In 1995, a YKK employee approached the president of YKK with a suggestion to establish a special subsidiary company. As a father to a child with Down Syndrome, he was worried that his son would have a hard time finding a job and building a career in the future. However, despite the challenges, his son was able to graduate elementary and junior high school in the U.S.A. and then start a career as a caregiver once the family was back in Japan. His son’s resilience and passion for learning was a true testament to the idea that anyone can thrive and succeed when they feel valued and appreciated. This inspired the father to start a conversation at YKK about the importance of creating an inclusive and diverse workplace. As his son continued his professional journey as a caregiver, he realized that when considering employment for people with disabilities, it is important to create a job instead of making them adopt a job that already exists. That’s the inspiration behind YKK Rokko, a company that cultivates inclusion and celebrates purpose.
YKK Rokko, located in Kobe City, Japan was established in 1998 by the YKK Group. The company handles the editing, binding, and printing of product manuals, catalogs, company bulletins, and posters, as well as the planning and operation of company websites, digital preservation (archives), document storage, and packaging production.
Of the 26 employees, 18 have intellectual, physical and mental disabilities. The basic concept of the company’s facility design is to be "fully barrier-free," with special attention paid to functionality, safety, comfort, design, and providing a safe and comfortable workplace where people with disabilities can work with peace of mind.
YKK Rokko employs a variety of methods to make work easier for its employees. For example, the heights of desks are set according to the sitting height of wheelchairs, and the width of the corridors is designed accommodate at least two wheelchairs. Handrails are installed in all corridors. All steps both inside and outside the company have been eliminated. Most of the office uses sliding doors, making it easy for wheelchair users to open them. In addition, areas where there are many people coming and going have automatic doors. Company vehicles are equipped with ramps so that wheelchair users can ride easily. Special lights are used so that anyone can see abnormalities in the printing machines.
YKK Rokko also takes into account the working environment. Outside light is utilized as much as possible in the entrance, hallways and dining rooms in order to have a positive and bright feeling. The company has a biotope with a small stream on the premises. It was built after one employee in a wheelchair said, "I have never been to the river." In order to make that wish come true, all the employees worked together to create the outdoor space. The stream contains fish that employees caught in local rivers. The space is a great place to relax for employees.
YKK Rokko is truly a place that embodies YKK’s 5th Fundamental Behavior, “Embrace diversity.”