Japan’s green push paves the way for talent outside the old men’s club
The growing importance of sustainable investing could help diversify the senior men’s club mentality of the boardrooms of Japan Inc., as companies seek to tap into a pool of non-traditional talent for leadership positions. direction.
From Recruit Holdings Co. to Sumitomo Life Insurance Co., Japanese companies are hiring younger, more diverse workers to lead sustainability roles that require thinking outside the box of traditional management practices.
The growing demand for talent who can take on these roles seems inevitable given the expansion of the global ESG market and the need for Japan and other countries to encourage companies to take action to achieve carbon neutrality goals. This could help improve the country’s poor position on measures of business diversity.
These positions are “relatively open to men who are not gray-haired,” said Junko Matsumi, director of consulting firm Mercer Japan. For companies looking to increase the percentage of less-represented staff on their boards, it’s also easier to assign them to these newly created positions, Matsumi said.
Although the evidence of a different approach to recruiting for these positions remains anecdotal, the growing need of Japanese companies for sustainable development jobs is clearer.
A survey carried out by Japan’s largest trade lobby, Keidanren, last summer showed that 42% of companies had integrated a sustainability policy into their medium-term business plan, a jump of four from to 2 years ago. Almost half of the people questioned also declared that they had set up a team in charge of innovation linked to the sustainable development objectives.
Ayano Senaha, 38, is an example of a younger board member who is also in charge of sustainability. Senaha became Executive Director of recruiting and staffing services provider Recruit Holdings three years ago, and got deeply involved with the company by stating her goal of ensuring that all executive and employee positions regulars are 50% female by fiscal year 2030.
“The environment we find ourselves in is changing rapidly,” said Senaha, referring to rapid advances in technology making companies more aware of sustainability. Businesses will drive or adapt to change, she said.
“Of course, your business opportunity is more important if you’re on the side that creates the change,” she added.
Appointments like Senaha’s raise hopes that the world’s third-largest economy can change its image as a bastion of decision-making power held by aging men.
Japan ranks 120th in the world according to the latest World Economic Forum gender gap ranking, while the average age of CEOs of Japanese benchmark companies is 62.7 years old, the oldest of the Group of Seven countries, according to Bloomberg data.
“Companies are increasingly assigning outside or younger talent to SDG-related roles, in hopes of bringing perspectives independent of industry practice or corporate culture,” according to Keisuke Mizobe , Director of Spring Professional at Adecco Group Japan.
Recruit competitor Adecco appointed 23-year-old Kohtaro Kosugiyama to head SDG last summer. Kosugiyama has already played a key role in the development of the company’s medium-term strategy by integrating the 17 sustainable development goals defended by the United Nations.
Adecco Chairman Kenichiro Kawasaki said he had no hesitation in appointing the recent graduate to a position that will shape the company’s sustainability policies, given Kosugiyama’s experience as a student delegate to meetings of the United Nations Council on Sustainable Development.
“Past experiences are not always necessary to create the future. Having preconceptions can become a hindrance when doing something new, ”Kawasaki said, dismissing concerns about Kosugiyama’s age.
Adecco and Recruit said they chose young people and women candidates for the positions based on their talents and passion and did not tick a box on diversity.
There is some criticism that token allocation of minorities to non-budget positions is greenwash, and it’s important for companies to think about how to avoid them, says Mercer’s Matsumi. Sustainability officials actually play an active role in shaping and implementing business strategies, she said.
Other Japanese companies breaking with the tradition of seniority-based appointments include Eisai Co. The drugmaker announced in April that it would increase the percentage of managers aged 30 or younger to 20 percent or more, in April. as part of its diversity and inclusion goal.
Sumitomo Life plans to hire talent in their early 30s as management in a new team that will deal with ESG and venture capital investment projects, the Nikkei reported in June. The team will proactively hire women and young talent with specialized skills, he said.
Hitachi Ltd. said in April it aimed for women or foreigners to occupy more than 30% of leadership positions by fiscal year 2030.
Behind these movements is a global push to invest in sustainability. Global ESG assets under management could reach $ 53 trillion by 2025, up from $ 37.8 trillion at the end of the year, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysis. This would make ESG assets about a third of all assets under management worldwide.
Emiko Nagasawa, deputy director of the SDG Promotion Office in Keidanren, said a Davos report showing that sustainable development efforts could generate $ 12 trillion in business opportunities per year and create more than 380 million jobs by 2030 has sparked interest from the business lobby to advance sustainable development. development goals.
Nevertheless, she sees the need to keep both a top-down and a bottom-up approach when making decisions on sustainable development policy.
“Sustainable development will not be achieved unless capitalism is redefined,” with companies maximizing their profits through business models built on the premise that they solve social problems, Kosugiyama said from Adecco.
In a time of both disinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us tell the story right.