Japan Inc lag far behind women empowerment in management roles: Reuters poll

© Reuters.

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Women make up less than 10% of the management in most Japanese companies, as the country’s corporate sector finds it difficult to meet the business lobby’s aim of boosting the number of female executives in an ageing society, a Reuters poll showed.

The survey results underscored Japan’s struggle to raise the share of women in leadership roles to 30% as part of the biggest business lobby Keidanren’s campaign to empower women, dubbed “womenomics”.

Japan’s global ranking on gender parity stood at 121 of 153 countries in a World Economic Forum report for 2020.

The Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted during June 3-14, found that more than 80% of Japanese companies said women make up less than 10% of management – results similar to the previous surveys conducted last year and in 2018.

According to the survey, 86% of the survey respondents said it was impossible to achieve the target by 2030.

“Until a while ago we hired many men, so it takes time to fix the balance,” a chemicals maker manager wrote.

“We need first to raise the ratio of female managers, but we must also reform the corporate culture,” a transportation firm manager wrote.

There are very few female employees to begin with and setting a numerical target is questionable, companies said in the survey, urging changes to Japan’s male-oriented corporate culture and calling for more support such as childcare.

“It’s impossible unless our society changes in a way that encourages women to be promoted to key posts,” a service firm manager wrote.

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The survey, conducted for Reuters by Research, canvassed 481 large- and mid-size non-financial firms. About 230 firms answered the questions on condition of anonymity.

The survey also found that 36% of Japanese firms expect coronavirus-led impact on supply and demand likely to cease in several months, but 32% saw no signs of improvement from the pandemic fallout. About 18% saw it ceasing now and 9% said they had no impact.

The poll results were similar to a previous survey conducted in March.

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