Working life is hard enough already, and there’s no reason to make the job hunt even harder.

A QUALITY ABOUT A PERSON THAT CATCHES MY ATTENTION: Perseverance. WHAT DO I DO WHEN I'M STRESSED: Karaoke. SOMETHING I'M REALLY PROUD OF: My sister who established JobRainbow together with me. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LAUGH: Witty humor.

Kento Hoshi

Opening traditions up to new possibilities

MAKING THE SEARCH WORK FOR YOU. When Kento Hoshi was looking for a job in his home country of Japan, he knew he wanted to work someplace where he didn’t have to hide being gay. But he didn’t know where to look. In desperation, he tried typing in random keywords: LGBT+Mitsubishi; LGBT+Softbank.

Dismayed at the lack of tools for his search, he decided to build his own. Kento built the first version of JobRainbow, which contained reviews about companies that embraced LGBT individuals. One day, he was approached by a company that wanted to put up a job advertisement on the site.

As soon as the listing went up, over a hundred candidates applied for the job through the website. Kento realized there was a need for a service connecting LGBT people in Japan to jobs that would welcome them. JobRainbow pivoted to its current model in 2017 and has over 470,000 users today.

While Japanese society remains largely conservative, there are many progressive companies within it. It’s not only the multinational companies that can accept LGBT people, many smaller Japanese companies do as well, Kento says. Out of over 360 companies that list ads on Job Rainbow, 70 percent are Japanese companies.

Even for progressive companies, JobRainbow provides them the opportunity to learn what other areas of inclusivity need improvement. The rating system reveals areas of weak-nesses that companies can work on. “The fact that these companies are on the site wanting to build a better working environment is a sign that they’re committed to improving themselves in all areas,” Kento says.

CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. Despite many Japanese companies’ innate conservatism, there are more companies ready to change their mindset than expected, Kento says. “I think deep down they are willing to welcome us, but they just need the education,” he says. Japan doesn’t have as much religious influence promoting homophobia, so it’s more about taking the time to move sticks-in-the-mud, he adds.

Gay men were dismissed as effeminate, or thought only to exist on TV, but as the younger generation becomes more aware, they know that there are many LGBT individuals around them in society, Kento says. The Japanese government has passed anti-LGBT discrimination laws, and public impression of LGBT people is improving with greater visibility.

“It definitely takes positive role models to shape the right conversation,” Kento says. Growing up, he had no gay role models beside those he saw on TV, and he did not see himself in those effeminate stereotypes. “That’s why at JobRainbow, we try to feature LGBT role models working in Japan to inspire young people about what their futures could look like,” he says.

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.