Sunday, November 29, 2015

Japan Fights Gender Gap at Work

By Eleanor Warnock on November 11th, 2015

According to this November 11th article, Japanese firms are seeking to increase the amount of women in the workforce, specifically in leadership roles to decrease the wide gender gap.  Japan’s practice of lifetime employment is one of the main contributors to this gender gap among top management personnel.  Meaning, current top executives that are in line for retirement began their careers in the 1970s and 1980s, when Japan’s workforce was predominantly male making it impossible to have female executives currently at the same level.  The second reason for the gap, Japan is a traditionally patriarchal society. All major decisions regarding the family and the woman’s role in society is approved by the husband or father.  In the article, Michiru Tomabechi, a Japanese woman being interviewed regarding her recent promotion to division manager, admitted to seeking support from her husband first. The next reason for the gap is an evident lack of female mentors in leadership positions to encourage and coach female direct reports coming up through the ranks.   In trailblazing the path of gender equity in the workforce, women executives can find it a lonely space to inhabit.  I would venture to say that what a Japanese woman’s experiences in the workplace is unique, and may be difficult to express to her male co-workers. More females in top executive and management positions will be needed to fill the role of “safe persons” during the closing of the gap.


Video link on workforce gender gap in Japan

Going forward, Prime Minister Abe wants to begin  incorporating attractive additions to the compensation packages like flexible schedules, reducing or eliminating mandatory overtime, and extended child-care and nursing-care leave policies.  This additions benefit both male and female employees.  In relation to Chapter 17 in our textbook, if a multinational firm was looking to recruit local nationals or third-country nationals from Japan, they would need to take into consideration the compensation package offered to both female and male employees. According to our textbook, Japan’s high UAI score indicates an innate distrust for different constructs and behaviors. Organizations will need to respect that Japan is a country scoring closer to the “we” end of the Individualism/Collectivism Index, meaning family or society first.  When attracting more female employees, Japanese and multinational firms will need to lead with the guarantee of a work-life balance as the main selling point during talent acquisition.


  1. Tiffany, your article was very informative and interesting to learn about how ratio of women business executives in all of the different countries. Looking at the Graph that you provided, it is crazy seeing how low Japan ranks on with what it seems as much less than 5 percent of women executives in ratio to men. Its a good thing that they are beginning to increase this number. Also, as you stated above in regards to the culture of Japanese people, it is interesting to the changes of their culture and how their old culture ways seem to be transforming with the times. Again, great article!