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Business trends

Japan women hold 8% of manager jobs, far from 2020 goal of 30%

Equal opportunity in the workplace remains illusory despite government pledge

Floor managers at Aoyama Trading discuss sales. The retail industry has the highest percentage of women managers at 12.8%.

TOKYO -- Women currently occupy less than 8% of management positions in corporate Japan, a dismal figure showing that equal opportunity in the workplace remains elusive despite the government's bullish promises.

The ratio remains virtually unchanged from a year earlier, climbing just 0.1 point to 7.8%. Nearly two decades ago, Japan set a goal of having women occupy 30% of management posts by 2020. Teikoku Databank, which conducted the survey in July, reports that momentum for promoting women has lost steam due to the pandemic.

"Because labor costs are being scaled back during the economic downturn, there is a tendency to cut management posts for women," said a Teikoku Databank representative.

Just 7.5% of companies surveyed say they have met the 30% threshold.

Among business sectors, the retail industry has the highest percentage of women managers at 12.8%. Real estate comes next at 12.2%, followed by the service industry and finance, which stand at 11.5% and 11.2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the lowest performing industry was construction, coming in at 4.3%.

"I've seen cases of women being hired as site supervisors, but it's not that simple because they don't last long," said a source from a civil engineering company in Hokkaido.

An eagerness among companies to promote women has retreated from the previous year. Companies that say they are aggressively appointing women to higher positions have dropped 7.4 points to 42.6%. And just 21.7% of businesses foresee the share of women managers rising, down 1.9 points from last year.

When asked what is needed to advance the careers of women, 64.7% pointed to the expansion of maternity and child care support. More than 30% cited the rollout and enhancement of telecommuting.

"We're revising company rules so that [employees] can work near children or home," said a representative from an Osaka manufacturer.

Teikoku Databank's results were based on responses from 11,732 businesses. Management jobs are defined as the position of section chief or higher.

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