Participants from several companies and featured guests from DG Justice and the Japanese Government at the 3rd annual roundtable sponsored by Hitachi agreed that gender diversity is not a choice, but a necessity that requires the engagement of top management and stable structures to succeed.

Recognition of the importance of gender equality and other dimensions of diversity is increasing in Europe and Japan. In 2012, the European Commission proposed a Directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges, setting a quantitative objective of 40% of the underrepresented sex by 2020. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set a goal of increasing the percentage of women in executive positions to more than 30 % by 2020.

During the roundtable, participants traded best practice solutions, including introducing flexible working hours and parental schemes for leadership positions or company trainings on gender balance. To change the situation, a dual approach is needed, both at the ‘micro’ family level and the ‘macro’ at state and company level in support of a more diverse work environment.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but statistics show that not taking advantage of the skills of highly qualified women means a loss in growth potential of an estimated 15 %. Roundtable participants agreed that gender diversity is not the only goal of business, but rather a progressive intelligent solution to optimize company growth.