executive impact

Smashing glass ceilings

46 Comments
By Lucy Alexander for BCCJ ACUMEN

Haruno Yoshida, president of BT Japan Corporation, does not come across as the sort of person to be easily intimidated.

Yet, when she was approached in February by the Keidanren, the highly conservative and all-male Japan Business Federation, to become its first female executive, she admits to being “frightened”.

What gave Yoshida confidence was the reaction of other women. “They all said, ‘Go for it! We will be behind you’”, she said. Yoshida will assume her role as vice chairman of the board of councillors — advisors to the chairman, Sakayuki Sakakibara — in June.

It is not the first glass ceiling Yoshida has smashed. She was appointed the first female president of BT Japan in 2012.

“In the UK, Haruno could be a male or female name”, she said, “so I assumed when they finally realised I wasn’t wearing a tie, it would be over. Because being a woman in Japan is a big, big disadvantage. It’s like being chained by the leg.

“So, when I was offered the job, I said, ‘I’m female, and this is Japan — are you serious?’”

BT was serious, and Yoshida has flourished in the role: “I’ve learned a lot from working for a British company. Women [at BT] work in such a natural way—they can just get on with doing their job”.

In Japan, she says, such a relaxed approach to female leadership is a long way off.

Yoshida, 50, is a standard-bearer not just for Japanese female leaders, but also for working mothers.

After a degree from Keio University and a job at Motorola Mobility LLC, she married a Canadian, moved to Vancouver and had a daughter. Five years later, in 1999, she was a single mother working for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation in New York.

“I remember every morning when I started putting on my make-up, my daughter would cry. She suffered because other people’s families were not like us, but if all kids get used to the idea that mothers work then it becomes natural. I want my daughter to be able to work and be praised instead of blamed”, she said.

Part of the reason Yoshida is passionate about telecommuni­cations is its ability to enable remote working, which benefits workers with care-giving responsibilities.

This is one of two key messages she intends to push at the Keidanren: “What you deliver is everything—you don’t have to be in the office, you can probably work better from home”.

The other is to promote “transparent evaluation schemes for measuring employee performance, connected to pay and bonus. If there is any mission at all for me”, she said, “it’s to show Japanese companies how to start”.

Yoshida is optimistic that Japan is at a social and economic turning point.

“We don’t have many natural resources, our society is ageing, our workforce is reducing, we are not utilising women and we don’t speak English—and yet we are still the world’s third-largest economy”, she said.

“What if this giant woke up and carried out all these reforms that the other G7 countries have already put in place? Japan would be massive!”

The key is to tap into female economic power, she says, citing the research report by Goldman Sachs analyst Kathy Matsui titled "Womenomics 4.0: Time to Walk The Talk," which indicates that closing the gender employment gap could raise the country’s GDP by up to 13%.

“Japan talks about globalisation and transformation, but none of this will be possible without womenomics”, Yoshida said. “It’s our most important key performance indicator. Countries should measure how serious Japan is by its progress on womenomics”.

Yoshida hopes that her daughter’s generation will not, as she did, have to leave Japan in order to get promoted. “We in our 50s and 60s will lay a path for you”, she said.

“It may not be perfectly straight, but please continue on it. I see it as a chain of opportunity being passed from one generation of women to another. Japan is going to change, so stay tuned”.

My typical day: Haruno Yoshida

4:30am: Wake up, check emails 5am: Morning coffee and NHK news, get ready and leave house 7:30am: Arrive at office; check emails, read papers, go through document inbox, confirm schedule and write a to-do list; or breakfast seminar 9:30–11am: Internal team meetings Noon–1:30pm: Lunch with a customer 2–3:30pm: External business meetings or visits to customers 4–5pm: Global leaders’ meetings 5–6pm: Respond to emails, deal with requests, prepare documents or numbers 6–8pm: Receptions or customer dinners 9–10.30pm: Go home; relax, watch TV, private emails (especially with my daughter)

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


46 Comments
Login to comment

Imagine waking up at 4.30 to check emails.

No money is worth that.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

The simple fact is that many Japanese women, if not most, do not want to live her sort of work regime.

Sure they want the financial and material perks, but this has been a problem for women the world over: the balance and connect been a quality lifestyle and a satisfying work environment.

It often or not can't be done for women because to succeed in what essentially is a man's world, they have to work twice as hard as a man and the result is this.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

“I’ve learned a lot from working for a British company. Women [at BT] work in such a natural way—they can just get on with doing their job”.

In Japan, she says, such a relaxed approach to female leadership is a long way off.

“We don’t have many natural resources, our society is ageing, our workforce is reducing, we are not utilising women and we don’t speak English—and yet we are still the world’s third-largest economy”, she said.

“What if this giant woke up and carried out all these reforms that the other G7 countries have already put in place? Japan would be massive!”

The key is to tap into female economic power, she says,

Wow -- talk about someone who has laser focus. Good on her, and let's hope she can actually have some impact in her new position.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

If her idea of 'utilising women' is to have us all working 12-hour days and never seeing our kids...she can keep it. She may have a huge income and a flash katagaki on her business card, but her life sounds horrible.

We need men to be able to live more like women, not women forced to live like men.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

"utilising women" - is she a pimp ? Japan is the last place on earth where a woman can choose to stay at home and raise a family. Vultures like this person want the family unit destroyed so that young women can aspire to be just like her. The narcissism in this interview is repugnant

1 ( +6 / -5 )

but her life sounds horrible.

We need men to be able to live more like women, not women forced to live like men.

Vultures like this person want the family unit destroyed so that young women can aspire to be just like her. The narcissism in this interview is repugnant

Coming from two people who have never had a substantive conversation with a modern, working mother, so have no earthly idea what her life is like. And, since they both have a vested interest in maitaining the status quo, want to say things like "her life sounds horrible", and "narcissism". But, guess what, just in today's business sections here in the U.S. it was reported that the average female CEO earned more than her male counterpart. In fact, the woman who runs Yahoo, made over $40 million just last year. And, while money is certainly not everything, that kind of generational wealth is not to be sneared at either. The knowledge that her hard work will have that kind of impact on many generations of her family, must be very rewarding to her. Simply because you not share that value set, is no reason to be childish.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Jeez. i think i work hard and travel alot but her typical day looks like hell. sounds like a great family life - bet hubby is thrilled to bits.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japan is the last place on earth where a woman can choose to stay at home and raise a family.

Um. If Japan is such a splendid place to choose to stay at home and raise kids, then why is the birthrate so low?

1 ( +7 / -6 )

the birthrate is low because the cost of raising more than one child is prohibitive on an average single income, like it is in most of the west. This means mum (or Dad) needs to return to work asap, which is not a choice. I am advocating less employment = higher incomes. Why should both parents work for $50k each when one can earn $100k, but potentially more. This interview is pie in the sky - we can all become high flying executives if we are clever, just follow my play book. Do some research on this subject, it is big business that wants men and women at university and then compete with each other for fewer jobs. isn't that obvious?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I just appreciate one thing about her. What's that? Her 'love for Japan' i.e. she watches NHK news in the wee hours of the morning (!)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

two people who have never had a substantive conversation with a modern, working mother, so have no earthly idea what her life is like

Can't speak for Criticalthinker, but as a modern working mother meself and the mother of an even more modern working mother, I think I have a pretty good idea of what it's like - though I readily admit that, being able to work from home and more or less choose my own hours, I have had it a lot easier than most working mums.

As for this lady's typical working day, it's up there in the article, with times and everything. And I repeat, it sounds horrible. No time for hobbies, little time for family (daughter shares her 30 minutes with TV and emails...), no mention of a significant other, no time to smell the roses, no time to walk the dog. No dog.

they both have a vested interest in maitaining the status quo

Sorry, I don't understand. Would you like to explain? What vested interest would that be?

Simply because you not share that value set, is no reason to be childish.

Saying her life, set out there in black and white for all to see, sounds horrible is not being childish. It's being honest.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Well said Cleo, clearly jerseyboy admires this woman. Id respect her if she had some humility and would refrain from using her daughter in a marketing pitch. The crux being having a work/life balance that benefits every member of the family.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No time for hobbies, little time for family (daughter shares her 30 minutes with TV and emails...), no mention of a significant other, no time to smell the roses, no time to walk the dog. No dog.

I think you've hit the nail on the head Cleo. In other words, she has no time to do the things that lead to growth as a human being. No time to create art, play music, read about history or science, cook, play games etc etc... I just hope she doesn't look back at her life with regrets and feel like she has wasted it. She probably doesn't realise it but, in many ways her life is seems just as one dimensional as someone who just sits on the sofa watching Korean TV dramas from 7:00am to 11:00pm.

That said, if she is actually exaggerating how long and hard she works, she wouldn't be the first Japanese person in history to do so.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

4:30am: Wake up, check emails 5am: Morning coffee and NHK news, get ready and leave house 7:30am: Arrive at office; check emails, read papers, go through document inbox, confirm schedule and write a to-do list; or breakfast seminar 9:30–11am: Internal team meetings Noon–1:30pm: Lunch with a customer 2–3:30pm: External business meetings or visits to customers 4–5pm: Global leaders’ meetings 5–6pm: Respond to emails, deal with requests, prepare documents or numbers 6–8pm: Receptions or customer dinners 9–10.30pm: Go home; relax, watch TV, private emails

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"4:30am: Wake up, check emails 5am: Morning coffee and NHK news... 9–10.30pm: Go home; relax, watch TV, private emails"

Good grief! This woman doesn't say exactly when she goes to bed but it's after 10:30pm, so she gets up less than 6 hours later and checks emails before morning coffee! She must be either an android on a level with Lt. Commander Data or Superwoman!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

While I understand the many valid points being made, I think many are missing the point. I don't think she's expecting that all women work the same type of schedule that she does. But it will be hugely beneficial if she can help create an environment where Japanese women have more opportunity to work than they current have.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

a role model for younger Japanese women

I'd say she's a role model for what not to aim for, whether you're a man or a woman. All work, no play, very little sleep by the sounds of things, and no family life. No thanks.

money is certainly not everything...

It certainly is not, especially when it keeps you away from your kids and family, takes up all your time and leaves you with a work-life balance that has no balance at all. She may be able to leave her daughter lots of money, but how many memories of good times with her Mum will the girl have?

I remember every morning when I started putting on my make-up, my daughter would cry. She suffered because other people's families were not like us

She cried because her Mum was leaving her. Again. She suffered because her Mum left her every day to pour all her energy and ambition into her career. She cried because she saw her friends spending time with their parents, while she had to wait until late at night to share her Mum with the telly and emails. 'Other people's families' were not the problem.

What kind of moral education can you impart to a child if you spend next to no time with it, and what time you do have is shared with the TV and emails and you're chronically sleep-deprived? When do you fit in time to bake biscuits together, make sandcastles on the beach, plant seeds and watch them grow, learn how to ride a bike, how to care for a goldfish, talk about dreams and the future?

She was a single Mum and had to work to support herself and her daughter, I get that. I'm certainly not trying to put down all the women who do the best they can in difficult circumstances to raise a family single-handed. But enough money is enough; some things are much, much more important than money, and time is one of them.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

only 6 hrs sleep, geez id be a wreck at the end of the week.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'd say she's a role model for what not to aim for, whether you're a man or a woman. All work, no play, very little sleep by the sounds of things, and no family life. No thanks.

Yup, much better she become a slave to a cold-hearted salaryman husband, who works ungodly hours, so they never see each other anyway, and spends her time fretting over such important things as how to make a prettier bento box, and/or meeting her friends at Starbucks, all the time raising their 1.3 kids basically as a single mom, because her husband is never around. And, if she is really lucky, she might get lucky and go once for a vaction to someplace like Hawaii. Otherwise, she is just like the thousands of folks looking for clams on the beach in Yokahama during her "vacation". Pretty much sounds idealic to me.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

much better she become a slave to a cold-hearted salaryman husband, who works ungodly hours

When I suggested that neither men nor women should need to work ungodly hours, you said that was 'silly'.

spends her time fretting over such important things as how to make a prettier bento box, and/or meeting her friends at Starbucks

Ah yes, because the only alternative to being a corporate executive working 12 hours a day, checking emails at 4:30 am, rushing from meeting to meeting and getting no sleep, is to be an airhead who spends her days fretting over bento boxes and drinking coffee with other airheads. If only, if only, there could be a middle path. But I imagine that would be silly, wouldn't it? As silly as striving for a sensible and doable work-life balance.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What kind of moral education can you impart to a child if you spend next to no time with it, and what time you do have is shared with the TV and emails and you're chronically sleep-deprived?

And what kind of a "moral education" is it to push young girls to strive to work hard and get a great education fully knowing they will never be able to fulfill their potential because you and Japanese society have concluded that any woman who works as hard as a man to succeed, is "immoral"? Or that the best she can hope for is a "middle path"? And, yes, in my opinion, that is "silly" -- to implictly tell one-half the population, and probably 60% of the intelligent/creative thinking, that is the best they can hope to achieve. Sorry, but I do not think telling your children they can expect to do no better than yourself makes you a great role model.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

what kind of a "moral education" is it to push young girls to strive to work hard and get a great education fully knowing they will never be able to fulfill their potential...

You think 'fulfil their potential' means either be a company executive, or be a failure? How sad. There is so much more to life than work, and a great education is never wasted. It stands a person in much better stead than generations wealth, which is gone once it's been spent.

to implictly tell one-half the population,

You're not paying attention. I'm talking about men and women. We need men to be able to live more like women, not women forced to live like men.

I do not think telling your children they can expect to do no better than yourself makes you a great role model

Neither do I. My kids are already well on the way to doing much better financially than either of their parents. In addition to earning plenty of money (though not 'generational' amounts), they are well-rounded individuals who enjoy family life, recreation, creativity, friends - and have no memories of crying as children because they were being left, or of me blaming 'other families' for their tears.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

She has a cool day of idle cat :

4:30am to 9:30 : 5 hours playing with her phone, grooming (make up or licking her fur ) and being idle, at home, in taxi, in office... slow morning 9:30–11am: meeting = siesta

Japanese meetings... I can still hear them snore.

Then she takes 1 hour of break (11 to noon).

Noon–1:30pm: Long lunch in fancy restaurants

2–3:30pm: second siesta or seesighting

Again 30 minutes of break.

4–5pm: re-siesta

5–6pm: Respond to emails, deal with requests, prepare documents or numbers

ONE HOUR of effective work in her daily routine !

6–8pm: Happy hour or party time

And she's home at 9 to watch the dorama ! Very seriously, for a people person, that's a great relaxing day. Plus she is leading big projects for her companies and associations like keidanren. That's hundred times better than a typical housewife part job, sitting 4 hours a day in front of a sad computer typing other people's boring mails and invoices for 700 yen/hour and getting bad mood stupid bosses on her back. Well that's my point of view. I prefer jobs like this woman's (I even did countless days like hers as totally unpaid volunteer) but unfortunately, to pay my bills, I often have to do the most boring tasks on earth... like Cleo's for instance. It's hard to find a chore more empty than technical translating. Kudos to those that can get passionnated about such jobs.

only 6 hrs sleep, geez id be a wreck at the end of the week.

4-5 hours of sleep is OK for some. It's her choice. She's home at 9.

how many memories of good times with her Mum will the girl have?

Same question for all daughters. What is the answer for kids of the countless depressive STAHMs ? That's not the amount of time but its quality that matters.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

My kids are already well on the way to doing much better financially than either of their parents. In addition to earning plenty of money (though not 'generational' amounts), they are well-rounded individuals who enjoy family life, recreation, creativity, friends - and have no memories of crying as children because they were being left, or of me blaming 'other families' for their tears.

Cleo -- awesome, my congrats to you and Mr. Cleo. But suppose just for a minute you had a daughter who found herself in the same predicament this woman did -- a divorced single mom -- and she chose to go down this same road. Would you tell her she is a lousy role model, or that her life is horrible? Respectfully, as Pope Francis says "Who am I to Judge"? And, you seem to be conveniently over-looking the fact that Yoshida-san lived in Vancouver for roughly five years, and therefore was exposed to a different value structure and role models. What is wrong with her deciding that is what is best for her and her daughter?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

suppose just for a minute you had a daughter who found herself in the same predicament this woman did -- a divorced single mom -- and she chose to go down this same road. Would you tell her she is a lousy role model, or that her life is horrible?

If she chose to work 12 hour days that would be her choice, but Mr. cleo and I would do all we could to ensure that she did not have to work those hours. And knowing my daughter, I know she would not choose to work those hours especially if she had a child (actually she has 3) waiting for her at home.

What is wrong with her deciding that is what is best for her and her daughter?

Nothing at all wrong, it's her life, she can and obviously will do what she wants with it, she seems to think she's successful and that other women, her daughter included, will want to emulate her. I'm just saying that it is not the kind of life I and I imagine most people (not only women) would want to lead. It's all work & no play, no culture, no leisure, making Jane a very dull girl leading a very dull life.

And I do take issue with her claim that the reason her chosen working habits caused her daughter to suffer was 'other people's families'. If you make a decision, you should at least own up to the consequences of that decision and not try to palm them off on others.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Well done to her!! I would happily spend her 6 hours off a day with her. and weekends.....

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If she chose to work 12 hour days that would be her choice, but Mr. cleo and I would do all we could to ensure that she did not have to work those hours. And knowing my daughter, I know she would not choose to work those hours especially if she had a child (actually she has 3) waiting for her at home.

Admirable -- but you have no idea if Yoshida-san has that kind of support network. But, yet, you choose to pass judgement on her anyway.

I'm just saying that it is not the kind of life I and I imagine most people (not only women) would want to lead. It's all work & no play, no culture, no leisure, making Jane a very dull girl leading a very dull life.

Again, you are saying that your value system is right, and hers is wrong. Even though you may not have been exposed to them, there are people in the world who get real energy/excitement out of facing this kind of challenge -- extreme Type A's -- despite the trade-offs. Work/success gives them the pleasure others may get from culture and leisure. And, respectfully, that does not make them "dull" at all. Besides, when she is 65, she will have all the money she needs to live a great retirement and do all those "touchy, feely" things you rate so highly, as well as being a doting granmother if she so chooses.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

you have no idea if Yoshida-san has that kind of support network

You asked me to imagine if it was my daughter. My daughter does have all the support we are able to give her.

Again, you are saying that your value system is right

For me, yes, of course it is. duh!! I also said that there is nothing at all wrong with her doing things her way; it's her life, not, thankfully, mine.

when she is 65, she will have all the money she needs to live a great retirement and do all those "touchy, feely" things you rate so highly

Look around at all the sararimen who live to work; they hit retirement age and have no idea what to do with themselves. No hobbies, no interests apart from sitting on a bench in the park wondering how things are going at the office.

as well as being a doting granmother if she so chooses.

I don't think that's her choice, is it? Her daughter's life is (hopefully) her own.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Look around at all the sararimen who live to work; they hit retirement age and have no idea what to do with themselves. No hobbies, no interests apart from sitting on a bench in the park wondering how things are going at the office

Comparing this woman, who has reached one of the highest levels of an international company to a salaryman is simply foolish. Besides, where in the article does it indicate what she does on weekends or holidays? How do you know she does not pursue hobbies or other interests then? I quess the difference between us, if tis was my daughter, I would be extremely proud of the fact that she pulled herself up from her divorce and been successful beyond what 99% of Japanese women attain, and built a future for her and her daughter. She relied on herself, rather than making the mistake, again, of assuming a man would always be there for her. You want to critisize her for not going to the theatre or gardening.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

where in the article does it indicate what she does on weekends or holidays?

Nowhere. It would seem not to be an important enough part of her life to mention.

You want to criticise her

How is saying her lifestyle is not for me, and probably most other people, criticising her? The only thing I am criticising is her attempt to blame other people's families for the suffering she says her daughter faced. The little girl cried because her Mum was leaving her, not because other kids' Mums weren't leaving them. (and, in New York in the 1990s, mothers didn't work?)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

How is saying her lifestyle is not for me, and probably most other people, criticising her?

I think saying her life "sounds horrible". That she must be "dull". And, that she is "not a good role model" qualify as crtisizing her.

The only thing I am criticising is her attempt to blame other people's families for the suffering she says her daughter faced. The little girl cried because her Mum was leaving her, not because other kids' Mums weren't leaving them

Huh? Let's look at what she actually said:

“I remember every morning when I started putting on my make-up, my daughter would cry. She suffered because other people’s families were not like us, but if all kids get used to the idea that mothers work then it becomes natural. I want my daughter to be able to work and be praised instead of blamed”, she said.

She is not blaming anybody. She is simply stating that because of their circumstances, she was ahead of the curve in terms of working moms, especially single moms. But, now, it is more the norm. Where in the world do you get that she is in any way blaming anyone else? Sorry, but you are just clutching at straws to try and find fault with someone simply because you do not understand her value structure, and the trade-offs her choice in a husband forced her to make. What should she have done -- stay in a loveless marriage like so many Japanese women do, and then get a "Narita divorce" right after he retires? Yup, now there's a real "role model" to strive for.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I think saying her life "sounds horrible". That she must be "dull". And, that she is "not a good role model" qualify as crtisizing her.

No, that's criticising her lifestyle. 'I wouldn't want to live like she does' is a criticism of the lifestyle, not a criticism of the person. I have no idea what kind of person she is; I cannot criticise her as a person.

Let's look at what she actually said:

Yes, let's: She suffered because other people's families were not like us, but if all kids get used to the idea that mothers work then it becomes natural.

In other words, other mothers not working is what caused her daughter to suffer.

What should she have done -- stay in a loveless marriage like so many Japanese women do, and then get a "Narita divorce" right after he retires?

You don't understand what a 'Narita divorce' is, do you?

http://www.waywordradio.org/narita_divorce_1/

1 ( +3 / -2 )

After reading the Cleo v Jerseyboy debate, I think the crux of the problem is that Ms. Yoshida doesn't explicitly acknowledge the possibility that there might be alot in life that she is missing out on due to her high flying career. IMO it would be different if she had said 'Yes, there are many trade-offs you have to make if you want my job, but because I'm a type A personality and I enjoy the money and reaching the top, I feel like they are worth it'. But she doesn't say anything close to that in the article, so we are left wondering whether she has carefully weighed all her options before making an informed decision to invest the vast majority of her life into her work, or whether she has just fallen into this lifestyle and doesn't even realise that you can lead an equally fulfilled life in other ways. To put it another way, we don't really know whether to pity her limited outlook on life or to admire her single-minded determination to reach her goal.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This schedule is exactly the type you do NOT want to see from any executive. There's no time set aside for reading up on the latest technologies, broadening their understanding of new trends in HR, finance or any other area of the business or international best practices, and the skill set of "leaders" like this rapidly becomes dated, resulting in the company's top executives recommending courses of action that may have worked 20 years ago, but are hopelessly out of step with modern business practices.

And this isn't a criticism of Mrs. Yoshida, you see many CEOs and executives showing off schedules like this, trying to send the message, "Look how hard I work!!!!!! I'm not overpaid!!!"... instead they're simply showing "I work hard and stupidly, not intelligently".

Executives with these sort of schedules will soon be outdated, stressed out, burnt out, unable to make the correct decisions and generally be liabilities to the company... and they won't be the ones who are fired when their mistakes damage the company, it'll be the far-smarter employees who get a healthy amount of sleep, work smart, keep their skills up to date and lead balanced lives.

I'm not surprised her daughter is crying, she doesn't want to see her mother in an early grave because of her stupid life-style decisions.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Clearly this woman is very good at what she does but she sure doesnt come across well in an interview which leads me to question her other skills too. The image she paints of herself here does her no favors at all. Someone needs to send her a memo and let her know the latest research - which clearly as Frungy pointed out she doesnt have time to read - showing hard-ass bosses are outdated and not good leaders.

I also wish these women wouldnt parade their ONE child around as evidence that they are successful working mothers. A) wheres the success when your daughter is traumatised every day you leave for work? and B) try this lifestyle with 3 kids. Yes, I know Cleos daughter manages, and full kudos to her, but she has a support network and Im guessing a supportive husband too. Even then, I bet she has to work hard.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think the crux of the problem is that Ms. Yoshida doesn't explicitly acknowledge the possibility that there might be alot in life that she is missing out on due to her high flying career.

Clearly this woman is very good at what she does but she sure doesnt come across well in an interview which leads me to question her other skills too. The image she paints of herself here does her no favors at all.

My god, you folks are simply clutching at straws just to find some reason to dislike this woman, simply because she has been successful at what she does, and you cannot relate to the demands that requires. Did you not notice that this article was in the "Executive Impact" section, and is a re-print of a BCCJ article? The intent of the article was not to profile her or her lifestyle. It was to get her opinions on what impact she feels she can have as THE FIRST FEMALE EXECUTIVE of the Keidanren, and what issues she sees with Japanee business. It was not a touchy-feely Lifestyle piece. But, instead of focusing on the fact that it was 2015 before the first female reached this level, or what she had to say about needed improvements to Japanese business, the bleeding-heart Japanophile posters here go off on a tangent based on about 20% of what was reported -- killing the messenger and attacking her for perceived issues, rather than focusing on her insights (See my first post.)

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Glass ceilings!?? She could smash iron bars with that gaze!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

you cannot relate to the demands that requires

Au contraire, we can relate to those demands and decide that it's not worth it. If she's happy with what she does and what it gives her, that's fine; but not many people are going to want to follow in her footsteps if it means following the path she claims to have laid.

It was to get her opinions on what impact she feels she can have

Exactly; and when that impact includes telling other women to follow her example (never mind if your child cries every day, never mind if you work 12 plus hours a day, never mind if you have no time either for yourself or your family), it's obvious she's out of touch with what most people want out of life.

Jerseyboy made the point that this article tells us nothing about what she does at the weekend, and maybe she has hobbies or interests that she pursues then. This article from Eurobiz tells us: she runs a marathon every weekend, and takes her Blackberry with her so that she can email her staff (who presumably don't get Saturday and Sunday off?). And, the article also tells us, 'lost time with her daughter' is one thing she regrets about her life.

http://eurobiz.jp/2013/01/haruno-yoshida/

How does not wanting to work 12 hours a day make one a Japanophile?

NatalieB - Yes my daughter does have a strong support network, and a very supportive husband, She also has a job that allows her to take childcare leave until the youngest's third birthday, and once she goes back to work a schedule that takes her situation into consideration. I don't imagine she'll ever be a high-flying executive type, but she and her family are, in my opinion, far more successful than Ms. Yoshida.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What should she have done -- stay in a loveless marriage like so many Japanese women do, and then get a "Narita divorce" right after he retires?

You don't understand what a 'Narita divorce' is, do you?

Cleo -- as you say "au contrare". It is actually you who has not kept up with changing Japanese society, and her is how Japan Times talks about "Narita Divorce":

Many middle-aged couples are filing for divorce upon arriving back in Japan after traveling overseas to celebrate the husband’s retirement.

The “new Narita divorce” phenomenon is a play on the term “Narita divorces,” which refers to young newlyweds who get divorced soon after they go through Narita airport on the way back from their honeymoon.

“It is dangerous for couples to suddenly go on overseas trips after the husbands retire,” said novelist Sayoko Nishida, who has written the book “Teinen-Ryoryu” (“Drifting after Retirement”), about wives who suffer stress after their husbands stop working.

No need to apologize. Now let's talk about your most recent comments:

Au contraire, we can relate to those demands and decide that it's not worth it. If she's happy with what she does and what it gives her, that's fine; but not many people are going to want to follow in her footsteps if it means following the path she claims to have laid.

No, you cannot relate. By your own admission you never had to face the reality of being a single mom, and having the desire and drive to want to succeed in a major multinatinal company, but knowing full well you'll not only have to be smarter, but also work much harder to get ahead of your Japanese male counterparts. When I was in Japan I was friends with a number of successful women executives. One of them, who is now head of a division of a major multi-national financial-related firm there, told me how her U.S. headquarters decided to have her go to the U.S. for two years to get her MBA, at company expense. And, lo and behold, when she returned to the Japanese affiliate after the two years, she was given a LOWER position by the managemnet, because all her male peers were resentful of her, and that they had supposedly had to work harder in her absence. She eventually had to take a position overseas to get ahead, due to the negative atmosphere.

Why aren't you attacking the backwards, jacka** men of Japan, who make women be Super Woman just to get ahead, rather than someone who beat them at their own game?

Next:

This article from Eurobiz tells us: she runs a marathon every weekend, and takes her Blackberry with her so that she can email her staff (who presumably don't get Saturday and Sunday off?).

So, she does have a hobby. Thanks for admitting that. And, as you may be aware, exercise, like running, tends to free one's mind. So, she may very likely have good ideas about her business while she is running, which she wants to send to her staff, rather than forget them. How do you possibly infer that her staff "presumably don't get Saturday and Sunday off"? And, if they did not have Saturdays off, how would that make them different than what many male buchos require of their subordinates?

Finally:

And, the article also tells us, 'lost time with her daughter' is one thing she regrets about her life.

And so she is not this soulless creature you and others have made her out to be, but does regret the price she had to pay, and her daughter had to pay, for making the choices she did. But, respectfully, please do not kid yourself into believing that any male CEO of a company BT's size in Japan did not make the exact same trade-offs. Worse still the average salaryman, who cannot point to 1% of the accomplishments of Yoshida-san, is in the exact same boat.

Please stop making her out to be a monster. She is a product of Japan Inc., and that is why I called you and the others who want to critisize her, but ignore the obvious hypocracy there, "Japanophiles". Because, as I said, you want to kill the messenger, rather than accept what she says.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

jerseyboy-

"new Narita divorce" phenomenon is a play on the term "Narita divorces,"

You didn't say 'new Narita divorce', though, did you? A different phenomenon.

you never had to face the reality of being a single mom, and having the desire and drive to want to succeed in a major multinational company

Those are two different problems, aren't they? Lots of single mums get by without feeling the need to scramble to the top of the executive ladder. And as we've already discussed, having a swish job title and lots o'cash isn't the only way, or necessarily the best way, to measure success.

Why aren't you attacking the backwards, jacka** men of Japan, who make women be Super Woman

I'm not attacking anybody.

How do you possibly infer that her staff "presumably don't get Saturday and Sunday off"?

Because she's emailing her brilliant ideas to them on Saturdays and Sundays? If her staff had the weekends off it would make no difference if she just left it till Monday morning.

how would that make them different than what many male buchos require of their subordinates?

please do not kid yourself into believing that any male CEO of a company BT's size in Japan did not make the exact same trade-offs. Worse still the average salaryman, who cannot point to 1% of the accomplishments of Yoshida-san, is in the exact same boat

As I've said before, demanding women work more like men isn't the way forward. True gender equality would have men working and living more like women, not women slaving and sacrificing more like men.

she is not this soulless creature you and others have made her out to be

Please stop making her out to be a monster

I have not made her out to be anything, you're going right past silly to simply ridiculous (though if that is the impression you have been labouring under from the start, it is no wonder you're trying to 'defend' her...I don't think she needs your defence). Saying that her life sounds horrible is a comment on the 'typical day' posted at the end of the article, not a criticism of the woman herself. She did, presumably, what she felt she had to do. But I doubt many people (again, men as well as women) would be willing to pay the price she has paid to get what she has got.

you want to kill the messenger

The message seems to be that a woman has to give up family life and act like the "backwards, jacka** men of Japan" if she wants to reach the upper echelons. That is not anything to crow about, and is not an inspiration to working women.

Now, a man who took a block of years off work while his kids were infants and after going back to work insisted on being home in time to help them with their school homework and read them a bedtime story as well as taking random days off when one of them had a fever, and then went on to reach a top executive post - that would be something for the promoters of gender equality to crow about.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Although Ms Yoshida sounds like an email slave, she does happen to be local CEO of a multinational. Six hours' sleep is more or less par for the course.

Though hardly modelling the ideal work/life balance, she's showing Japan that what's between your legs doesn't and shouldn't dictate your lot in life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo -- without question, your weakest response yet. You have basically backed off every single position you originally took, and simply gotten into semantics -- "You didn't say 'New Narita Divorce', though did you?" LOL. But, what really comes out is that you admit that to reach the level of success she has required a super-human effort on her part to overcome the numerous obstacles male-dominated Japan placed in her way. But, the "solution" to that you propose is more "gender equality" which you know full well will not happen for generations in Japan. So, I have one simple, final question for you -- What was she supposed to do, wait around until Japan magically changed, or do what she did to provide for herself and her daughter and fully untilize the business skills/acumen she was given?

The message seems to be that a woman has to give up family life and act like the "backwards, jacka** men of Japan" if she wants to reach the upper echelons. That is not anything to crow about, and is not an inspiration to working women.

Because, you are admitting there is a problem but seem to want to chastize her for overcoming it, rather than the hopelessly backwards and fearful men of Japan. The thing that is "not anything to crow about" is that.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

You have basically backed off every single position you originally took

No, I'm simply trying to show you that you are arguing at cross-purposes; you made the false assumption that I am criticising this woman on a personal level. I am not.

you admit that to reach the level of success she has required a super-human effort on her part to overcome the numerous obstacles male-dominated Japan placed in her way

That has never been at issue. My point is that I would not consider that kind of 'super-human effort' to be worth it. Obviously, she did.

the "solution" to that you propose is more "gender equality" which you know full well will not happen for generations in Japan.

And do you imagine that the next generation of Japanese women are going to be rushing to make those kinds of sacrifices to be able to sit in the executive chairs? You know full well that will not happen.

you are admitting there is a problem

Did I ever say there was no problem? Of course there are problems. Lots of problems.

but seem to want to chastize her for overcoming it

How many times, in how many ways, do I need to say it? I am not chastising her. All I'm staying is that most people, me included, would not envy her her lifestyle. She's welcome to it, I much prefer my own work-life balance. She made her choice, I made mine. I see no problem there.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

the "solution" to that you propose is more "gender equality" which you know full well will not happen for generations in Japan.

And do you imagine that the next generation of Japanese women are going to be rushing to make those kinds of sacrifices to be able to sit in the executive chairs? You know full well that will not happen

Finally, we agree. You are, unfortunately correct, there will not be lots of Japanese women in the next generation rushing to make those kinds of sacrifices. Which is to the long-term detrement of Japan, and is the whole point. In 2015, in the world's third-largest economy, with a shrinking and aging population, young women should NOT have to look to someone like Yoshida-san for a role model. There should be lots and lots of successful women in Japanese business who have been able to balance work and home -- like Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, or Mary Barra of GM, to name just two. So, the one thing we both agree on is that "will not happen" for many, many years -- generations actually -- in Japan.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Work is life to some extent and it's a part of it. For some people, it's not a fun part of it, but for others like this executive, it's a passion. Either way, it a part of our lives, good or bad. The key is o remember that you should be looking for balance between the things we love-not just work and the rest of life, but work and family and hobbies and chores and everything else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Her schedule is not so bad, she gets more breaks at her job than a visit to a chiropractor

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites