Keidanren to urge support for women in balancing work, family

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A building that houses the Keidanren office is seen in Tokyo.

The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) will call on its member companies to provide more support for female employees in balancing work and family life in the 2022 shunto spring labor-management negotiations.

Keidanren has included this proposal in its shunto policy draft, with the aim of reducing the number of women who find themselves forced to quit their jobs for the sake of providing childcare or nursing care for their parents. It also aims to increase the number of female directors and section chiefs who are candidates for executive positions.

It further seeks to address the issue of “double care” situations in which women cope with raising a child while simultaneously caring for an elderly parent.

Keidanren usually releases a report from its Committee on Management and Labor Policy in January, suggesting management policies for shunto labor-management negotiations.

According to the draft of the committee report, top management is requested to state a policy to support balancing work and childcare, and to create a workplace environment that makes it easy for their employees to take leave and return to work.

The report also called for considering the improvement and expansion of systems such as providing temporary allowances and setting up career consultation services. This is intended to encourage women who have been away from the workplace for a long time due to childcare or other reasons to return to work.

One issue is that female employees tend to lose interest in taking on management positions within a few years after joining a company.

In addition, there are many cases in which women quit their jobs to raise children or care for their parents while at the level of director or section chief, before becoming executives.

To achieve the goal of women accounting for 30% or more of executives by 2030, which Keidanren has included in its growth strategy, it urges companies to encourage women to develop the careers they need.

According to a 2016 estimate by the Cabinet Office, there are approximately 250,000 people nationwide shouldering double-care responsibilities. About 170,000 of them are women, half of whom also work to earn an income.

In June, Keidanren, a federation of Japan’s leading major corporations, had its first female vice chairperson.

And in October, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), the nation’s largest organization of labor unions, elected Tomoko Yoshino as its first female president.

In the basic concept for the 2022 labor-management negotiations, Yoshino set “promotion of gender equality and diversity” as a priority item.

The promotion of women’s activities will likely become a major point of discussion in the shunto negotiations, where management and labor unions discuss wage increases and work style reforms.