOFILTER,” in which iced drinks filled with ice are poured into the bottle and a color different from that of the bottle itself appears. 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to ReBit to be used for the Rainbow School Project.

Aiming to create a place where everyone can shine in their own way / Introduction of a personnel system
Two personnel systems have been in place since January 2017.

1. “Special leave for gender reassignment surgery” system
When the company recognizes that a gender reassignment surgery makes it difficult to work for more than five consecutive working days, the employee is entitled to a number of days of paid leave corresponding to his or her years of service. In 2017, the company was selected as a best practice in the “PRIDE Index” of “Human Resources Systems and Programs”.
2. “Same-sex partnership registration” system
For same-sex couples who apply, registered same-sex partners are deemed to be in a “relationship equivalent to marriage” or “equal to a spouse,” and this provides support and assistance for special leave such as congratulatory or condolence visits, childcare or nursing care leave, and transfer to another location. As of October 1, 2021, 16 people have registered.


Soup Stock Tokyo

“Soup Stock Tokyo Co., Ltd.” has been awarded “Gold” for three consecutive years and is promoting LGBTQ+ understanding as part of its efforts to be a brand that is close to each “person” and where everyone can work in their own way and be themselves. The company is promoting LGBTQ+ understanding as one of its initiatives to create a brand where everyone can work in their own way. The company has a policy of not tolerating discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and is implementing a number of initiatives to respect such discrimination.

Considerations in the hiring process, communicating “respect for sexual orientation and gender identity” in hiring policies
The recruitment website clearly states that the company respects the sexual orientation and gender identity of all applicants. Eliminating the gender field in all procedures and processes of the hiring process, including information session applications, resumes/entry sheets, and employment materials.

Conduct in-house seminars for managers and employees/part-time partners
Soup Stock Tokyo Co., Ltd. as well as the “Smiles” group hold in-house seminars. Offline training and online seminars with outside lecturers are also held. In addition, the company holds “Ally meet up” study sessions and regularly publishes articles in its in-house web magazine. The company is actively promoting ally activities (understanding and supporting ALLY/LGBTQ+).

Added “same-sex marriage” to the definition of marriage and spouses
Soup Stock Tokyo Co., Ltd. and the Smiles Group as a whole, added “same-sex marriage” to the definition of marriage and spouse in its employee benefit programs. Employees are eligible for congratulatory and condolence money and marriage leave.

Revision of personnel system and document notations
Even after employees join the company, the gender field is eliminated except for external factors such as the process of issuing official documents, and efforts are being made to eliminate “gender” in work rules and regulations.

Establishment of a specialized consultation service for anonymous consultation
Establish a contact point where any employee or part-time partner can consult with the company. If they wish to consult with us, we will provide support by taking care to ensure that the consultation is conducted outside the company in a place where privacy can be ensured.

Organize events to promote public understanding of LGBTQ+
Soup Stock Tokyo stores will hold an event called “Ally Days” during Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2022, where you can become someone’s Ally by eating soup at each Soup Stock Tokyo store. The event is an opportunity to think about and support diversity through food. A portion of the proceeds from the event are donated to “ReBit”, a non-profit organization that supports all children, including LGBTQ+ children, and they are working together to provide on-site classes at elementary schools.

Editor’s Note

According to a 2020 survey conducted by Dentsu Inc. of 60,000 people aged 20-59 nationwide, 8.9% of all respondents answered that they themselves fall into the LGBTQ+ demographic. The figure of “8.9% of the total” indicates that even if you are not a member of the LGBTQ+ group yourself, it is possible that someone close to you, such as a family member, friend, or co-worker, falls into this category. While LGBTQ+ issues are by no means a stranger to the LGBTQ+ community, according to the ReBit survey, 75.6% of transgender people experience difficulties or harassment during the employment hiring process. Even if they are able to find a job, 10.5% of LGBTQ+ people between the ages of 25-34 have experienced long-term absences or leaves of absence in the past year, and 13.0% have resigned from their jobs.

For restaurants to seriously address issues related to LGBTQ+ will not only lead to the promotion of sustainability in their restaurants, but also to the securing of human resources in the restaurant industry, where labor shortages are becoming more and more serious. It is clear that securing excellent human resources is directly related to improving service at restaurants. From a multifaceted perspective, why not consider LGBTQ+ issues and other efforts to “protect the rights of all workers and promote a safe and secure working environment”?

[Related Article]


[Reference site] work with Pride PRIDE Index
[Reference Site] PRIDE Index 2022 Report
[Reference Site] Biden Just Signed Same-Sex Marriage Protections Into Law
[Reference site] Press Release (11/29/2022): Starbucks Donates ¥5 Million to Support LGBTQ+ Youth; Provides 5,700 students and educators with on-site classes to discuss diversity with LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. Received the highest rating of “Gold” in the PRIDE Index for two consecutive years for its efforts related to sexual diversity.
[Reference Site] Press Release (11/11/2021): Starbucks Coffee Japan Receives Gold PRIDE Index for its Gender Diversity Initiatives
[Reference site] Soup Stock Tokyo has received the highest rank of “Gold” in the LGBTQ index “PRIDE Index” for three consecutive years.
[Reference site] Dentsu conducts “LGBTQ+ Survey 2020”.
[Reference Site] Preliminary Survey / 48% of teen LGBTQs have experienced suicidal thoughts and 14% have attempted suicide in the past year. Compared to the national survey, high school students are 10 times more likely to experience truancy. However, over 90% do not feel safe talking to their teachers, staff, or parents.

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