Contribute to Japan’s Diversity & Gender Equality Playbook at ‘Deepen the Dialogue’

Event Is Set for Nov. 14, and You’re Invited.

Even if you haven’t joined a previous Deepen the Dialogue night, the initiative backed by volunteers all over Tokyo is looking for your input.

Tired of the actionless discussions that play into the docile version of “feminism” in Japan? #MeToo

Enter Deepen the Dialogue (DTD), a refreshing take on gender equality in Japan focusing on leveling the playing field in the workplace. The quarterly event continues to include real diversity: Japanese and foreigners, corporate executives and new hires, and men and women.

Attendees at one of the Deepen the Dialogue events, including the new leader of the initiative Legion Richardson.

A playbook for success

Deepen the Dialogue’s upcoming fourth event — a night of round-table discussion and empowering speakers — will be held next Wednesday evening in Shinjuku at McDonald’s Japan. The last event was in June, where nearly 100 attendees worked together to brainstorm ideas for a diversity and gender equality “playbook” that will eventually become a downloadable resource for anyone working in Japan.

DTD4’s guest speaker will be Sarah Casanova, CEO and President of McDonald’s Japan, who will speak on some of the success she has experienced here in Japan.

The event, which is free and open to all, is currently centered around small-group discussions that help complete a workable “playbook” for any size company or worker from new hire, to mid-level management to CEO. Organizers consider the playbook their first milestone, which can act as a model for individuals and companies in Japan to address and improve workplace conditions.

In gathering Deepen the Dialogue attendee’s ideas and successes to create said model, the hope is that the playbook will eventually become a comprehensive guide to success. In the past, small groups discussed how to implement on-site childcare and remote work policies. But that’s just the beginning.

New leadership

Legion Richardson, Head of HR for McDonald’s Japan, is leading Deepen the Dialogue.

To get to this milestone, the DTD initiative is now under new leadership. It is still backed by a tight-knit group of volunteers working in the capital, although, one of the main organizers from IBM Japan, Zane Zumbahlen, formerly the Vice President of HR, has since moved to the U.S. Taking over the volunteer leadership role is Legion Richardson, Head of HR at McDonald’s Japan, who has lived here for three years and has been with McDonald’s for 18.

“When it all started, it was more like an experiment to see where this takes us,” Richardson said of DTD, adding he is impressed by the passion and dedication of those involved.

Richardson, who is the father of a young daughter, is eager to fill Zumbahlen’s shoes and is looking to build up the initiative’s volunteer base, eventually build a website, and release the playbook online. He said that although the initiative involves key players from corporate companies in Japan, DTD is “not a corporate agenda but a movement by a group of committed individuals trying to change the world.”

deepen the dialogue

At Deepen the Dialogue held at IBM Japan in Tokyo.

In fact, the event even goes as far as to include those who haven’t yet reached the working world. Anna Komisarof, a student at the American School in Japan, attended the previous events because she was curious to see what people beyond her inner circle had to say about gender issues in Japan.

“It was really comforting to know that so many influential people were actively working towards combating such a prominent, pressing issue,” Komisarof told Savvy Tokyo in an email.

While the event is not yet bilingual, and mostly run in English, all language levels are encouraged to join.

The Deets

What: Deepen the Dialogue 4 — a night of discussion and action
When: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m. for networking)
Where: McDonalds Corporation (Hamburger University) Shinjuku I-land Tower 38F 6-5-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo
Who: Everyone (high school students also welcome to join)
Cost: Free
Food/drink: Free drinks will be provided. It is recommended to bring your own food to have at the venue.

How to Register: To register for the event, please visit the Peatix link down below to enroll: If you have any questions, email

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