To proactively encourage gender equality in childcare, the Sony Group has further expanded its measures for supporting the balance between childcare and work from this fiscal year. Part Two introduces new features on real-life experiences and our in-company communities, starting in the Sony Group in Japan this fiscal year.
As an optional project for the July 13, 2023, seminar Work-Life Balance Strategies For The Current Child-Rearing Generation 2023 introduced in Part One, we held a Workshop on Child-rearing for Fathers (Real-life Pregnancy Experiences) on July 27, 2023. The real-life experiences were designed to give men an opportunity to understand the difficulties that may arise during pregnancy and proactively face the challenges of supporting expectant mothers and raising children after childbirth. The event was attended by male employees with pregnant partners, pregnant female employees and their partners, as well as employees who are raising children or want to prepare for future life events.
Born in Wakayama Prefecture in 1978 in Japan. Graduated from Kanazawa Institute of Technology, College of Engineering, Department of Information and Computer Science. Acquired a Ph. D in Engineering from Kanazawa Institute of Technology in 2008. After serving as an instructor at Kanazawa College of Technology and Kanazawa Institute of Technology, he became an associate professor at the Department of Media Informatics, Faculty of Informatics, Kanagawa Institute of Technology. He is currently an associate professor at the Department of Information Media Technology, School of Information Science and Technology, Tokai University.
The proceedings started with a lecture by Ph.D. Kosaka. Based on his own experience, Ph.D. Kosaka explained that although it is impossible to fully understand the difficulties a pregnant partner may face, he believes it is vital to be considerate, empathetic, and supportive. He talked about developing the Mommy Tummy system for simulating the difficulties and joys of pregnancy. He also described how the development of the Crying Baby newborn simulator system was triggered by his own experience of suddenly having to raise a newborn alone, and the importance of gaining knowledge about taking care of newborns in advance. Finally, he recommended that prospective fathers take at least three to six months of childcare leave if possible, but to be sure to take one month's leave if it is not.
Participants then tried out the Mommy Tummy pregnancy simulator system for themselves. This system simulates both the physical and emotional burdens of pregnancy, and the joys of feeling the warmth and fetal movements transmitted through the body. The jacket used by the wearer comprises a water bag to simulate the weight and warmth of the fetus and balloons to mimic fetal movements, providing a short experience of the first to the tenth month of pregnancy. Jacket wearers can also experience the physical strain pregnant women feel when they lie on their backs or pick up objects that have fallen on the floor. Participants were surprised at the weight of the fetus as they experienced the changes that affect pregnant women.
The Crying Baby newborn simulator system was also on display. This simulator replicates similar timing to a newborn baby crying for milk and diaper changes, but as there is no power button to stop it doing so, constant soothing is the only way to quieten it. Confounded by the ceaseless wailing of the Crying Baby, participants experienced one aspect of the tough task of taking care of newborn babies.
The participants took part in a roundtable discussion in parallel with the simulated pregnancy experience. Participants who were experiencing pregnancy and childbirth for the first time asked about the length of parental leave, what they should do to prepare for childbirth and childcare, and the items that would be useful to have. Expert midwives and public health nurses from the Wellness Development Dept. of Sony People Solutions Inc. also took part in the roundtable discussion, distributing reference materials about what to do before and after the birth and providing advice on questions and concerns regarding pregnant women's health.
Participants' comments about the simulated pregnancy experience included: "I realized it is very important to understand my partner's feelings and physical burden;" "Moving from one place to another and various other actions are more difficult than I expected, and I felt that we should be more considerate towards pregnant women;" and "I caught a glimpse of the dangers of living with a fragile, delicate being in your abdomen." With regard to the roundtable discussion, one participant commented that "It was good to hear about the experiences of senior staff and the advice of expert midwives."
Many female employees of the Sony Group who are balancing work and childcare participate in the volunteer in-company community called the Sony Mom's Tsunagarikai (Working Mothers' Networking group).
Recently a volunteer group for working fathers (Papas' Community) has been formed to create a network of male employees who are raising children or whose partners are pregnant, and allow anyone to consult with others at any time.
The community has set up an information sharing section where participants can swap information on the features needed for a family car, the best cameras for photographing kids, and other information that is useful to know while raising children. There is also a question box to facilitate discussions on maintaining a proper work/life balance and other concerns. Going forward, we hope that discussions within this community will deepen and open up new perspectives, leading to the development of proposals for future policies.
The Sony Group will continue to provide support through a variety of measures so that all employees and their partners can independently engage in childcare in an environment in which they can build their careers as they wish.