More Japanese women work, but there is a glass ceiling: ex-Goldman strategist

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In Japan, the labor force participation of women has increased significantly – as a percentage across the US and Europe – but there is still a glass ceiling for women in leadership positions, says Kathy Matsui, a former vice chairwoman and strategist at Goldman Sachs Japan.

Matsui is widely recognized as the person who coined the term “womenomics” in 1999, which became a major pillar of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic reforms aimed at helping Japan boost its economy by bringing women into the workplace become.

Japan has made significant strides on this front due to a tight labor market and an improving economy, Matsui said.

So we still have a long way to go to get women into positions of decision-making and authority.

Kathy Matsui

former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Japan

“”For example, since we brought up womenomics 22 years ago, the percentage of Japanese women who can (and) actually work outside the home has been one of the lowest in the G-7, “Matsui said in an interview on CNBC’s” Squawk Box Asia “on Monday.

However, this trend has reversed.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the proportion of Japanese women working rose nearly 72% – close to the highest, according to Matsui. That’s compared to only about 67% in the United States and 63% in the European Union, she said. “So the numbers have increased significantly depending on a tight labor market and a growing economy,” she noted.

“Still a long way to go”

According to Matsui, there is still a glass ceiling for women in leadership positions in Japan.

“But where that cap really affects Japan is that there is still a shortage of women in leadership positions,” she said. “For example, the female manager rate is still around 15%. And the percentage of female board members is still in the single digits – less than half of what we see elsewhere in developed countries.”

I think there is a lot of responsibility or responsibility on the employer side too, figuring out how to not only promote these women, but motivate, encourage and give them opportunities …

Kathy Matsui

former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Japan

“So we still have a long way to go to get women into positions of decision-making and authority,” she said.

Women occupied less than 8% of executive positions in companies in Japan, according to a Nikkei report last year. This is far less than the target set by the Japanese government that women should fill 30% of leadership positions by 2020.

While the government still has a role to play in making it easier for women to participate in the workforce in terms of the environment and infrastructure, the Japanese company also needs to step up, Matsui said.

“I think there is a lot of responsibility or responsibility on the employer side, too, to find out how to not only promote these women, but also motivate them, encourage them and give them opportunities that are equal to their male colleagues. To achieve this goal.” of higher women in leadership roles, “she added.