Lixil chief says quota system needed to promote female execs in Japan

JIJI

The goal set by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to fill at least 30 percent of Japan’s corporate managerial positions with women by the year 2020 should be transformed into a quota system, according to Yoshiaki Fujimori, president of Lixil Group Corp., a maker of home fixtures.

Fujimori insisted in a recent interview that achieving Abe’s target will be impossible unless companies themselves really get on board.

The Lixil Group intends to put women in at least 30 percent of its managerial posts and have them fill 30 percent or more of all new hires in fiscal 2015.

“A carrot-and-stick approach should be taken. By this I mean quotas,” Fujimori said. “For example, corporate taxes could be reduced by 1 or 2 percent if the proportion of women in a company reaches 30 percent. If it fails to achieve the figure, the name of the company should be disclosed and a fine imposed.”

Asked about the impact of promoting women, Fujimori said that “diversity gives communities energy.”

By giving women more opportunities, communities can achieve true gender equality, he said, and the most effective way to build a vigorous society is to hire a variety of people, including women.

Fujimori’s long experience working overseas has influenced his philosophy. When he joined U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co. in 1990, he believed he could succeed if GE allowed him to work in an environment where racial differences were not an issue.

“GE gave me such an environment and I went as far as I could,” Fujimori said. “My experience at GE has undoubtedly formed the basis of my ideas.”

He rose to become a senior vice president at GE.

Asked whether more public support is needed for women to fully participate in society, Fujimori said that “encouragement and a public sense of obligation are necessary if men and women are going to share the burden of raising children.” There should be tax exemptions depending on the number of children, he said, underscoring the importance of businesses doing all they can.

“I came up with the extreme idea that one’s annual salary should be raised by ¥1 million for every child you have,” he said.