Q&A: Yumi Matsuzaki on how Organizations can Integrate D&I Into Their Entire DNA

Yumi is Managing Director at Accenture Song Japan. This week she spoke on expanding D&I across an organization during a Cannes Lions panel discussion.

Fresh off of her Cannes Lions 2023 panel discussion ‘When D&I Informs All Decisions, Not Just the Marketing Ones’ we caught up with Yumi Matsuzaki, Managing Director at Accenture Song Japan.

The industry veteran, who started her career as a designer, talks about her recent Cannes Lions’ discussion with Shiseido’s Angelica Munson and Yasuhiko Sasama on D&I, the agency’s work with Shiseido to reimagine what the beauty business can mean for customers, the organization and the industry, how her early days in design inform her current position as MD, and more.

Early in your career, your focus was on art and design. Tell us about your transition into planning, then senior management, and how your creative background informs your approach to leadership.

I started my career in graphic design and expanded my skills through communication planning, project management and business consulting roles across digital agencies and now at Accenture Song.


 

My transition from a designer to a planner was a natural progression as I started to think about purpose, meaning and direction in the designs created over time. Being a planner necessitates understanding design’s purpose and meaning and how it contributes to a business strategy or goal.

As a designer, simplicity is a principle that we emphasize. It’s not just about minimalistic designs but also a consideration of the consumer value and a deep understanding of their needs. Applying this principle to leadership, my creative background allows me to understand the diversity within an organisation, translate it into user benefit, and then develop ways of working across teams and geographies that allow for meaningful interactions and fruitful collaboration.

You participated in a discussion at Cannes Lions about how organizations can integrate their commitment to D&I into their entire DNA, not just a focus of the marketing department. Can you tell us more about that?

Across industries today, organisations are starting to embed inclusion & diversity (I&D) efforts across their decisions and actions. As a company, Accenture believes that I&D is essential for both accessing talent and unleashing innovation and is a key enabler of business growth.

Our work with Shiseido is meaningful in that regard. Shiseido is a company that strives to realise a better world through the power of beauty. Since its founding and for over 150 years, the company has integrated I&D into its DNA. As definitions of diversity, identity and beauty evolve, digital transformation has become essential for the company to respond quickly to ever-changing customers and markets.


 

Customer data is used to inform the creation of products and enable personalised experiences. One of them is Shiseido’s Beauty Key, an application that draws on data for more personalised consumer services and a tailored experience in the Japanese market.

Consumers can access skin analysis services from home, obtain custom beauty advice, and get beauty information tailored for each season via the app. Shiseido employees are also equipped with empathy and insights to enrich their customers’ lives.

This organisation-wide approach embraces the diversity of its customers and employees while ensuring a considered approach in the delivery of enriching experiences has had a tremendous commercial impact on Shiseido’s business – something that is not simply the work of a single function in the organisation and certainly not just a marketing or PR trend.

“As consumers’ needs and sentiments continue to evolve, organisations are subjected to greater scrutiny and held to high standards of accountability.”

One topic of the discussion was mistakes, challenges, risks, and benefits for businesses that embrace this approach to D&I. What are your thoughts on these within the context of your approach at Accenture in Japan and the industry overall?

I&D is not a destination but a practice and mindset. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to inclusivity and no absolute benchmark for success where it comes to I&D efforts. Post-pandemic, consumers expect brands to focus on collective good and a culture of care.

As consumers’ needs and sentiments continue to evolve, organisations are subjected to greater scrutiny and held to high standards of accountability. The ability for brands to rise above existing beliefs and assumptions to understand their consumers across their values and lives so that diversity can be embedded into every aspect of the experience is as critical as ensuring diversity in their teams and respecting differences.

“Applying this principle to leadership, my creative background allows me to understand the diversity within an organisation, translate it into user benefit, and then develop ways of working across teams and geographies that allow for meaningful interactions and fruitful collaboration.”

In Japan, embedding I&D into an organisation’s DNA is still relatively new to society and individuals, but we are seeing companies take steps towards creating a trust-based culture instead of a traditionally rule-based culture and creating new work styles to help employees thrive at work.

You shared the stage with Shiseido digital leads, Angelica Munson and Yasuhiko Sasama. In Accenture’s partnership with the company on its digital transformation, what are some highlights of the journey two years in?

Accenture has been working with Shiseido to reimagine what the beauty business can mean for customers and the organisation and, in the process, change what the industry can look like.

My creative background constantly explores the purpose and meaning behind my work, so this journey with Shiseido has been truly fulfilling as we tap into the power of beauty to inspire and empower at scale – from helping to improve their consumer engagement models using data and beauty tech to creating new services such as Beauty Key.

We’ve been very focused on helping Shiseido build personalised customer experiences and creating a competitive new retail experience through technology.

One aspect of the partnership is Shiseido’s goal to transform into a personal beauty and wellness company by 2030, by creating a personalized, healthy, beauty experience for each individual customer. How is Accenture helping them realize this?

Data is at the heart of beauty wellness. We revamped Shiseido’s technology stack, improved its infrastructure, provided training and equipped its staff with capabilities and an agile way of working to enable the organisation to continually innovate and improve its ability to delight customers with personalised beauty experiences such as the Beauty Key application.

Through our strategic collaboration with Shiseido, we are making it easier for beauty customers to obtain what they need daily and make it faster, easier and more convenient for them to learn, buy and keep updated with what’s needed to accomplish their individual beauty and health goals.


Quick Hits:

  • Book everyone in the industry should read: Propos sur le bonheur by Emilie Chartier Alain
  • Favorite show you’re watching lately: The Days
  • One album you would take to a deserted island: Divide by Ed Sheeran
  • Something you want to learn or wish you were better at: Learning the British accent as it’s so attractive!

Picture of Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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