Japan: Time For Womenomics 4.0 Says Goldman Sachs

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Goldman Sachs Portfolio Strategy Research doesn’t limit its focus to just individual equities or even industries or sectors. Upon occasion, GS analysts cast their net wider and undertake a discussion of a macroeconomic or sociocultural issue of import. The report published today, May 6th, returns to the theme of unequal gender representation in the workforce in Japan.

The report — titled “Womenomics 4.0:Time to Walk the Talk” — is actually the fourth installment of an ongoing series on the gender employment gap in Japan. The first report, titled “Womenomics: Buy the Female Economy”, was first published in 1999.

Renewed focus on Japan’s Womenomics

Goldman Sachs analysts Kathy Matsui and colleagues believe there will be a renewed focus on Womenomics –which Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has called “a core pillar” of Japan’s future growth — given the government is almost ready to go with a new economic Growth Strategy to be released in June.

This focus on the importance of increasing participation of women in the workforce is not new, but is being pressed with a renewed sense of urgency this time. Japan’s shrinking and greying workforce, growing labor shortages and an only very slowly recovering economy is convincing a growing number policymakers and the general public that gender diversity is an imperative.

Japan Womenomics

GS analyst recommendations

Implementing a change to something as deeply entrenched as gender relations in a patriarchal society such as Japan is not an easy task, and that kind of change can’t be effectively forced by regulation. Matsui et al suggest a three-pronged approach to getting more women into the workplace.

First, the Japanese government should fully deregulate both the daycare and the nursing care industries, dramatically reform immigration laws, make both the tax and social security regulations gender neutral, require corporate disclosures regarding gender, enhance pay for part-time work and increase female representation at all levels of government.

Second, the private sector should lobby the government regarding the importance of workplace diversity, encourage more flexible work environments, establish objective gender-neutral employee evaluation schemes, consider diversity targets and “engage male champions of diversity.”

Third, Japanese society at large also needs to be educated to dispel a number of myths about Womenomics and the female gender. Related to this, a long-term public relations and social media campaign to encourage greater gender equality at home will lay the groundwork for greater gender participation in the workforce in the future.

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