business

Japanese firms fall woefully short of meeting gov't goals on women in management

35 Comments
By Tetsushi Kajimoto

About one-fifth of Japanese companies have no female managers and most say women account for less than 10% of management, a Reuters monthly poll found, highlighting the struggle for the government's "womenomics" drive to make headway.

The survey results come as Japan is seen to delay its target this year to raise the share of women in leadership posts to 30% as part of the government's campaign to empower women, dubbed "womenomics", and cope with Japan's aging population.

The Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted Sept 29-Oct 8, found 71% of Japanese firms said women accounted for less than 10% of management, while 17% had no female managers at all.

Asked how much scope there was to increase female managers, 55% said by around 10%, a quarter said by about 20%, one in 10 firms said by around 30%, while 5% saw no room for that.

"Regardless of sex, we should hire talented people and promote them on their merits, rather than putting priority on the proportion," a chemicals maker manager wrote in the survey.

A paper and pulp maker manager wrote: "We hire more female new graduates than male, but many female hires tend to leave the company after a while, making it hard to raise female managers."

The survey, conducted for Reuters by Nikkei Research, canvassed 485 large and midsize non-financial firms. About 240 firms answered the questions on condition of anonymity.

The results were similar to the previous poll taken in 2018.

Japan's global ranking on gender parity fell to 121st out of 153 countries in a World Economic Forum report for 2020.

New premier Yoshihide Suga's 21-member cabinet has just two female ministers, and women account for just short of 10% of all lawmakers in parliament's powerful lower house.

While aiming to follow his predecessor Shinzo Abe's policies including the coronavirus pandemic response, Suga has pledged to allow insurance coverage for expensive fertility treatments.

On the pandemic impact on employment and wages, 47% of Japan firms suffered it, causing many to curb new hiring, slash wages and reduce staff, the survey showed.

One third of firms expect employment to remain short of pre-pandemic levels at the year end, while a slim majority, 52% of firms, saw capital expenditure would undershoot their initial plans, dampening prospects for sustained economic recovery.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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They need to hire more women for these positions.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Just more of the "Abe" legacy!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

It should not be the government’s business to set a goal for hiring female managers in the private sector. Private companies are different from governments in that they can go bust if they perform badly.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

we should hire talented people and promote them on their merits, rather than putting priority on the proportion,

I fully agree with this statement. However, they don't even abide by this mantra.

Furthermore, they are failing to mention how the Government itself has failed at doing the same when they said they wanted to involve women more in politics.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

"...highlighting the struggle for the government's "womenomics"

Why is it a "struggle" for the govt? It should be a "struggle" for private-sector employers who are failing the grade, not to mention the women who join companies on a career track and then leave after a short time.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Abe's womenomics legacy is alive and well.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The place of a woman in Japanese society is at home taking care of children, cleaning, making meals for husband and family.

This data clearly show that even women don't want to change the status quo. They prefer to be shufu instead of sweating at work for 12 h a day.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Instead of just asking companies how many female managers they have, I recommend asking a further question, "How many hours a week do your managers typically work?"

In many cases, I think the hours worked and expectations placed on managers will be incompatible with family life. This does not even have to be the company's fault. Managers may have to stay behind due to others doing empty overtime, either for a pay boost or because they do not want to go back to an unhappy home.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

but many female hires tend to leave the company after a while, making it hard to raise female managers.

So why are they leaving your company, hmmm.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I knew of one woman at a Japanese drug company, who was promoted unexplainably to a department head position, to the surprise of the staff, accompanied by a lot of trumpeting about it. Within 6 months people were complaining how incompetent she was, but the majority of the complaints were from other women!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

the government's campaign to empower women, dubbed "womenomics", 

the J gov just LOVES to put catchy names to policies that are either completely USELESS (Abenomics) or practically NON EXISTENT (womenomics)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Suga models worst practice: 2 females in a cabinet of 20.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

You aren't getting in any women into power until you get the old men out. Straight up.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Quotas for Work Positions will not work. The most suitable position may be a Qualified Experienced Women.

Unfortunately what much of the Mainly Western media who love telling the Japanese how to tie their Shoe laces neglect, is that many or most Women want to have Children. Having Children is THE most important job in the World for men and women but Motherhood is No1 .

Most Females want to be Mothers and looking after their Children and it s extremely Important. Being called an Office executive or CEO of something is minuscule compared to Child Rearing. And its a Beautiful thing. Every one of you is the Product of that. What Abe did or didnt do who Cares.

Labels and Quotas are all about Divide and Conquer.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The question should be do women actually want to take responsibility? Work until 11PM and on weekends? What is the percentage of women who would be OK with that?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I work with some very smart Japanese women at a good company but it seems that many really don't want to manage other Japanese in the traditional corporate structure. There is so much crap work that managing others entails. On the other hand, our US subsidiary is about 80% female leadership, however the pay is better and there is a lot of flexibility without teeth sucking.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A paper and pulp maker manager wrote: "We hire more female new graduates than male, but many female hires tend to leave the company after a while, making it hard to raise female managers

For many Japanese women on maternity leave, comeback to re-develop career is a big challenge. "Reluctant" working women are also responsible for the country's declining birthrate. My mom left work to raise her child (me); when re-hired into another organization as a mid-career recruit, she yet had to start anew, totally equal to other young graduates in terms of salary base and other benefits. I guess that things have since been different, more improved in women's favor, though...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

oldman_13

They need to hire more women for these positions.

Easier said than done. Go for performance, not just for diversity. If you can find one who can fill both quotas, then it's a win-win situation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I always get alarmed when this topic comes up in Japan. I don't want to see it be a sespool of wokeness like the US. Having more women and diversity in the work place is fine but we need to make sure we are pursuing equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This is all very well. But it would only work if that many women actually wanted management positions instead of working for a few years before they leave to have a baby, or want to be a part of a general workplace culture that is less than conducive to a healthy work-life balance.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I for one am not shocked...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The answer is the same as to why there are more men in the fishing and logging industries.

Work or play, men and women want different things in life with only a minimal overlap in the Venn diagram.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Men are in those jobs due to both physical necessity and entrenched cultural practices that in Japan date back eons. Women were not allowed to board ships, or venture into forests, for fear of upsetting the dieties associated with each place.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

These articles never seem to show the percentage of women are at these companies so we can get a better idea of what is really happening.

That said as many above point out & i have said for decades J-women typically DO NOT want to climb the corporate ladder, who could blame them the vast majority of men here HATE their jobs & lives, so WHY on earth would anyone think women here would JUMP at the chance to join in on this kind of MISERY!!!

In the west yes its true many women are doing very well in white collar end of things, they tend to avoid anything else for the most part. And while doing well there are also many repercussions going on in the west, many of these women enjoy being single into their 30s to find out less men are interested in them for marriage, those that do get hitched, divorce at VERY high rates, also something 70% of western women are living un-happy lives & on anti-depressants etc

So I would say be careful what you wish for you just might GET IT!! In the west family lives have been taken massive hits the past 30yrs & looks set to continue in the same direction.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

shocker, have you seen the representatives in government?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

expatToday  12:43 pm JST

Men are in those jobs due to both physical necessity and entrenched cultural practices that in Japan date back eons. Women were not allowed to board ships, or venture into forests, for fear of upsetting the dieties associated with each place.

But the vast majority of people doing those jobs in other countries are men, too. Nothing to do with deities or entrenched cultural practices, just preferences and physical necessity.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As the elderly are 80% likely to succumb to the dreaded virus, and 80% of bosses are old Abe-style men, there is a flicker of light on the horizon.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Goodlucktoyou

HEAR HEAR!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My wife (Japanese) is a manager at at company (not Japanese). We are both career-orientated, so we balance our schedules to be able to take care of the kids; it is not easy, but it is doable, and we spend a good part of salary on getting help with that.

By the way, during the last year or so, she told me they fired three women managers: one for utter incompetence, and two for repeated and fierce power harassment, especially towards their women staff. Now their HR is reevaluating priorities in hiring and promotion...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This is not difficult to believe when you consider that, 60% of workers are on short-term or part time contracts (mostly women). Contracts that the high court of Japan has just passed a bill to pay these workers even less than the pittance they were earning.

Japanese companies are full of driftwood male executives and managers who are afraid of putting women into management for fear of being shown up by them. Women are better educated and work a lot harder than than the parasitic fogies already in management. This is why they won’t promote and put women into management positions. They conveniently use the ‘she might have a baby’ excuse, which utter nonsense when applied to women over 40.

Powerful women do an awesome job in Japan. Ms Koike is one example. Just think of that criminal she replaced, Ishihara. Empower Japanese women in the workforce and Japan will prosper.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@GW

"These articles never seem to show the percentage of women are at these companies so we can get a better idea of what is really happening."

Exactly. It is like saying "50% of the cats in X town have died due to cold weather", when in reality there were only 2 cats.

I guess they do not bother to do any real investigation.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You have GOT to be kidding me! in JAPAN?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm no cheerleader for Abe, and but I strongly support the forced promotion of women in the Japanese workforce.

Why? Because the situation now is just so incredibly bad.

Where I work, woman have almost zero authority. I know the results of quotas will be less than ideal, but the alternative is more old Japanese men in positions of power. And this is bad for Japan.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

My daughters in university have little interest in joining a Japanese firm and working slave-like hours for several decades in the hopes of making management-level. Fix the work-life balance in Japan, and many things might improve, including the number of women in the workforce and in management positions; the birthrate; the suicide rate [improve it by reducing it]; and possibly even the marriage rate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Get rid of the bullying the old cronies, and let the young new fresh ideas move the country. Give women more incentive to work instead of thinking of them being around to just have babies. As you can see women are not producing they have stopped so its time for a change. In with the new and out with the

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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