Human Resources Philosophy and Approach

Overview of the Aozora Group’s Human Resources and Organization

The Aozora Group is a manageably sized entity with approximately 2,300 employees, offering specialized and value-added financial services in its “6 Areas of Focus”.
The composition of Aozora’s workforce is somewhat unique, with a mid-career hire rate that is relatively high for a domestic bank: new grad hires represented only 60% of new employees while mid-career hires were 40%. Aozora’s corporate culture enables employees with diverse viewpoints and values to play important roles, encourages everyone to freely express their opinions, and places a high priority on teamwork.
As a result of Aozora’s unique composition and corporate culture, we are able to provide our customers with financial services by leveraging our skill base and organizational flexibility.

Basic Policies for HR Strategy

Aozora has developed a basic policy for its human resources strategy that aims to create a workplace that encourages employees to work with a high level of morale, motivation, and pride while prioritizing teamwork and a willingness to take on new challenges.

  1. Performance-based HR system
    We strive to establish a consistent HR system based not on seniority but capabilities and job responsibilities. We also aim to treat employees fairly through our “Pay-for-Performance” system by conducting comprehensive performance evaluations.
  2. Professionalism and skills enhancement
    We encourage employees to improve their professional skill sets so that customers come to choose Aozora as a trusted Partner Bank.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion
    We strive to build a dynamic organization where employees with diverse backgrounds can play important roles. We also seek to improve our working environment by allowing for flexible working styles.

Aozora HR Reform

Aozora’s HR Reform began in FY2020 to help the Bank grow into a financial group that facilitates teamwork and further encourages employees to accept new challenges. One major change was that our career courses were re-organized, resulting in the “non-professional career” category being eliminated and all career positions being classified as either “Global Professional”, “Regional Professional”, or “IT Professional”. This new system encourages our employees to take on new challenges and assume more active roles. In addition, a new compensation system was introduced, with more clearly defined policies for promotions and raises that are based on fair and transparent performance evaluations. One result of this change is that job seniority is no longer taken into consideration in deciding employee job promotions. We will strive to motivate employees by facilitating “Pay-for-Performance” to allow young and talented employees to receive promotions earlier than before.
In order to work closely with our employees in smoothly rolling out our HR Reforms, Aozora holds small-sized meetings in which small groups of Executive Officers and employees are asked to consider current issues at the Bank and the importance of HR Reform, and then discuss their point of view through a free exchange of opinions. These opportunities allow us to promote teamwork and further reinforce a sense of unity as an organization while encouraging employees to fully demonstrate their abilities in order to create new value-added financial services and contribute to society.

Outline of Aozora HR Reform

  • 1. Reorganize career courses into three tracks: Global Professional, Regional Professional, and IT Professional
  • 2. Introduce a new career course for IT professionals
  • 3. Restructure compensation system to incentivize taking on new challenges
  • 4. Offer more opportunities for those with strong capabilities and expertise in particular areas to play more active roles
  • 5. Review compensation system for senior employees and support their second career path by permitting second jobs
  • 6. Implement measures for staff development and stronger teamwork

Recruitment and Development of Personnel to Support Value Creation

Recruitment strategy

Aozora Bank relaunched in 2001, and since that time, we have recruited talented new graduates and mid-career hires. As of March 2021, our workforce is comprised of 58% new graduates and 42% mid-career hires.
To attract students with diverse backgrounds, we established a system in which new grads employed in the Global Professional Career course can select their assigned divisions, including digital transformation, corporate financing, international business, specialty financing, and market business. In order to recruit talented employees, Aozora offers the highest initial monthly salary in the banking industry (240,300 yen) and offers unique financial support and student loan repayment programs.
The Bank also recruits mid-career professionals, including individuals with high potential and those with specialized skills and experience, mainly for high-level job positions. We believe that our workforce has become more diverse as a result of recruiting employees with experience in other industries.

Utilization of Human Resources Prioritizing Enhanced Professionalism

We believe it is very important for our employees to enhance their skill sets and expertise by gaining a wide variety of experiences and performing job duties that meet their individual needs for self-fulfillment and willingness to grow. In order to achieve this, Aozora offers flexible career paths and encourages employees willing to obtain high level skills and expertise.
For example, employees in the “Global Professional” career track learn business basics by joining three different divisions within their first eight years at the Bank in order to gain experience in a wide range of operations. Mid-level employees and managers in their 30s and 40s are encouraged to further their expertise in the mid- to long-term.

Professional Development

Aozora offers a range of training programs for both our junior and more experienced employees that fall under the two pillars of mindfulness/skills training and practical training. We conduct programs for managers, such as the 360-degree feedback program as well as coaching and evaluators’ training, so that they can effectively support their employees’ growth. Aozora University is open to applicants regardless of age and job position. Aozora Credit Analysis Training School, sponsored by the Corporate Banking Group, and Aozora Academy at Aoyama, led by the Retail Banking Group, help educate young employees and new mid-career hires so that they are prepared to assume their new job duties in a timely fashion.
To promote the personal-development of our employees, Aozora provides financial support when employees take qualification exams, study at correspondence courses, or participate in outside seminars. The Bank has encouraged employees to continue their study of English by paying a portion of the fees to take the TOEIC test as well as private English lessons in order to foster high performance in international business. Aozora also sends employees to graduate schools as a part of leadership programs in order to support the development of future managers.

an image about Professional Development

In FY2020, we held the Communication Forum in order to foster closer communication and stronger teamwork in the new working environment. Supervisors and their employees discussed their individual perspectives on a range of topics in small groups.
Aozora plans to conduct several new programs in FY2021, such as the Digital Talents Development Program, which aims to enhance IT literacy, and business training programs to help young and female employees gain experience in more new business areas.
The Digital Talents Development Program is an internal training initiative for employees involved in promoting and supporting digitalization in order to ensure the Aozora Group’s sustainability. The Program offers two courses; a Standard Course for all of Aozora’s officers and employees, which offers personal-development seminars and e-learning programs, and an Intensive Course designed to foster digital talents.

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Support for Career Development

Aozora believes that our employees’ job-satisfaction and desire for personal-fulfillment directly affects our growth, and offers a wide range of support for employees to pursue their individual career paths.
When transferring staff between divisions, we make use of the Career Plan Sheets each employees completes every year. The HR Division and Group Heads closely monitor employees’ preferences, capabilities, and aptitude before deciding on a transfer. As a result of Aozora’s manageable size, officers and employees generally know one another quite well. This means we can quickly and thoughtfully assign staff in order to respond to changes in the business environment while fully taking into consideration our employees’ career plans.
In FY2019, Aozora launched a Job Support Program that enables employees to work on projects for other divisions while still belonging to their assigned division. This program has received a lot of recognition and the number of applicants has increased year after year. Several participants even eventually transferred to the division they worked with via this program.
In FY2020, we implemented several other career support programs in line with Aozora’s HR Reform, including 1. “Regional Professional” Career Training, 2. a Short-term Internal Trainee Program, 3. dispatch to other business entities (the Mushashugyo), 4. the Aozora Career Support Leave Program, and 5. lifted restrictions on obtaining second jobs.

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Career Support Programs

Program

Overview

Overview

Overview

Job-posting

Internal job-posting program that supports employees in realizing their career aspirations. Approximately 50 positions posted a year

Career challenge

Internal job-posting program for senior employees that allows them to take on new job duties in order for them to play more active roles

Job support

Career development system where employees can temporarily take on new job responsibilities in their preferred division while staying in their current position

Overseas trainee

Job-posting program that dispatches young or mid-level employees to work at an overseas office for two years in order to support global human resources development that allows employees to gain experience working overseas

(New)
Regional Professional Career Training

Training to aid employees who recently shifted career tracks in thinking about their future career by classifying their personal strengths and values in order to further develop their leadership skills

(New)
Short-term Internal Trainee Program

Development program that allows new employees to work in a wide range of divisions for short periods to provide them with training and job experience

(New) Mushashugyo

Program that dispatches young or mid-level employees to work at other business entities to enhance their creativity and expertise

(New) Aozora Career Support Leave Program

Program which supports flexible working styles to match employees’ life plans by granting leave for reasons related to relocation due to study abroad or a spouse's job transfer

(New) Lifted restrictions on obtaining second jobs

Lifted restrictions on obtaining a second job as a business owner

Better Working Environment

Aozora offers the following programs and welfare systems to foster a working environment where employees can pursue long careers and achieve a better work-life balance.
In FY2020, the Bank further expanded its work-from-home system, staggered-commuting, and split-shift programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic while considering each employees’ work responsibilities. These changes contributed to the improvement of Aozora’s working environment and the smooth implementation of business continuity.

Programs and Initiatives for a Better Working Environment

Program

Overview

Program

Overview

Flextime system

System that allows employees to alter their workday start and finish times as long as they achieve a certain number of hours-worked per month

Work from Home and Mobile Work Program

System that allows employees to work outside of the office based on their personal work style

Staggered commuting system

System that allows employees to alter their workday start and finish times in order to avoid rush-hour commutes while maintaining their regular number of daily hours-worked

Short time work program

Program that shortens working hours of employees who are pregnant or need to provide child or nursing care

Exemption of Overtime, Late-night, and Holiday Work

Program that allows exemption of overtime, late-night, and holiday work for employees who are pregnant, within one year of giving birth, on maternity leave, or need to provide nursing care

Maternity Leave

Leave granted 6 weeks prior and 8 weeks after giving birth

Childcare leave

Leave granted when an employee’s child is under 1 and half years old, or until the end of April past the child’s first birthday

Child nursing care leave

5 days of leave granted per year, or 10 days in the case of more than one child, for use when their pre-elementary school age child is sick or injured

Nursing care “Kyuka” leave

Leave granted when an employee must provide nursing care to family members. 10 days per year, or 20 days in the case of more than one family member

Nursing care “Kyugyou” leave

Leave granted when an employee must provide daily nursing care to family members. 365 days in total, possible to divide this leave into up to 12 parts if necessary

Job Return Program

System designed to support the return of employees who previously retired from the Bank

  • These programs are open to all employees regardless of employment contract.

Aozora’s Work Style Reform

Since FY2016, Aozora has promoted its Flextime Program that allows employees to determine when they work as long as they achieve a target total monthly hours worked. This program has no core period during which employees need to physically be at the office. All managers and about 70% of non-managers have utilized this program. The Flextime Program enables employees to effectively manage their work schedule, especially when their workload varies within a given month, and improves work-life-balance and productivity.
We introduced our Work from Home and Mobile Work Programs in 2017, providing the IT infrastructure that enables employees to work from home. Employees are allowed to work remotely upon obtaining their supervisor’s approval. As office attendance must be strictly limited during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more employees have begun to use these programs, and they offer an effective new working style in the new business environment.
These kinds of flexible working initiatives are not usually seen within the Japanese banking industry, and Aozora will strive to further enhance its employees’ working styles.

Flextime usage statistics

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Work-from-home usage statistics

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Health and Productivity Management Initiatives

We believe that our employees’ mental and physical wellness has a direct effect on Aozora’s corporate value and business performance, and have implemented a wide range of Health and Productivity Management initiatives.
Aozora and the Aozora Bank Health Insurance Society have worked closely together to provide regular health checkups, stress checks, and other measures to promote working hour management and reduce overtime. Aozora also offers financial support for its employees’ medical examinations as well as health checkups and gynecological exams for family members.
The Bank regularly monitors its employees working hours through objective attendance data, such as PC logs. On average, our employees’ monthly non-statutory working hours are at the relatively low level of approximately 10 hours and 20 minutes. We will implement ongoing initiatives to prevent long hours by encouraging employees to prioritize tasks for greater efficiency.
In March 2021, the Bank received the “2021 Corporate Health Achievement Award” (large-scale companies category). We will continue to implement effective initiatives to promote our employees’ and their families’ health.

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Diversity and Inclusion

The executive officer in charge of the Human Resources Unit leads diversity and inclusion initiatives designed to create a work environment where employees from diverse backgrounds can play active roles at our company. We recently established the “Aozora Bank Group Human Rights Policy”, and are enhancing our initiatives in line with this policy and Aozora’s “Code of Ethics and Conduct”, which forms the base of the Bank’s Management Philosophy.

Initiatives for Diversity-Oriented Career Support of Core Talent

Aozora promotes employees to more senior positions by assessing candidates’ ability and performance, regardless of gender or nationality.

Amid significant changes within the industrial structure, we need to respect various perspectives and systems of value in order to achieve sustainable growth and enhance our corporate value. Aozora will continue to actively recruit employees with experience, skills, and varied professional backgrounds while providing a working environment in which they can perform well.

1. Human Resources Development Policies

Polices

Actions

Polices

Actions

【Policy 1】 Diversity-oriented recruitment and consistent merit-based evaluation

・Continue to hire those mid-career as well as new grads
・Hold recruitment events for women

【Policy 2】 Support female employees’ career development

・Encourage female employees to gain experience in new business areas by implementing a wide range of training programs
・Improve development programs, such as the internal short-term trainee program

【Policy 3】 Improve Aozora’s working environment in order to support employees with varied backgrounds

・Promote flexible working styles and use of paid leave for better work-life balance
・Hold interview sessions and seek feedback from domestic and overseas employees to consistently improve the working environment

In order to ensure a diverse workforce, we set hiring goals for female, non-Japanese, and mid-career managers, especially for managers who lead business management. While one of the Bank’s main characteristics is a high percentage of mid-career managers, we believe that our percentage of female managers is not yet high enough. We will strive to maintain our current level of mid-career managers and strengthen our core talent pool by establishing a target ratio of female deputy managers while increasing our percentage of female managers by 20% going forward.

2. Goals

Categories

Current ratios

Ratios to be achieved

Target

Female managers

11.8%

13% or over

March-end, 2023

Female deputy managers

33.5%

35% or over

Non-Japanese managers

2.9%

3% or over

Mid-career managers

42.5%

40% or over

To be maintained

  1. Managers are equivalent to those in a position of supervision or management stated in the Labor Standards Act: Total of general managers and group managers.
  2. Deputy managers are one position below managers.
  3. Non-Japanese managers: including those working in domestic/overseas subsidiaries excluding GMO Aozora Net Bank
  4. Base date: as of March-end 2021

Creating Opportunities for Female Employees

At Aozora, the average length of service of female employees (15.4 years) is almost the same as that of male employees (14.5 years) as of March 31, 2021. Generally, this is not very common in Japan. Our working environment supports employees in pursuing a long career regardless of gender. We will continue to develop a comfortable working environment by making sure the average length of our female employees’ tenure is within one year of our male employees. As of July 2021, the Bank has one fulltime female Director, three female executive officers and has continued to promote capable female employees to management positions.
In FY2020, we re-organized our career courses, resulting in “Normal Positions” being eliminated and all career positions being classified as either “Global Professional”, “Regional Professional”, or “IT Professional”. This has enabled our female employees to gain a wider range of job experience and play more active roles in their own career growth and promotion. Aozora also encourages its female employees to participate in its newly implemented “Regional Professional” training programs and the Internal Short-term Trainee Program in order to support them in gaining experience by taking on challenges in new areas.
We plan to continue providing proactive support via personnel transfers so that female employees can play leading roles and be promoted to key positions at Aozora Bank.

Status of female employees

July 2017

July 2018

July 2019

July 2020

July 2021

① Executive officers

1 (4.8%)

1 (4.8%)

2 (9.1%)

2 (9.1%)

4 (16.7%)

FY2016

FY2017

FY2018

FY2019

FY2020

② General managers

7 (8.0%)

10 (11.2%)

10 (11.4%)

11 (11.3%)

11 (11.5%)

③ Group managers

53 (10.6%)

55 (10.7%)

60 (11.7%)

64 (12.1%)

64 (11.8%)

④ Total of(②+③)

60 (10.2%)

65 (10.8%)

70 (11.6%)

75 (12.0%)

75 (11.8%)

⑤ Deputy managers

75 (27.3%)

89 (31.2%)

98 (32.9%)

105 (33.3%)

107 (33.5%)

⑥ Employees

793 (45.9%)

837 (46.8%)

896 (47.7%)

904 (47.0%)

899 (46.5%)

  1. Managers are equivalent to those in a position of supervision or management stated in the Labor Standards Act: Total of general managers and group managers.
  2. Deputy manager is a job title one step lower than group manager's.

Reference: external evaluation

Aozora selected for “MSCI Japan Empowering Women Index (WIN)”

In June 2018, Aozora was selected for the “MSCI Japan Empowering Women Index (WIN).” This index is designed to recognize the performance of Japanese companies that exhibit a commitment to promoting and maintaining gender diversity and is used as an index in the passive management of ESG investments by Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund.

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  • The inclusion of Aozora Bank, Ltd. in any MSCI index, and the use of MSCI logos, trademarks, service marks or index names herein, do not constitute a sponsorship, endorsement or promotion of Aozora Bank, Ltd. by MSCI or any of its affiliates. The MSCI index are the exclusive property of MSCI. MSCI and the MSCI index names and logos are trademarks or service marks of MSCI or its affiliates.

Aozora certified as an “Eruboshi” company

In March 2019, Aozora was granted an "Eruboshi" certification. The "Eruboshi" certification system was established by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare in accordance with the Act of Promotion of Women's Participation and Advancement in the Workplace in order to recognize businesses that excel at encouraging female employees to assume meaningful roles in the workplace.

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Aozora certified as a “Kurumin” company

In August 2021, Aozora was granted a "Kurumin" certification by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. This certification is granted to businesses that offer strong support for employees’ child care.

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Initiatives for Employees with Disabilities

Employees that have Mental Health & Welfare Counselor and Job Coach qualifications are encouraged to play active roles in finding ways to improve the Bank’s working environment for those with disabilities.
In FY2020, we introduced the “UD Talk®” app, which translates speech into text for people with hearing impairments, as well as offered a seminar entitled “Leaning more about hearing impairments” to increase our officers’ awareness. The participants learned about issues that employees with hearing impairments face and were able to experience a deafness simulation. In April 2021, we established the Aozora Sign Language Club so that employees can enjoy learning sign language, and Aozora will continue its efforts to improve its working environment.
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Aozora conducts a broad range of socially-responsible initiatives, including offering programs designed to deal with key issues regarding stable employment, actively recruiting people with disabilities, as well as establishing daycare centers for people with mental disabilities and employment transition support centers. We also delivered a presentation on our efforts at the 28th Vocational Rehabilitation Workshop sponsored by Japan Organization for Employment of the Elderly, Persons with Disabilities and Job Seekers.

Human Rights Initiatives

Aozora established a Human Rights Awareness Committee to incorporate human rights concepts into its corporate culture in order to support our company in conducting business while also protecting human rights. Human rights seminars are held twice a year to increase employees’ awareness of human rights issues.
In FY2020, these seminars covered the themes of “COVID-19 & Human Rights, Black Lives Matter & Privilege ~Insight into Discrimination~” and “Human Rights as an Individual Issue ~Perspectives on Diversity, Disabilities and Infectious Diseases~”.
The Human Rights Awareness Committee participates in annual human rights slogan campaigns sponsored by the Japanese Bankers Association and Industrial Federation for Human Rights (Tokyo), and asks employees to think about recent human rights topics as well as create slogans for the campaign. In recent years, the number of participants has steadily increased, and our employees have become more aware of the importance of protecting human rights.

Data on Aozora Bank employees

FY2016

FY2017

FY2018

FY2019

FY2020

No. of employees

1,730

1,787

1,878

1,928

1,933

Male

937 (54%)

950 (53%)

982 (52%)

1,024 (53%)

1,034 (53%)

Female

793 (46%)

837 (47%)

896 (48%)

904 (47%)

899 (47%)

Employee composition

New hire

61%

60%

59%

58%

58%

Mid-hire

39%

40%

41%

42%

42%

Average age

42.5

42.7

42.8

43.1

43.3

Male

43.8

44.0

44.1

44.1

44.0

Female

40.9

41.2

41.4

41.9

42.5

Average length of service

14.5 years

14.5 years

14.5 years

14.6 years

14.9 years

Male

14.4 years

14.5 years

14.6 years

14.5 years

14.5 years

Female

14.8 years

14.5 years

14.4 years

14.8 years

15.4 years

No. of new hires

52

54

62

61

65

Male

19 (37%)

21 (39%)

25 (40%)

39 (64%)

46 (71%)

Female

33 (63%)

33 (61%)

37 (60%)

22 (36%)

19 (29%)

No. of mid-hires

80

88

80

63

46

Male

46 (57%)

45 (51%)

43 (54%)

45 (71%)

32 (70%)

Female

34 (43%)

43 (49%)

37 (46%)

18 (29%)

14 (30%)

Male/female ratio (new hire and mid-hire)

Male

43%

40%

40%

47%

70%

Female

70%

54%

52%

32%

30%

New hire/mid-hire ratio

New hire

39%

38%

44%

49%

59%

Mid-hire

61%

62%

56%

51%

41%

Retention of new hires 3 years after employed

90%

91%

94%

87%

87%

No. of retirees (mandatory retirement and retirement for private reasons)

46 (3.2%)

45 (2.5%)

53 (2.8%)

59 (3.1%)

51 (2.6%)

Female managers ratio

10.2%

10.8%

11.6%

12.0%

11.8%

Non-Japanese managers ratio*

2.4%

2.5%

2.6%

2.4%

2.9%

Mid-hire mangers ratio

32.2%

34.9%

37.9%

39.9%

42.5%

Employees with disabilities

No. of employees

20

20

23

28

28

Employment ratio

1.7%

1.7%

1.9%

2.2%

2.2%

Hours worked, exceeding Labor Standards Act-determined hours (monthly average)

11.0 hours

9.0 hours

8.3 hours

8.9 hours

10.3 hours

Days of paid leave used (annual average)

14.4 days

14.8 days

15.5 days

15.6 days

13.3 days

No. of child leave users

17 (100%)

40 (83%)

65 (86%)

41 (72%)

61 (82%)

Male

0 (0%)

14 (67%)

15 (58%)

14 (47%)

24 (65%)

Female

17 (100%)

26 (96%)

50 (100%)

27 (100%)

37 (100%)

Female reinstatement ratio after child leave

100%

88%

91%

100%

100%

No. of unpaid nursing leave users

0

0

0

0

1

No. of paid nursing leave users

13

15

16

15

19

  • * Data of employees of domestic and overseas group companies, excluding GMO Aozora Net Bank