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Mercari, Inc.

We're introducing companies that has been using the services of Fourth Valley Concierge and is proactively pursuing global recruitment. This time, we spoke to Liz Cheng, who worked in global recruitment at Mercari, Inc., the leading Japanese tech company that operates the Mercari flea market app, and is now a Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP).

Diversity at Mercari, a company that values diversity
and different cultures
Mercari, Inc.
Human Resource Business Partner
Liz Cheng

Tell me about when you joined the company and what you're doing now.

I graduated from a university in Hong Kong 4 years ago and got a job in Japan. I have been working at Mercari since December 2017. I have been working in a department called HRBP (Human Resource Business Partner) since May after setting up the Global Recruitment and Diversity & Inclusion projects.

Your company is in the spotlight as a company that is actively recruiting foreigners. When and how did you start hiring foreigners?

There was no single moment where we decided to hire foreigners. We have always welcomed applications from abroad. We wanted to hire excellent people regardless of nationality, so we didn't limit ourselves to Japanese applicants. It was only after the interview session in Taiwan in 2017 that we started to actively go abroad to hire.

How many foreign employees do you currently have on staff?

About 10% of our employees are foreign nationals. They come from about 40 countries.

What kind of support do you provide to those who join your company from overseas?

There are many employees who joined the company as new graduates from overseas, but there are also some who joined the company after graduating and without knowing Japanese, so we support them by reducing stress so that they can use their full potential after joining the company. Specifically, the company supports their Japanese language studies from the time they are offered the position until they join the company, and even after they join. We can also help employees with visa applications, flight arrangements, as well as resident and bank account registration.

What kind of language support do you provide?

There are two types of language support. The first is language support, and the second is translation and interpretation. Mercari has both Japanese and English language teachers, and we have our in-house language program. We also have classes to learn the language necessary for working in our company, so that they can use it in practice.
We also have chat lunches where employees can exchange information in the language they are learning. There are two types of chat lunches, one in Japanese and one in English, and they are divided into three levels, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced, so that people with the same level of language can learn while enjoying their lunch. The lunch is also subsidized by the company. We also have a team of translators and interpreters, and we have a team that can interpret meetings and translate documents when necessary.

Is there any other communication support besides language?

Yes, we have been focusing on cross-cultural communication lately, and our Diversity & Inclusion team, supports the company's community. There is a large number of global members in the multicultural community and an interest in promoting a multicultural environment. We have a group of members who are highly motivated and supportive. There is also a training program called Unconscious Bias Training. This program is designed to improve communication literacy because people can hurt others without them even realizing it. One of the interesting things we've been trying to do lately is to spread the concept of "easy Japanese" throughout the company. The bilingual environment in our company is constantly evolving, but we are trying to communicate in gentler language and easy English/Japanese, and this is a must-have training for managers.

What changes have you seen in your business before and after the increase in the number of foreigners?

By bringing together members with diverse values from many countries, we have been able to solve problems from multiple perspectives. Originally, the ability to compete in a global environment is required for both Japanese and foreign nationals, so there were no distinctions between jobs. Diversity is very important for us to create a universal service that is used globally to achieve our mission of creating a global marketplace that creates new value. I think this is the change we've brought to the business.

What are some of the changes you've seen within the company?

In October 2018, 44 new graduates from around the world joined the company. There was an increased interest in cross-cultural communication within the company. For example, we've increased the number of English language references in our materials to help everyone understand them, and we're starting to be more flexible and willing to learn each other's languages, such as Japanese Tuesday and English Friday, where each team has a themed language day. We have a variety of lunches, including mentor lunches, shuffle lunches, and welcome lunches, but we also pay attention to any food restrictions before holding a lunch meeting. Also, when we invite people from inside and outside the company to events such as meetups, we put a sticker on our chest that says "Japanese is OK" or "Studying English" to make it easier to understand. There are many things that aren't apparent on the outside, so I've become aware of the diversity of the company. English is now used more often for internal channels and daily reports. The more diversity there is, the more opportunity exists to learn.

Do you have a message for companies that are thinking about starting a global recruitment program?

I think it's a good idea to sort out the premise of what you are hiring globally for. Defining what kind of people you want to hire is the most important thing when you start hiring globally. There is a saying in Japan that "when in Rome, do as the Romans do," but this is not necessarily true.

Do you have a message for people like you, who are now in overseas and want to work in Japan?

I decided to go to Japan right after graduating from univeristy. So I had nothing to lose and it was a time when it was easy to challenge myself. Opportunities to work abroad are rare, so if you have a chance or an environment that allows you to work abroad, I encourage you to try it!

Right: Liz Cheng, Mercari Inc.
Left: Aki Takeda, Executive Director, Fouth Valley Concierge Corporation

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