* Recruit wants 50% of execs to be women within 10 yrs
* 21% of senior execs now women versus 10% a year earlier
* Only 5% of Japan boards have three or more women
TOKYO, May 16 (Reuters) - Glassdoor owner Recruit Holdings
says it wants to have women in 50% of its senior
executive and managerial roles within 10 years - a rare pledge
in a country where men dominate the top echelons of companies,
politics and the civil service.
The push for more women at the upper levels of Japan's
largest human resource service company is part of a diversity
drive to ensure a flow of bright business ideas, said Chief
Operating Officer Ayano "Sena" Senaha, its most senior female
As of April 1, 21% of Recruit's senior executives, including
heads of major business units, were women, compared with 10% a
year earlier, according to company data seen by Reuters.
"It's a survival mechanism - it makes commercial sense,"
Senaha told Reuters in an interview. "We don't manufacture
things, unlike many other Japanese companies, and we launch
services from fresh ideas from the employee base."
Recruit is already a corporate outlier in Japan, the world's
most aged society, where many graduates still expect to spend
their whole careers working for the same company.
Although three-quarters of Japanese firms have one or two
female directors, only 5% have three or more, according to index
data from MSCI.
By contrast, two-thirds of companies in the United States,
85% in Britain and 100% in France have at least three female
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Recruit's workforce is young and half are women. Senaha, 39,
was promoted to the board in June 2020, becoming the youngest
female director among Nikkei 225 companies.
She took up her current post in April 2021. The company
announced its pledge a month later as a measurable target to
accelerate its diversity drive.
"We need that pressure," Senaha said.
Recruit will nominate a third woman, Keiko Honda, as an
outside director to its 10-person board at next month's annual
shareholder meeting. Recruit has already had a female CEO, Eiko
Kono, from 1997-2004.
"It's a great first step and I hope they expand into other
measures of diversity and disclose everything," said Nicholas
Benes, a corporate governance expert.
"Diversity should also include nationality, upbringing,
education and key skills," said Benes, who heads the Board
Director Training Institute of Japan.
In the last decade, Recruit's purchase of U.S. job search
engine Indeed and job review site Glassdoor have lifted overseas
revenue to around half of the company's total from less than 4%.
It has a market capitalisation of $60 billion and reported
that operating income more than doubled to 379 billion yen ($2.9
billion) in the year ended March 31.
Indeed's co-founder, Rony Kahan, is the only foreigner on
In recent years successive prime ministers have emphasized
the need for Japanese companies to become more diverse and offer
Under revisions to Japan's corporate governance code last
year, companies are encouraged to disclose targets for promoting
diversity. Business lobby Keidanren has called for 30% of
executives to be women by the end of the decade, but such
voluntary calls to action have a spotty record.
Japan continues to be known for long working hours, and many
women still drop out of the workforce after having children. Few
men take substantial paternity leave.
($1 = 129.3800 yen)
(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Mayu Sakoda; Editing by Gerry
Doyle and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)