This is the twelfth year that the Nikkei publishing group have announced their rankings for the best companies in Japan in terms of supporting women. This year they highlight two retailers – Seven & I Holdings (7- Eleven convenience store chain) and Aeon (supermarket chain strong across Asia), who are ranked 7th and 9th respectively. Companies are scored on how many women are in management positions, work/life balance, utilisation of women and the balance between males and females in the workforce.
Those people not so familiar with the Japanese corporate landscape may wonder why life insurers score so highly (Sumitomo Life at #2, Daiichi Life at #5, Meiji Yasuda Life at #8, Nissay at #15, Sompo at #19) – but those who have worked in Japan will be familiar with the life insurance sales ladies who used to roam the offices dispensing sweets and namecards. Other less surprising entries are Shiseido (cosmetics and skincare) at number 1 and All Nippon Airways (#6).
Foreign companies also usually do well – Japan IBM at #3 (although down from #1 last year), Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and HP are all in the top 20.
Other Japanese companies in the top 20 from rather more male dominated industries are Daiwa Securities (#13) and Sony (#17).
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