Here’s How This Shiseido Exec Is Getting Japanese Women To Stay In The Workforce
5:52 pm, November 22nd | by Hillary Reinsberg
When I hear the brand Shiseido mentioned, I think of the expensive and beautifully packaged eye cream I once got as a freebie. From now on, I’ll also think of it is as one of the few Japanese companies that are actually letting women make it to the top. All thanks to one champion (lady) exec.
Kimie Iwata is the vice president of Shiseido, making her one of very, very few female executives at a large Japanese company. Japan is notoriously one of the worst economies for ambitious women — not just because there’s discrimination, but because there’s essentially no path to the top for women, as the Wall Street Journal found earlier this month. The jobs women tend to start out in offer very few opportunities to move up, and it becomes a vicious cycle. There are so few women at the top (just 1.4 percent of Japanese execs are women, according to CNN data) that there are so few women to mentor ambitious women. As a result, Japanese women tend to drop out of the work force early on, or get stuck in positions that are mediocre at best.
Enter: Kimie Iwata, trailblazer for Japanese women in the workforce and agent of change!
According to the AP, Iwata’s spearheaded a few initiatives that do a ton to keep women in the workplace. They opened a day care center at Shiseido’s Tokyo HQ back in 2003, and even came up with the pretty ingenious idea of having part-time staffers fill in for full-time consultants who need to take some time off to raise their kids. As a result, pretty much all the female employees stay on after having kids — with those amenities and services, what excuse would you have to quit? Now, an unprecedented 1 in 5 managers at Shiseido are women. In the U.S., that wouldn’t be anything to boast about, but in Japan it’s a rather impressive statistic.
Iwata’s obviously not stopping at that, though.”The goal isn’t just to have them return,” she tells the AP. “We want to develop their careers regardless of gender. We want to have a lot of female managers and executives.”
Look, ladies. A lifetime career at Shiseido could end up being a stressful one, but we bet you can get all the beautifully packaged anti-wrinkle serums your heart could possibly desire — and an opportunity that few other Japanese companies are offering.