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  5. Drawbacks of Japanese-Style Personnel Management in Expanding the Role of Women

2013 Vol.2
Drawbacks of Japanese-Style Personnel Management in Expanding the Role of Women


The four main stages involved in expanding the role of women at companies are (1) recruitment and hiring, (2) improvement of the working environment, continuation of employment, and expansion of the scope of work, (3) appointment to middle management positions, and (4) appointment to top management positions. Since the enforcement of the 2003 law on promoting measures for supporting child rearing and the 2007 charter on work-life balance, the concept of expanding women’s role at companies has become widespread, and, increasingly companies are introducing continued employment measures. However, even though many companies and female employees in Japan are highly aware of the importance of continued employment that is compatible with child rearing or caregiving, there has not been much discussion on measures for the next stagesムappointment to middle and top management positions. Companies should recognize that they cannot rely on the existing system or workplace support in appointing women to middle and top management positions, and consequently that further measures are needed, including providing opportunities for female employees to gain skills and improving networking channels for women. Measures focused solely on advancing the expansion of women’s role to these next stages are not sufficient however; it is also important to consider their compatibility with the personnel management systems of the company. Factors that are disadvantageous to expanding the roles of female employees are persistently apparent in Japanese-style personnel management systems, and include seniority, rotation, a vaguely defined evaluation system, and a compensation mechanism designed for male employees. Such structural problems cannot be remedied by ad hoc measures implemented by those responsible for expanding women’s roles. To move women’s roles in to these next stages, it is crucial to examine and then fix the discrepancies that exist between measures for expanding their role and the running of the company’s personnel management system.