In an event well attended by men and women alike, a distinguished panel of speaker and panelists discussed "gender diversity in the board room" - a topic whose time has clearly come worldwide and especially in Japan.
First, we were privileged to hear from Georges Desvaux (managing partner of McKinsey & Company in Japan) about analyses showing that diversity improves corporate performance by broadening the talent pool, and the techniques that companies can use to increase the pipeline of qualified women in their organizations. As one of the leaders of McKinsey's famous "Why Women Matter" project, Mr. Desvaux is an expert on these subjects.
Next, Christina Ahmadjian, Professor in the Graduate School of Commerce and Management at Hitotsubashi University explained behavioral science studies showing that if managed well, diversity tends to significantly improve group decision-making, but if not managed well, can produce the opposite result - a perspective that once again, put the accent on the "how" rather than just the numbers.
Nicholas Benes, Representative Director of The Board Director Training Institute, summarized recent global trends for guidelines and quotas with respect to gender diversity, including Japan's own non-binding goal of having a 30% participation rate by women in governmental leadership positions.
This was followed by a stimulating discussion and lots of practical wisdom about sitting on Japanese boards from panelists Mitsuko Miyagawa, Partner at TMI Associates, and Merle Aiko Okawara, President of JC Comsa Corporation and one of Japan's leading businesswomen.
The event led to much discussion and networking afterwards. The CCCJ wishes to thank The Board Director Training Institute of Japan (lead organizer), TMI Associates, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, the French Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and McKinsey & Company Inc. Japan for participating and/or collaborating with us in order to offer this event to a wide range of participants.
Note: McKinsey's most recent "Why Women Matter" report, this one focusing on Asia, can be downloaded at: http://www.mckinseychina.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/McKinsey_Women-Matter-a-asian-perspective.pdf