Gender-free, Generation-free and Global
Another company in Japan, Hikari Kikai Seisakusho, was also recognized in the APEC 50 Leading Companies for Women report. As a machine tool manufacturer and small business in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Hikari successfully increased its percentage of women workers.
Aided by a woman President at its helm since 2001, the ratio of women employees has steadily grown from below 20 per cent to around 30 per cent today.
“The most important factor for developing women in the workplace is not just having a policy in place, but the ability of top management to get things done and actually implement the policy,” explained Ms Keiko Nishioka, President of Hikari Kikai Seisakusho.
“If the top management says that gender does not matter, then it has to walk the talk.”
Under Nishioka’s leadership, Hikari established human resource guidelines that emphasize the three G’s: Gender-free, Generation-free and Global. A number of programs were launched including female recruitment initiatives, management training, and performance assessments that helped nurture women in the workforce. Today, female employees are now assigned to key areas across the company. For example, women at Hikari work as production managers, mechanical designers, manufacturing floor leaders and salespersons.
“Another important factor is improving the awareness of women themselves of their own potential,” explained Nishioka, who launched a management training school within Hikari and offers personal mentoring to her female employees.
“Even if given a chance at career enhancement, some women say ‘I’m not quite up for that.’ Changing this mind set and developing the confidence of women professionals is also an essential first step,” added Nishioka.