Leaders September 2015

Agents of change

Progress on diversity and inclusion

With the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) hosting six events this month, we are grateful at the chamber office to be hosting three interns, from Temple University and Showa Women’s University.

We encourage all interns to create a pet project that will prove of value to BCCJ members and our community. Past projects include establishing our YouTube channel, creating videos to profile winners of the British Business Awards, and making sections of our website bilingual. One of our current interns has chosen an ambitious pet project; more to come on this over the coming months.

WAW! 2015

On 28–29 August, I was honoured to attend WAW! 2015, the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo, hosted by the Japanese government. It cemented the commitment of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to increasing female corporate leadership to 30% by 2020.

Abe announced that Japan had, on 28 August, passed legislation to encourage the participation and promotion of women in the workplace. From April 2016, firms with more than 300 employees will be required to set and publish numerical targets for hiring and promoting female leaders. Approved by a vote of 230-1, the law is aimed at not only promoting gender equality, but also countering Japan’s labour and talent shortages.

Panel pledge

On 27 August, the Australian Embassy, Tokyo hosted a session by Elizabeth Broderick, the country’s former sex discrimination commissioner. Broderick said a commitment by participants on the Male Champions of Change programme is the “panel pledge”.

When invited to participate on a panel, men are encouraged to ask, “how many women are on the panel?” If the answer is none, they will suggest a female speaker or decline the invitation. Small concrete actions such as these have the potential to change business events globally.

Inspire Japan

On 15 October, Harvey Nash Japan K.K.—one of the BCCJ’s 13 recruitment firm members—will launch Inspire Japan. This is part of Harvey Nash’s global executive women’s network, comprising more than 5,000 inspirational female executives and non-executive directors, across a variety of industries, addressing issues specifically facing women in senior positions.

We are keen to highlight and learn from firms with diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies. During a recent meeting with member firm eSolia Inc., we learned that Rick Cogley, chief executive, created a progressive maternity package and now encourages remote working to support the schedules of working parents.

My column on D&I in the last issue of BCCJ ACUMEN resulted in more feedback than any I’ve written in my time in this role. Thank you for your support, insights and, more important, honesty about the challenges you are facing in creating a more inclusive workplace.