More brokerages name female leadership amid pressure for change

TOKYO (Agencies): Female presidents have been placed at the helm of Japanese brokerage firms in a series of appointments, reflecting increased momentum for gender diversity in managerial ranks in the country.

Yuko Seimei, 45, was promoted to president of major online financial service provider Monex Group, headquartered in Tokyo, in June, after Tokai Tokyo Securities in April named Naoko Kitagawa, 55, as president of the securities firm based in Nagoya. The appointments were in line with the government’s target of women accounting for at least 30% of board members at companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s top-tier Prime section by 2030, which was included in a package of measures to promote gender equality that was adopted in June.

Seimei joined Monex Group after working at a bank, and was named president of affiliated online securities firm Monex to become the first female head of a major online broker in Japan, before being promoted to lead Monex Group. “New values will not be generated without diversity,” says Seimei, as she seeks to pursue a corporate culture not constrained by gender, age or nationality. “Employees should not be evaluated by the amount of time they spend on work,” Seimei insists, emphasizing work quality and productivity.

Despite facing a wider range of tasks following her promotion, she aims to add to her achievements without increasing working hours. Kitagawa of Tokai Tokyo Securities, who built her career in sales and marketing, held posts such as branch manager and vice president before becoming president. She says that there should be equal appointment opportunities regardless of gender. “It’s important for a corporate leader to be involved in creating an environment that makes women’s voices better heard,” Kitagawa said. Daiwa Securities Group, one of front-runners in promoting women, saw the share of women among its board members rise to 35.7% following a general shareholders meeting in June.

“We adopt an approach that helps women take it for granted to wish for a managerial position,” such as by expanding on-the-job training for women, said an official at the office for promoting diversity and inclusion at Daiwa Securities Group. Institutional investors are looking critically at companies without female board members.

At a general shareholders meeting of Canon in March, only 50.59% of shareholders approved the reappointment of Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai, a result that surprised many in the industry. OnBoard, a provider of a matching service for female executive candidates, has been receiving an increasing number of requests from listed firms, according to the company. CEO Naomi Koshi said, “Decisions made through diverse discussions at board meetings lead to innovations and enhanced corporate values.”