Bloomberg: (Benes) ''It's Not Demand Holding Women Back From Joining Japan's Boards'' - The Board Director Training Institute of Japan (BDTI)

Bloomberg: (Benes) ”It’s Not Demand Holding Women Back From Joining Japan’s Boards”

Sakie Fukushima
  • Women represent just 2.7% of directors of public companies
  • Some worry about ‘overboarding’ by same handful of women

”Sakie Fukushima remembers the novelty of being the only woman on Korn/Ferry International’s board of directors, which she joined in 1995. Ditto when she joined the Sony Corp., Kao Corp. and Benesse Corp. boards years later.

Even now, three years after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made increasing women’s participation in the workplace a tenet of his prescription for reviving Japan’s fortunes, the proportion of females on Japanese boards has hardly budged — at around the lowest in the developed world. While companies strive to follow Abe’s lead and narrow the gender gap, there’s a confluence of obstacles so deeply rooted in Japan that overcoming them may take another generation.

“It’s not politically correct anymore to oppose putting women on corporate boards, even in Japan,” said Fukushima, 66, now a director of several companies including Bridgestone Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp. “Companies want to put women on their boards. Yet there are not enough candidates among women here, with the board experience needed.”

 Though Japan doesn’t mandate that companies have a certain ratio of women on their boards, Abe’s government has revised the corporate governance code to require boards to include two members with no ties to the company. That is expected to help increase the number of women directors as companies are compelled to look beyond the few females in their executive ranks. Abe also has been urging all listed companies to appoint at least one woman to their boards.

A new law starting April 1 requires companies with more than 300 workers to publicly disclose data on the number and status of women they employ, including information about women in management……….”

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Source:  Bloomberg Business News

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