The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

As Chair of the Chubu Women in Business (WIB) Committee, I’m pleased to report that on September 13, we held our third Women in Business Summit. Titled “Shifting the Culture of Organizations to Create Inclusive Workplaces,” the Summit was held at the Westin Nagoya Castle with more than 150 people in attendance.

We were honored to have Sarah Casanova as one of our keynote speakers. Casanova highlighted the importance of effective communication and unpacked the strategies that she has utilized throughout her career on her way to becoming CEO of McDonald’s Japan. Her talk was well received and provided concrete takeaways that were echoed throughout the rest of the day—and no doubt in the days since.

Mayumi Tateishi, executive vice president of Oak Lawn Marketing Inc. and senior vice president of NTT DoCoMo, then shared the experience of her career path, as well as the history and growth of Oak Lawn Marketing and the Shop Japan brand. This illuminated the corporate strategies in place at Oak Lawn Marketing that led to its diverse workplace, and that make the company an exemplary model for creating and implementing diversity. This is a particular point of pride for the Chubu area since the company was founded in Nagoya.

The plenary session was rounded out by a video message from US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and a motivating speech by American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) President Christopher LaFleur. We were especially pleased that LaFleur highlighted the recently published WIB white paper, Untapped Potential and made sure that all participants received a copy.

After the opening plenary session, it was time to break out into smaller sessions. The goal was to allow participants to really contribute and interact with the various professionals who came to share their talents and experience. Two “Strategies from the Frontline” roundtable discussions allowed various presenters to share advice, from mentorship to networking and beyond.

Other sessions on such important topics as unconscious bias and inclusive leadership—two very important concepts when considering the challenge of changing corporate culture—were very well received. In addition, two more hands-on workshops—one on taking charge of your career and another on speaking out and advocating for yourself—had the participants taking part in discussions and role playing to gain a better understanding of the solutions.

The evening ended with a chance to network over refreshments, and to solidify contacts that had been made throughout the day. Again, for the third year, the Chubu WIB Committee was pleased to bring not just a conversation, but tangible action strategies to Aichi. This is something that we feel is important to keep in the forefront, together with the Kansai and Tokyo WIB committees, and we appreciated the support of both chapters.

In addition, we’d like to thank Casanova and Tateishi, along with LaFleur and Kennedy, for their contributions to the plenary session. Thank you also to all of our breakout session leaders and changemakers: Masako Arakane, Royanne Doi, Kaoru Kano, Patricia Robinson, Laura Younger, Rita Chhabra, and Tsukiko Tsukahara.

And, of course, all of this was made possible because of the sponsors who also believe in the importance of continuing this conversation, including Gold Series Sponsors Eli Lilly Japan and MetLife; Bronze Sponsors, H&R Group, KPMG, and Shop Japan; and Support Sponsors, Adjustment Guidance, Cezars International, the International Academic Forum (iafor), and the Tokai Japan Canada Society.

The ACCJ–Chubu office staff were also instrumental in making the summit happen, together with student volunteers from the community. The committee would like to recognize Noriko Kato and Masako Maeda for their hard work.

As we look to next year, we hope to see this event reach more participants, and to continue the momentum that we have created throughout Japan on these critical issues.

Erin Sakakibara is chair of the Women in Business Committee–Chubu
Roundtable discussions allowed various presenters to share advice, from mentorship to networking and beyond.