The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


JULY 2014
Q&A with Toshiyuki Shiga
Vice chairman, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

By Brandi Goode

    ACCJ Journal: How can you “sell” Womenomics to big firms?

Private sector change is necessary for economic growth. If more women go to work, this increases overall household income and thus, demand. Having more women working in marketing research puts us in better touch with our consumers.

    You have increased women in leadership by 5 percent over the past 10 years; how have you done this?

The most important thing is creating innovation. The way most Japanese companies hire involves one group of people coming in from the same university, at the same time.

There are no disagreements, no new opinions. Women can give a new point of view and start a debate. This is how we create fresh ideas and cultivate them.

Take our planning process at Nissan. Even though our products are bought by women, our decision-makers are mostly men. Women should be involved in every stage of the decision-making process.

    What can men in leadership do to set an example?

Often, the leaders of big companies here say they promote diversity, but do they really understand what this means?

The statement is often superficial, about simply increasing the ratio of women working. Top-down initiatives are important. For example, from this spring, all our staff can work from home five times per month.

When women come back to work after maternity leave, bosses may give them light tasks, thinking they are being courteous.

But they should give these women jobs that are challenging, and communicate that they respect their career and want to help with their career development.

Tell these women, “I want to support you, but if the workload is too tough, just tell me.” If managers assume a new mom can only take on soft work, it kills her career.