Preliminary Study: Determining a Method to Utilise Japanese Women's Workforce More Effectively

Sunday, June 26, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
830 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Rei Hasegawa, Daito Bunka University, Tokyo, Japan
Shinji Hasegawa, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
The objective of this study is to determine a method to utilise women’s workforce more effectively in Japan. We first interviewed totally 30 people in Germany, Finland, and France in 2015, as a part of the research supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research. The interviewees included five European firms and three subsidiaries of Japanese companies in Europe, including both individual workers and personnel departments. The Human Resource departments were asked the following questions: (1) Component ratio of employees and its changes in recent years; (2) Human resources and benefit system as the diversity measures, legally enforceable systems (quota system, child care leave by gender, etc.), company’s own efforts (diversity promotion activities, etc.); (3) Recruitment standards, employment status such as regular/non-regular; (4) Evaluation criteria, effect of factors such as overtime work, accepting relocation, etc., abilities other than expertise; (5) Details of trainings; (6) Job changing behaviours of employees; and (7) Advantages (to companies) of increasing the number of female employees or managerial staff. Questions for employees included: (1) Past career; (2) Personal relations and support outside the workplace; (3) How to spend free time; (3) How to relieve stress; (4) Values: happiness, goal of life, work-life balance, overtime work, relocation, etc.; (5) Skills, techniques, and qualifications: whether skills are useful for or valuable in the specific firm only or could be used in any firm. According to some of our findings, as expected, most people in Europe consider maintaining a good work-life balance very important. It is a commonly accepted value at both the society and policy levels. Therefore, aspects such as the assurance of returning to the same position after maternity leave, husbands contributing equally in raising children, or maximum hours of work per week are not only enforced by law but are also actually realised. Consequently, for many women, it is normal to continue working until their retirement age, which is not necessarily the case in Japan. As opposed to our expectation, many women workers are individually striving to raise children as Japanese working mothers do, such as living near grandparents, using day-care facilities, etc. This is not prepared or provided automatically by the society. Second, some women workers with children mentioned that partly because of tax benefits, their husbands established their own ventures, to make it easier for them to manage time for household work and child-care. In Japan, husbands tend to maintain a stable job status. Third, from a company’s perspective, a pool of middle or upper level women managers is not sufficient to meet the quota set by the law. One possible reason is that it has not been long since women started working and taking on the same responsibilities as men do.