In a win for good governance, in 2012 the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) moved to a fully open and democratic system for electing our Executive Committee (Excom) members.
The annual Excom election ultimately determines which members will shape and influence the overall strategic direction of the Chamber.
That same year, we pledged our commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) by launching our D&I programme. This was designed to promote greater understanding of, and to develop support mechanisms for, diverse groups in the workplace in Japan—including women.
Six years later, women now represent 26.6% of Excom, and I’d like to see that reach at least 40% by 2020. Why? Why not!
The BCCJ team truly believes that D&I is vital for the future growth and sustainability of the workforce, not to mention the global economy. If we, representing the best of British business in Japan, do not take action and encourage female leaders to step up and take a seat at the table, who will?
Be in it to win it
In 2018, our Excom nomination period will run from 19 February to 16 March. The BCCJ office will be accepting completed nomination forms, including candidate pledges, by email from 19 February. After collecting nominations, the election period will take place from 27 March to 12 April. BCCJ members can vote for the 2018–19 Excom by online poll, post or proxy.
The results will be revealed on the evening of 26 April at our Annual General Meeting, to be held in the chic Conrad Tokyo. Women and men alike, should remember to book your seats at this members-only meeting and cocktail reception.
Pledge for parity
One of the pledges I’ve made this year is to have no all-male line-ups at BCCJ events, ensuring that there is always a female voice on the stage. Tokenism? Progressivism! While female experts might not always be as visible, they are all around us—especially in Japan. Admittedly, the above approach to event planning requires a bit more legwork but, in order for there to be progress, we simply need to do our homework and be the change.
On 8 March, the BCCJ, along with the global community, will celebrate the social, economic and political success of females on the annual International Women’s Day (IWD). I have had men ask if it is acceptable for them to attend our IWD event, to be held at the British Embassy Tokyo that evening. My answer is a resounding yes.
As a man, if there is one networking evening you should attend this year, it is this one. Now, more than ever, there’s a groundswell of support for forging on and normalising gender parity. Together, we can create new workplaces and systems that benefit men and women alike.
UN Women’s HeForShe campaign and IWD’s #PressforProgress are global calls to action: to motivate friends, colleagues and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
BCCJ member firms, including Barclays Securities Japan, BT Japan, GlaxoSmithKline K.K., EY Japan, Robert Walters Japan K.K. and Unilever Japan, are to be congratulated for achieving great things in the D&I space.
It is incumbent upon us to make sure that, working in tandem with BCCJ member firms and our male champions of change, the BCCJ leads the charge towards a more inclusive 21st century workplace.
This article appears on the BCCJ website, and in BCCJ ACUMEN magazine.