Visible and Invisible Corporate Reform Matters Japan’s Diversity Promotion
Homare Ito, Yumeka Nakata, Yoshika Maeshiro, Yui Kubota, Aya Uchiyama, Mamiko Yuasa
July 6, 2017
On June 1, 2017, at the beautifully decorated blue stage of the Hilton Hotel of Shinjuku, Tokyo, the Catalyst Solution Summit 2017 announced the distinctive corporate winners, honoring activities that promote diversity and inclusion in Japan.
Encouraging Japanese Corporations Toward Diversity
The Catalyst is an international organization dealing with promoting women's participation for over 50 years. The event is for promoting further diversity and inclusion by honoring best practices in Japan. Prize winning five companies of the year were: McDonald’s Company Japan, LIXIL Group Corporation, SMBC（Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Seiyu GK, and the Deutsche Bank Group.
Among them, especially LIXIL, one of the biggest providers of doors, windows, toiletries and other home appliances, conducts “multiple ‘action-focused’ programs to engage expecting and working mothers, as well as women and men champions. The programs are helping to create more inclusive work environments through high-potential development and work-life effectiveness components.” (quoted from Catalyst Solutions Summit press release http://www.catalyst.org/catalyst-distinction).
LIXIL created a new division for diversity promotion and started to take actions with male employees to make more inclusive workplace easy for women in 2012. The new approach of inviting male perspectives into women empowerment increased the number of women in the administrative position from 22 to 168.
LIXIL also conducted a "We do action plans" campaign with the numerical targets, a 6-8months length of leadership training program and the Women’s Network. This in-house group of women employees gathered no less than 41 best practices of female contributions.
Masayo Narita of LIXIL Corporation said it was essential for the promotion of diversity that more female should play important roles in the company. He said “it is hard thing to share just the same amount and quality of work between men and women in every sphere. However, if people can share the tasks effectively according to their merits and strength, we can connect the benefits of such work sharing with the company’s profits. I hope other companies to promote the project which women will play an important role as LIXIL.”
It’s a Matter for Female Students, Too
Today, corporations are needed to cope with diversified working style. To do so, everyone has to alter their “unconscious bias” on gender roles. “Women continue to study as high level as college education like men do. Isn’t it ridiculous that women cannot be active once they enter the workforce? How on earth could it happen?” said Narita.
Japanese women should get rid of the misunderstanding that gender gap might be ability gap. It was really surprising fact that not only Japanese government but also Japanese private companies are hardly working on promoting "women's empowerment".
It is still very difficult for men and women to manage both work and households without supports from the company or the government. For college students like us, whether our future career and private lives are brighter will depend on the companies where we start our career.
Visible systemic reform and invisible awareness reforms are just started in Japanese corporations. and that really matters the future of younger students as well.