The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

And it’s a wrap! The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Chubu Women in Business Committee has successfully completed the second Diversity Summit. Titled “Identifying Problems and Finding Solutions for a More Diverse and Productive Workforce,” it was held on October 26.

As with the Tokyo and Kansai summits, this year’s event focused on concrete strategies and solutions that are working for both companies and individuals in the region.

The plenary session featured the powerful voice of House of Representatives member Seiko Noda, who outlined progress made and areas where action is still needed from government and the private sector to reach some of the goals put in place by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

We were also fortunate to have Paul Amos II, president of Aflac, deliver a keynote address about how, with ingenuity and determination, his company has developed and maintained high levels of female participation, including in leadership roles.

By allowing flexibility for both men and women workers, Aflac has been able to replicate some of the practices utilized in its US office here in Japan.

Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed Martin, then shared her personal story and counseled the women in the audience on key strategies for success.

Finally, Natsuko Horii, vice-governor of Aichi Prefecture, spoke about the government’s plans to increase awareness of diversity issues and reach HR objectives.

Paul Amos II, president of Aflac

Paul Amos II, president of Aflac

Following the plenary session, a panel discussion featuring four dynamic women entrepreneurs demonstrated the power and breadth of talent in the Chubu region. We were grateful to EY Japan for providing support and facilitating this session.

We were also pleased to welcome Mary Anne Jorgensen from the Kansai Women in Business committee, who delivered an interactive workshop on feminine leadership skills and how to recognize strengths and improve weaknesses.

The session concluded with lunch and another enlightening panel discussion on managing work and family issues, such as caring for children or elderly parents.

A representative of Catalyst Japan facilitated this session, and panel members, representing both large companies and small businesses, inspired the audience with their real-life solutions.

With the ACCJ portion of the event completed, many of the participants went on to attend afternoon sessions coordinated by the Aichi prefectural government.

We were pleased to have ACCJ member Harry Hill, president and CEO of Oaklawn Marketing, on a panel of corporate leaders who are actively promoting diversity within their companies. These leaders demonstrate that focusing on workplace diversity is not only right, but also good for business.

The event culminated with an ACCJ-Aichi government joint session of cocktails, networking, and speeches that showed the commitment of the region’s companies and political leaders to work together to continue the conversation, and also take concrete steps to improve work opportunities for women.

Erin Sakakibara is chair of the ACCJ-Chubu Women in Business Committee and was the 2014 Volunteer of the Year.
These leaders demonstrate that focusing on diversity is not only right, but also good for business.