Working with the Japanese-Build Trust and Understanding and Business will work

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Working with the Japanese-Build Trust and Understanding and Business will work

Posted on 26 November 2018 in Inter-Cultural Training, Japanese Corporate Culture, News -

I had a busy Japan week last week starting with a Derby based visit to Hitachi Information Control Systems and then on to Toyota’s Derby factory just outside of Derby. I got to see Japanese CSR in action here when a group of school children stopped and started practising their bowing and greetings in Japanese to the Japanese ex-pat I was walking with. Not only was this endearing but it shows the immense effect Toyota has had on the local community through outreach educational programmes and exchanges not to mention job creation. I hope that such merits of inward investment from Japan will be recognised through the current negotiations taking place within our Government. Then, on to Toshiba of Europe, where I deliver their Pan European Management Training Programme to support cross-cultural business understanding and develop team-player and leadership skills. This 2 day course is always fun as I get chance to really get to know the delegates and share information and perspectives on their experiences of working with a Japanese company. The main focus of all of my work with the above is to build cross-cultural trust and understanding. Without this, business never works.

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BBC Radio 5Live and Observer Newspaper comments on Japanese Business culture, Nissan scandal and diversity

Posted on 26 November 2018 in Cultural Awareness, Japanese Corporate Culture, News, womenomics -

As a specialist in understanding the differences between business cultures of Japan and the West and explaining the distinctions in a way to facilitate better business, I was asked to come into BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘Wake up to Money’ Show and also submit some comments to the Observer Newspaper in light of the recent Nissan scandal. Inevitably, both sides have very different takes on this-any western reporting of this that seems to blame the situation on Japanese business culture will understandably not go down too well with the Japanese, especially when there are other factors involved re Ghosn’s behaviour that culturally do not fit with However, the universal truth is that it will be seen differently through different cultural lenses. However, my final comments on diversity were important. Getting more females into management and board positions has been shown to improve diversity of opinions and encourage different ways of doing things. Maybe Japan needs to engage its own female labour force to bring about the many reforms that are happening. Links to articles and radio show are above.

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Speaker at Sheffield International Trade Forum-Working with Japan

Posted on 24 September 2018 in Japanese Corporate Culture, Market Insight, News -
Sheffield ITF

I was the key-note speaker at a recent Sheffield International Trade Forum event on ‘Working with Japan’ alongside David McWilliams from Withers&Rogers, who has been working with Japan for many years. I spoke about Japan as a business destination, the various routes to market and how people need to understand the Japanese to do business with them, giving delegates an insight into Japanese business culture. It was great to promote Japan as a business destination and network with Sheffield companies. #northernpowerhouse

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Gender discrimination in Japan-bad PR .

Posted on 3 August 2018 in Japanese Corporate Culture, News, womenomics -
Tokyo medical University

Gender discrimination, as we define it legally in the UK, is alive and well in Japanese business practices. The breaking news of how Tokyo Medical University allegedly discriminated against female candidates by lowering their exam results may seem shocking to many western viewers (I can’t even put here some of the reactions I’ve seen through social media) but in reality, these ‘silent’ practices are still common occurrences in Japan given that the gendered roles of ‘male as breadwinner’ and female as ‘primary care-giver’ are deeply ingrained into Japanese society and were enshrined within the post-war HRM systems of larger corporations in Japan. Although many top-down attempts are being made to reverse this mindset, the under-current is still that women wanting families are obligated to take a different career path, as evidenced by the relatively low maternal work-force (unless in non-managerial work/part-time or flexible roles), low uptake of paternity leave (Japan has one of the most generous systems in the world) and worrying levels of maternity harassment institutionalised within workplaces. Within this context, the case of the Medical School is depressingly unsurprising as is the inability to challenge this mindset that exists even within women’s aspirations or enshrine the right of women to contribute to work and have children within recruitment processes. Instead, they allowed this cultural norm to justify discriminatory practises and continue the male-dominated status-quo-another reason why little progress is being made.

You don’t need to look any further than recent controversial statements by leading decision-makers in Japan (mostly older male politicians) regarding the ‘role of women in society’ to see the resistance to changes in gendered behaviour needed for Japan to enjoy gender equality amongst an increasingly complex environment in which the government’s womenomics initiatives have been introduced. No wonder they have not really met their targets of getting more women into managerial positions-indeed Japan has steadily dropped in the World Economic Forums’ Global Ratings on gender equality since Abe took power in 2012. The most common solution/excuse I hear is that it will take time, possibly a whole generation, for new expectations of gendered roles to emerge. However, Japan does not have that time. Given the current levels of increased international awareness due to the upcoming Olympics and Para-Olympics, similar stories will be uncovered and presented for the world to see. Economically, it will harm Japan too given their current demographic challenges and globalisation imperative, which both necessitate Japan to leverage their under-utilised female workforce and attract non Japanese workers, either domestically or abroad. This is bad PR for Japanese Companies wanting to be taken seriously as a progressive global employer.

Despite this being one of the major challenges to Japan’s growth (both demographically and economically), it is being increasingly left off the global agenda. As an example, a recent Bloomberg article advertising a new book by leading experts called ‘Reinventing Japan-New Directions in Global Leadership’ about how Japan can engage effectively with the rest of the world, made absolutely no mention of the gender issue and from a look through the contents section, neither does the book. Very worrying indeed. Gender must stay on the agenda for Japan.

For more information on how we can support your company globalise and understand how to navigate cross-cultural gender issues as well as ensure your company can be a global gender-equal employer, please contact us. We offer innovative, flexible and sensitive training or consultation, however and wherever you need it.



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Japanese Business Links in the North of England-Gender, Inward Investment and Business Tips

Posted on 4 July 2018 in Cultural Awareness, Japanese Corporate Culture, News, womenomics -

The Japan Society of the UK recently held its first regional business event: ‘Japanese Business Links in the North of England’, hosted by PwC in Leeds and as a Trustee to the Japan Society and JETAAUK Chair, I was asked to speak and invite speakers within Japan related businesses in that area to come along and share their knowledge. I did a presentation on: ‘Why Gender should still be on the Agenda for Japanese Business’ exploring the large gender gap in Japan and how cultural norms and ingrained gender roles are a barrier to closing this gap. It highlighted how this will potentially affect Japan’s PR especially when Japanese companies are needing to globalise and attract global talent, due to their declining labour force. I also shared some case studies I have seen within my professional experience and explained how we are working with Japanese companies to create more gender diversity and improve their global PR. (For more background information on this topic, see recent blog on ‘Sexism and Survival of Japan.’ To find out how we can help your company globalise by adapting work-place structures and norms to attract a more diverse work-force and enjoy better PR, contact us.)

Rob Holmes from the Nasmyth group spoke about how his company had adapted their processes and communications to work with the Japanese and enjoy long-term success with Japanese clients within the aerospace industry. He also spoke about his personal journey of learning about how the Japanese work and gave tips on best business practices.

Richard Robinson, MD of Calbee UK, spoke about why they had chosen Leeds for their UK HQ, how they have taken Japan as an inspiration for their marketing and flavours and how they have reflected Japanese values within their mission statement and CSR activities, which include educational and social initiatives within the local community of their manufacturing facilities in Wales.

Nick Woodford from PwC rounded up the event by summarising pertinent Japan UK business issues including Brexit and Japanese investment into the UK followed by a lively Q&A after which everyone enjoyed some valuable networking, some Calbee snacks and cheered on Japan in the football. Many valuable connections were made within a diverse audience of business people, educationalists, diplomats and students.





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