By on July 15, 2015

Auto Worker at Japanese Honda Factory

Last month, Honda released its annual Sustainability Report outlining the company’s position and direction under its new CEO Takahiro Hachigo.

Outlined on Page 73 of its 104-page report, Honda admits its number of female managers in Japan is quite low.

Well, actually 0.5-percent low.

Even compared to other regions where Honda does business, the number of female managers in Japan is quite low. According to the report, 12.4 percent of managers in Honda’s Asia/Oceania region and 17.5 percent of managers in the North America region are female.

Compared to other automakers, the number of female managers at Honda isn’t much better. Nissan reported that 8.2 percent of its managers in Japan are female, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported that 13.1 percent of its worldwide managers are female.

Matt Slouster, a spokesman for American Honda outlined a few steps by Honda in Japan:

“Increasing female representation in management positions is among Honda’s
top priorities. In Japan, Honda Motor Co. has assigned full-time staff to
the newly formed Diversity Promotion Office (DPO) to provide direct support
to female associates and accelerate their advancement within the company.
Moreover, the DPO has implemented new programs to support associates who
are managing their careers while starting families and raising children.
As part of its ongoing responsibilities, the DPO will work continuously to
ensure equal opportunity for women throughout the organization.”

The problem isn’t Honda’s alone, however. In 2011, only 4.5 percent of division heads in Japan were women, according to a regional study. Less than 1 percent of senior-level, executive managers in Japan were women. That’s compared to 9 percent in China and 15 percent in Singapore.

A 2014 story by The Economist details the struggles women in Japan are working to overcome. According to the report, 70 percent of women stop working for a decade or more after having children, compared to just about 30 percent in America. Of the women who work, many don’t work full-time or in permanent positions. In 2012, about 77 percent of Japan’s part-time and temporary workforce were women, the story reports.

It’s a widespread problem Japan has faced for decades and one that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has specifically targeted to help revitalize the country’s aging and shrinking workforce — and even that may not help.

By 2020, Abe said women should occupy roughly 30 percent of “leadership” positions in Japan — government and business. Honda has a ways to go.

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77 Comments on “Honda Has Alarmingly Few Female Managers in Japan, and They Know It...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    If Japan wants a future, Japanese women need to prioritize having babies.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That’s everyone in the West.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Heap big trouble in the land of plenty
        Tell me how we’re gonna do what’s best
        You guess once upon a time in the west

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          That song must have been a form of subtle trolling by Mark Knopfler. The reggae-ish beat encourages head-bopping, but then he inserts little two-beat phrases every so often to trip everyone up. I think the time signature comes out to something like 14/4.

          Still an awesome song.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I agree. It has an odd time signature and it is also an awesome tune. That whole album is great. I think I like every track on it.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            My favorite is Love Over Gold. But I’ve always favored the longer, more “progressive” side of most bands, or music in general.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            That’s an underrated album. Communique is the Dire Straits album I most often listen to, but Love Over Gold is probably #2 or #3.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Certainly one of their better songs, in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. The SJW agenda collides with the imperative of the survival of the nation at the time when the nation is in big trouble. Note, however, that the lack of women in the top position is a negative, cultural sexism, not a positive sexism that is beneficial for the society. Surely Japan can spare a few dozen women for the top ministeries and corporations. They can’t spare a few millions for the common jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>If Japan wants a future, Japanese women need to prioritize having babies.<<

      And Germany.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Toyota Japan has a female manager they can spare. She comes with a little baggage though. And tends to drift off in meetings a bit.

  • avatar
    Frankie the Hollywood Scum

    A quick search shows that ~4% of Japanese engineering students are female. It’s not going to be easy to get to the 30% target when the pipeline is so empty.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Increasing female representation in management positions is among Honda’s
    top priorities. In Japan, Honda Motor Co. has assigned full-time staff to
    the newly formed Diversity Promotion Office (DPO) to provide direct support
    to female associates and accelerate their advancement within the company.”

    This worked SO well for Toyota.

    This type of policy is discrimination, plain and simple, and it *will* weaken their company. Job candidates need to be assessed in a gender/race neutral fashion and technologies already exist which do this.

    “By 2020, Abe said women should occupy roughly 30 percent of “leadership” positions in Japan — government and business. Honda has a ways to go.”

    Abe is on crack. Clean up Fukushima yet? Oh that’s right, you can’t.

    How are those Japanese bonds selling?

    “Public debt as a percentage of GDP: Japan 226.1″  

    Which is ahead of Zimbabwe at 202.7% and this is 2012 data!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

    Japan as a nation will be interesting to watch over the next say ten years. Between the demographics, debt, and other economic issues I fear we will be watching a train wreck at a national level in real time.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>Japan as a nation will be interesting to watch over the next say ten years. Between the demographics, debt, and other economic issues I fear we will be watching a train wreck at a national level in real time.<<

      Japan's eco policies since its real estate collapse have been largely copied by US, w/ a huge explosion in public debt and zero interest rates. No wonder 69% of the US public think the US is still in recession.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Just focus on making good product and putting the right people in charge regardless of which type of genitals they have.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      That just makes too much sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      It’s hard to say that effectively 99.5 percent of the “right people” are men when they comprise roughly less than 50 percent of the population.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “It’s hard to say that effectively 99.5 percent of the “right people” are men when they comprise roughly less than 50 percent of the population.”

        “The Population” does not apply for management jobs. A small portion of it does, and presumably a subset of the applicants are qualified. It is important to understand the demographics of THAT group, the demographics of the population as a whole is irrelevant.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        It could be with more detailed information. Perhaps 99% of the most qualified applicants in the talent pool were male. Regardless, being “right” for the job has objectively nothing to do with the gender of the people already occupying similar positions. Unless of course one is applying for a job at a specific type of strip club.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      So you agree, eliminating actively discriminatory practices would be a good thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I’ve been saying this about every industry.

      What man to woman ratio your company has doesn’t matter, what matters is customers, and what customers want is PRODUCT.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    As a man who has a successful wife with her own career, a young daughter he has high hopes for professionally, and who has worked for several very capable female managers and executives, I find this type of target silly and arbitrary. Okay, they have .5% female managers. What percentage of the applicant pools (internal and external) they are pulling from are female? Is there evidence they are intentionally passing over females, or is it a function of the line of work and pool of qualified applicants? These are all extremely important questions when considering the depth of Honda’s issue, or whether or not an issue even exists.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      This. How are Japanese women faring at management level in health care, banking, retail, property, media… etc.?

      Or in other words, what Car-los said.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Sounds like politics to me. Japan as a nation has much bigger problems than altering the hiring pools at its major corporations.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      It isn’t Honda’s problem alone. It’s a larger problem in Japan, which is why their prime minister has made it a specific issue. They’re recruiting men and women nearly equally out of college, but women are either: staying home if they have children, or being tracked into supportive positions rather than administration.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The prime minister has much bigger issues, I suspect he chooses to focus on this one because he feels it is something he can actually address.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      Given that there was a widely acknowledged glass ceiling for non-Japanese HMC employees in Marysville, the much higher female representation in management at the other Japanese automakers, and the largely patriarchal and traditional culture that exists in Japan, I surmise that there is systemic bias against promoting women into managerial positions at Honda Japan. You ultimately need metrics to demonstrate change and progress, and while you may disagree with the specific target and timeline (it does seem to be something of a reach), the strategy is sound.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I hear Julie Hamp formerly of Toyota and GM is looking for a job…

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Please explain why “alarmingly” needed to be in the headline. There is absolutely -nada- which is alarming about this. Even stating within the article text that it’s a problem Japan has faced for decades, and that it’s a well-known issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      Less than one in 100 managers at Honda in Japan is female. I believe that qualifies as “alarming.”

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Not necessarily and without data you cannot make such a claim. If there was data which showed say 30% of management applicants were female and 0.5% were hired I would be more inclined to agree. But again an executive assessment program is the best option here as I have already opined.

        http://www.kornferry.com/kf4d/four-dimensional-executive-assessment

        http://www.ddiworld.com/expertise/succession-management/executive-assessment

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        A beta male chauvinist who feels entitled to use his Y chromosome to coast through life would find that news to be awesome, not alarming.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed. Stuff like this would not be happening if Farago or Baruth were chief editors. Still it’s not quite enough to make me cancel my subscription.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I’m becoming more selective on what I’ll read from the new articles list. Mr. DD is a no-go already, and I’ll start cutting out articles with sensational adjectives as well. And I have to specifically come here via a browser, as I stopped receiving the “New Post” emails about a month ago, randomly.

  • avatar

    Honda also just admitted charging blacks more for car financing than whites. Somewhere along the way, American consumers got the foolish notion that Japanese corporations were somehow more moral than American companies. Asia is hardly a model for ethnic harmony and opportunities for women.

    I worked for a large company that had a joint venture with a Japanese firm. My employer was as politically correct as they came, they even discontinued a calendar popular with our customers because one of our female engineers complained when she saw it at a shop. Yet somehow very few women engineers and managers got sent to Japan to work with our partner. HR was vigilant about anything that could be seen as bias in our own company while we tacitly tolerated our partner’s bias.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “Yet somehow very few women engineers and managers got sent to Japan to work with our partner. HR was vigilant about anything that could be seen as bias in our own company while we tacitly tolerated our partner’s bias.”

      And there again, are you looking for bias that doesn’t exist? How many women WANTED to go to Japan and were turned down? Is it possible that a higher percentage of male coworkers had spouses that were able to uproot their lives and relocate (if a long term assignment) or pick up the slack at home (short term assignment) to allow the male to go overseas versus the female?

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      Ronnie, thanks for pointing this out. It’s not uncommon for Americans to forget that legal protections for women and minorities is a Western thing. There is nothing to prevent businesses from discrimination in Japan or other parts of Asia and the macho culture is very strong there. To increase the number of women in the professional ranks in Japan, Korea and elsewhere in Asia is not a function of economic policies, but will require a major cultural shift. That’s not likely to happen on Abe’s watch or even in the next fifteen to twenty years. For me, the question is when will Americans start shopping in a manner consistent with their views on discrimination?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Inform the paleontologists that the dinosaurs aren’t extinct, after all. A small group has been spotted roaming through the TTAC comments section.

    • 0 avatar

      sasuga pauru-san

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Is this the group that refuses to get upset about a statistic that is completely without context? Guess what, last time I hired for a position, 100% of the applicants were heterosexual (as far as I know, anyways). I have a 0% record of hiring homosexuals for that role. Somone call CNN!!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If there was a major American corporation whose management was almost exclusively female, you’d be crying like a little girl about the unfairness of it all.

        Having a lack of empathy is nothing to brag about.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I think that would be very interesting to watch.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “If there was a major American corporation whose management was almost exclusively female, you’d be crying like a little girl about the unfairness of it all.

          Having a lack of empathy is nothing to brag about.”

          Holy Christ what a strawman. Also, since when is “can I have the context of the issue rather than a meaningless stat before I go into a SJW rage” a “lack of empathy”?

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            I’d also argue that your use of the phrase “crying like a little girl” is far more sexist than anything anyone else has posted in the comments thus far.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The little girl quip was meant to be an ironic joke, genius.

            If you can’t understand a concept as basic as statistical norms, then there’s not much that anyone can do for you.

            There is no way that those hiring statistics accurately reflect the level of competence of the candidate pool, which would indicate that the company is compromising its performance by ignoring some very good candidates.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            You’re wasting your breath Chris.

            Pch never ventures far off of his original script: an ad hom, an occasional non sequitur explanation, then another ad hom.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    “There is no way that those hiring statistics accurately reflect the level of competence of the candidate pool”

    And how do you know this? As already mentioned by others, only 4% of the engineering students are female. So on what basis do you determine 0.5% is wildly off to the point of discrimination?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Math also ain’t one of your strengths, I see.

      And it obviously didn’t occur to you that Japanese culture is not exactly oriented around equal opportunity, which skews the statistics even further. Why would someone go to the bother of studying a technical subject if she had virtually no chance of turning it into a career?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        You’re dealing with a Honda fanboy Pch, they only have one ear.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Seriously? I’m a fan of their products, I have no allegiance one way or the other to their corporate policies, and I’d have the exact same reaction no matter what corporation was involved.

          I’m not anti diversity in any way, I’m anti waging social justice war on some potentially meaningless statistic given entirely without context. I’ll bet the management at the local Victoria Secret store is almost entirely female. Should I be ticked, or should I realize they probably don’t get a lot of male applicants?

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Seriously? I’m a fan of their products, I have no allegiance one way or the other to their corporate policies, and I’d have the exact same reaction no matter what corporation was involved.

          I’m not anti diversity in any way, I’m anti waging social justice war on some potentially meaningless statistic given entirely without context. I’ll bet the management at the local Victoria Secret store is almost entirely female. Should I be ticked, or should I realize they probably don’t get a lot of male applicants?

          (are we not allowed to say p*ssed? really?)

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            With the knowledge of statistics that you’ve shown here, you’re not in a position to assess their alleged meaninglessness.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “With the knowledge of statistics that you’ve shown here, you’re not in a position to assess their alleged meaninglessness.”

            I know your only real debate tactic is to declare someone completely lacking in knowledge and then claim victory, but you’ve outdone yourself on this one especially. Show your work or STFU.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s not a tactic, it’s a sad fact. You don’t know much.

            If you haven’t figured out that Japan is a traditional society where women don’t have equal prospects, then the whole thing is pointless.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            ” It’s not a tactic, it’s a sad fact. You don’t know much.

            If you haven’t figured out that Japan is a traditional society where women don’t have equal prospects, then the whole thing is pointless.”

            Uh, first of all, no, you don’t just get to plant that flag in the ground and claim it. Prove it. what don’t I know? Be specific. Otherwise you’re just shooting off your mouth. You haven’t proven a da** thing.

            Second, my entire argument thus far has only been “we don’t have enough information.” We’re told 0.5% is wrong, and 30% is right. Well based on what? You, in your infinite self-proclaimed wisdom, are telling us 0.5% is of course wrong, and we’re dinosaurs for not believing it, and all I’m asking is “how do you know”? On what basis can you claim that there was a higher % of female applicants? For all you know, or at least have demonstrated to us, ZERO percent of applicants have been female. Until I’m shown some sort of evidence that females are passed over a disporportionate amount of time based on the percentages applying, the stat is meaningless. And that’s no matter how much you say “no it isn’t cuz ur dum hurdur”.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            And you wonder why I can’t take you seriously.

          • 0 avatar
            dantes_inferno

            > Show your work or STFU.

            Your reaction when you sense an argument slipping away from you betrays your credibility.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I found it to be funny. He may as well demand that I prove that 2+2=4 or that the 4th of July is on July 4th. It’s not as if it’s a state secret that Japan is a traditional society. Such demands only confirm my point that he doesn’t have much capacity for thinking these things through.

            In any case, if any of these geniuses had spent less time typing and a bit of time actually reading the document that led to this blog post, then they would have seen the handy-dandy chart in which Honda details the nature of the problem, including a bit more data. Furthermore, they would know that Honda sees it as a problem and wishes to fix it. This stuff isn’t that hard.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Pch101, there is clearly insufficient information. The percentage of female engineering students today tells you very little. At what rate did women pursue majors useful to Honda, graduate, apply at Honda, and have gained enough experience to qualify for the promotion? The more relevant ratio is percentage female Honda managers hired compared to the percentage of female applicants for those jobs. If that ratio was 1/8, then I’d agree that Honda’s hiring practices are very suspect, but we simply don’t know the percentage of women in the relevant set which is people who applied for those jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      If 50% of the engineering students were female, and 6.25% of the managerial hires were female, I don’t think you’d have a problem seeing the issue.

      The math here is the same.

      That’s way beyond random chance.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        He doesn’t want to see it.

        Next debate topic: There weren’t many Jewish professionals in Germany during the early 1940s. Were the Jews lazy or just unqualified?

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Exactly what benefit does Honda expect to gain by specifically hiring women over a similarly qualified men?

    • 0 avatar

      Appeasing the media for a better coverage. Maybe next time the mighty post-Baruth TTAC would not put the word “alarming” near “Honda” in the headline. Or at least that’s the plan. Worked wonders for Wal-Mart!

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      Well, in this case, hiring similarly qualified women over similarly qualified men when your managerial staff is already 99.5 percent male, one would gain diversity.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Americans seem shocked that other cultures do not share our values. I’ve lived in other cultures and the people in these other cultures are shocked at our culture. What everyone seems to misunderstand is that the culture of folks in other countries has more or less worked for that country over centuries whether we like it, agree with it or whatever. I worked for the largest chemical company in the world based in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The German culture is very different from ours and I disagreed with a lot of what they did and how they did it. I was very fairly compensated for my efforts by the company and gladly worked for them but I did not subscribe to some of the cultural aspects of the company. I think that we have much larger cultural issues within the US much more of a problem than females on the Honda management team. This is basically a non-issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Senna1

      Hey, Honda voluntarily sells cars in the USA. If they didn’t want their corporate practices to be subject to scrutiny from an American culture PoV, they can voluntarily choose *not* to sell their cars here.

      Hahahaha. Right. So, since we all agree THAT will never happen, US consumers are free to judge the company however they see fit.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Absolutely correct. Judge away. You know that they’re judging us as pains in the a$$ for expecting more females on their management team. Stupid Gai-jin!

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Japanese men are so irredeemably sexist that Japanese women have decided to make no more of them.

    joseitachi, gambatte!

    Buy Hondas while you still can!

  • avatar
    415s30

    I often go to the Nissan building in Yokohama to see what classic is on display, there is a mall near by with food and I see lots of female gaijin employees with their badges around their necks. Nissan seems to have not only lots of women, but westerners as well.

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