In what is seen as a big step for women in Japan, Nomura Holdings announced on Wednesday that it is naming 48-year-old Chie Shimpo to head the Nomura Trust and Banking. They will become the first bank to appoint a woman president in an industry that is still heavily dominated by men.
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s push for more involvement from women in the labor force and the political arena, few companies are appointing female executives in top leadership positions. In a recent government survey, Japan’s top three banks – Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui, and Mizuho Financial – do not have a single top female executive. Bank of Japan, meanwhile, only has one woman in its board of directors, which has nine members. The appointment of Shimpo, who graduated from the prestigious Waseda University and has an MBA from Stanford University, is seen as a major step in the right direction. She has been working for Nomura since 1989 and finally became an executive in 2012 after working in the share trading and bond department.
Japan is notorious for lagging behind other industrialized countries when it comes to equal representation in the workplace. In a speech to the United Nations in September last year, Abe pledged to increase by 30% the number of women leaders by 2020 and is insisting that “all listed companies have at least one female board member.” Earlier this week, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry commended 26 Japanese companies that were “women-friendly” or listed in the “Nadeshiko” brand that supports women by actively hiring them and providing adequate child-rearing support. It was a slight increase from last year’s 17 companies but still a far cry from what the government is expecting from Japan Inc.
[ via AFP ]