Commentary: Women disproportionately affected by COVID-19 job cuts in Japan

Author: William Pesek, Nikkei Asian Review, Published on: 17 June 2020

"Coronavirus fallout highlights failure of Japan's womenomics", 18 June 2020

...The coronavirus outbreak has put one metric into stark relief: women are losing jobs -- more than a million part-time workers in the past two months -- at a markedly faster clip than men. Though female employment is at a record high, too many women have been relegated to "non-regular" work -- jobs that pay less, offer fewer benefits and are all too easy to eliminate during, say, a pandemic.

Another point of embarrassment -- a chronic dearth of diversity in corporate boardrooms -- is on display this month as foreign investors at annual general meetings plan to call out Japan's patriarchy on its glacial embrace of equality.

For example, U.K.-based Legal & General Investment Management, with $1.4 trillion under management, will vote against proposals by companies in the Topix 100 stock index companies which lack a female board member. Glass Lewis, an American company that advises shareholders on what to demand from corporate boards, recommends rejecting candidates for chairmen on all-male boards.

Boston-based State Street Global Advisors is taking a gender-focused stand. So, significantly, is Goldman Sachs Asset Management -- no investment bank did more to highlight the economic costs of underutilizing half of Japan's talent pool...

Women account for as many as two-thirds of non-regular jobs, and thanks to the coronavirus those gigs are vanishing at an alarming rate. Of 970,000 such positions lost in April alone, about 710,000 were held by women...

Some CEOs are now taking frantic action because of fears that this boys'-club ethos is a risk to their share prices. Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank Group, has just proposed the first female nonexecutive director in SoftBank's nearly 40-year history...

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Related companies: Glass Lewis Goldman Sachs Legal & General Investment Management Softbank State Street