For Monthly Bigaku magazine, I’ve started a series on Women in Business. The title of the article is [If She is your Ally, you have no Enemy, If She is your Enemy you have no Future” My premise is that the last 50 years in Japan has seen a corporate world grow up around and centered on men and how men think, work and cooperate. There is NOTHING wrong with this and it is a natural result of a role based society in which men go out to work and women rule the nest, raise the children and take care of finance. But…we are in an ageing society desperate for new blood in the workplace, women are more able and organized than ever and we are slowly making headway on the corporate floor. Ladies like me honed our business skill in an environment dominated by men as it obviously was and still is. I have no complaints about this and I am actually grateful for all the men who pulled together and brought Japan out of the post war period, through the bubble and into the 21st Century. I am also grateful for the powers that are eager to see women more active in the work place. Great! Fantastic! Exciting!
As more and more young women are hired and become intrinsic to this male-founded corporate environment, managers are scratching their heads about how to lead, encourage and nurture these new “female” recruits. Funny thing is, just because I’m female does not make the job of leading and inspiring female staff any easier. This is a new breed. They don’t and in my opinion “shouldn’t” fall into step and fill a salary man mold. We need to consider how to create the hybrid version of the corporate environment. How to make women who are still minorities here feel appreciated, welcomed and most importantly, that their viewpoint and approach is valid and irreplaceable. I say, allowing the female side of females shine will connect to an entirely new type of marketing style, open up an entirely new customer base and bring a never-before-experienced sense of balance and “wa” to the corporate world. In terms of gender, business is becoming “flatter and flatter”. This will be a series on how I tried to entice the best out of my female staff…what was effective and what wasn’t. If you can glean anything from my experience, I hope you will stay tuned. As an American woman in Japan I’ve functioned solely in Japanese corporate environments and during my progress from shinjin at Recruit Co., Ltd, part-timer, outsourced commission sales person, manager, general manager and then member of the board/director at Space Design Inc., I’ve witnessed and experienced the Japanese corporate world from the inside as an outsider (does that make sense?). It is an unique perspective that I hope you will enjoy.