In Japan, women are its secret weapon

HRM 26 Nov 2012

Women could potentially save Japan’s failing economy if more of them had jobs, according to Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund.

A report by Goldman Sachs estimated that Japan’s GDP could go up by 15% if female participation in Japan went up to match the men. Currently, only 60% of women are in the workforce, compared to 80% of men.

According to the report, seven out of 10 women stop working after their first child, and only 65% of women with a college-level education work.

"Unless more women work and get their own incomes, they cannot start a family," Masahiro Yamada, professor of family sociology at Tokyo's Chuo University, told AFP. "Without women joining the workforce, the government's tax revenue won't pick up because the population will continue to shrink.”

A lack of childcare makes returning to work difficult for many women as nursery places are at a premium and only available at certain hours during the day.

For some women, the problem is the incongruence of family life and Japan's famously long work hours.

"The gender issue is really ignored in Japan," Kaori Sasaki, president and CEO of consulting firm ewoman, was quoted as saying.

"After World War II… a certain group of men occupied top positions in the fields of economy, media and politics," she said. "These boys' network shared the same values and made decisions unopposed."

As a result, Japan has been unable to move forward to meet the challenges in a fast-moving world.

Official government data showed that women consist of only 1.2% of executives at 3,600 listed companies.

"This is a management and growth strategy," she said adding scandal-hit companies –  including Olympus, which hid US$1.7 billion of losses and Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant – would have been better at dealing with their disasters if they had a more diverse senior management.

"When you try to manage crisis, create products or design services, diversity really counts," she said.


Leave your comment
Start a new discussion

HRM Asia forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Post a Comment
HRM Asia welcomes your contribution. Your IP address is recorded in the event of a complaint.
Name *
Email *
(required, but will not display)
Comment *
Please enter in the numbers in the box left.
You are about to submit your comment. Is it:
  • Professional
  • In your own name or pseudonym, not impersonating someone else
  • Free from rude language
  • Free from advertising
  • If you prefer not to post but are still keen to get your viewpoint across, you can always e-mail the editor.
  • 27 Aug | Frazer Jones - Global HR Search and Recruitment | Singapore
    HR payroll expert required to manage and lead a team in accuracy and compliance of payroll benefits programs and practice
    27 Aug | Frazer Jones Global HR Search & Recruitment | Singapore
    Manage all HR, operational and administrative matters for the office
    25 Aug | Frazer Jones Global HR Search & Recruitment | Singapore
    The HR Associate will support the Regional HR Director on a range of HR matters in the region.
    Itron: A five-prong guideline to employee retention
    Jayesh Menon, Regional HR Leader and Director, Asia Pacific, Itron, shares how companies should formulate a HR blueprint to tackle organisational retention
    Innovation in engagement, motivation and retention of talent
    GSK: Talent management – a serious business imperative
    Talent Management for Sustainability: Default or Design?
    Performance Leadership Pte Ltd |
    Lunch, Learn and Bond with your teams, all within 1 hour! Choose from a variety of light-hearted, interesting or thought-provoking topics that appeal ...
    Performance Recognition Pte Ltd |
    A monthly business incubator where leaders grow their skills, exchange ideas and share best practices.
    Organisational Development Concepts |
    Companies are fighting to hire talents. How do you select the right candidates with the knowledge, skill and attitude that the company is looking for?