Diversity in Japan: window dressing?

Sept. 10, 2012

Are foreign-capital companies in Japan really serious about increasing the percentage of women and diversity groups in leadership positions?

A recent survey by BCCJ member company Deloitte Japan shows that only 21% of non-Japanese companies polled are implementing global diversity programmes in Japan; 26% are designing their own, local initiatives. Of the companies polled without such programmes, 46% plan to take action in the near future.

The survey also finds that knowledge and awareness of diversity and inclusion activities throughout the companies polled is not particularly high; very few respondents can recall the names or terminology associated with Diversity programmes in their own companies.

The main reasons companies give for considering the launch of diversity programmes is to address talent and skill requirements for the domestic or parent organisation (52%), followed by a desire to align with corporate social responsibility values (43%). Only 37% of respondents view diversity as having the potential to develop local leadership cadre.

Interestingly, a mere 11% of companies polled utilize their diversity programmes to respond to client needs and market trends. This key driver has become predominant among global consumer companies such as Unilever, who believe in hiring and promoting women who can mirror the preferences of customers and consumers.

Given the results of the survey, the hunch remains that Diversity in Japan continues to be viewed as a PR, CSR or goodwill activity - and not a business solution . . .

This article is the second of a series of four, which will appear throughout August and September 2012, to support the BCCJ's event, Diversity: What's the Point? (September 6, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo) THIS EVENT HAS NOW PASSED.