On 28 February 2022 UNU-IAS organised an online symposium on the theme Women’s Economic and Social Change — The Future of Womenomics, celebrating International Women’s Day (8 March). The event was hosted by the UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa/Kanazawa (OUIK) and moderated by Yukina Yasue (CEO, Research Institute of City Planning and Communication Co., Ltd.).
It featured a keynote speech by Kathy Matsui (General Partner, MPower Partners; Former Vice Chair and Chief Equity Strategist, Goldman Sachs Japan), on the topic “The Significance of Womenomics and Changing Society Through ESG Investment.”
Ms Matsui shared the latest ESG trends, highlighting business and investment opportunities in areas such as carbon neutrality, diversity, and employee health. She stressed the importance of diversity, which helped businesses reduce risk by deriving inputs from different perspectives. Acknowledging Japan’s late start in the ESG investment trend, Ms Matsui noted that the country currently showed the highest market growth in the world. She also explored linkages between ESG investment and the SDGs, and pointed out that employees tended to place increased importance on companies’ missions and values.
Reflecting on her research since the publication of her groundbreaking report on Womenomics in 1999, Ms Matsui explained that Japan’s working population was expected to decrease by 40% by 2055 according to the government forecasts. To overcome this challenge she made several policy recommendations, including increasing female participation in the workforce and leadership positions. Japan’s female employment rate has risen dramatically since 2013, however, there are significant gender disparities in income and status of employment. She emphasised that closing the gender gap could boost Japan’s GDP by 15%, and that data showed that high cognitive diversity had a positive impact on businesses. She also recommended mandatory disclosure of gender pay gaps, more flexible labour contracts, and parliamentary gender quotas.
Ms Matsui proposed that companies should offer sponsorship and mentor training to female employees to strengthen their career management, and highlighted the need for leaders to promote inclusivity and increase awareness of unconscious gender biases. She also suggested using the term work–life equilibrium, rather than work–life balance, and shared her motto: “Done is better than perfect”.
A group discussion focused on efforts to make women’s empowerment the engine of the economy for the Hokuriku region of Japan. Other speakers at the event included Yoshiko Shiga (CEO, UFUFU Co., Ltd.), Manami Tanimura (Managing Director, Erinku Co., Ltd.), Sachi Haida (Deputy General Manager of the Business Planning Department and Hometown Promotion Office, Ishikawa Zweigen, Inc.), and Rieko Miyahara (Assistant to the Director, Hokuriku Bureau Planning and Coordination Division, Development Bank of Japan Inc.).
Further details are available on the UNU-IAS OUIK website (Japanese).
The Event recording is also available here (Japanese).