Blog post

Following the event at Swiss Residence the week before, I was given the opportunity to moderate the event entitled “Achieving Better Workforce Balance in the UK and in Japan..” at the UK Embassy.  It was just about the first time that UK and Japan comparison was made so that we could share best practices.

The event began with the welcome remarks by the UK Ambassador Mr. Tim Hichiens, followed by the remarks by Director General, Barbara Woodward.   Speakers included Sakie Fukushima who explained the activities of Doyukai on this matter, and Kathryn Narowskyi of Opportunity Now of UK, and  Tomoko Samura, Director General of the Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office.    As Japanese speakers had other engagements and had to leave early, we took questions right after their presentation.

After the coffee break, two presentations were made by the women in business–one by Yukari Yomo of GSK and Vikki Bolam of Lixil.  Both shared their experiences as business executives in the UK and Japanese companies, and the activities to promote better workforce balance at their own companies.

Then Q  & A session began with some interesting questions from the floor. Though time was rather short for Q & A as we had so many speakers, it gave us opportunities to clarify and learn from each other.

For me, the event had at least two features which distinguished this one from others–one was focus on “balanced workforce” rather than gender parity per se, and the comparison of UK initiatives with that of Japan .  I had not known much about the activities in the UK unlike those in Nordic countries, etc. it gave me some new knowledge.

I also met with quite a few people who have been active in this area whom I had not met before.  (The only problem was that I ran out of name cards of Keio and my new name cards were not ready –they were delivered that day, but I started early -before 8:00 a.m.-, and I was not able to give my new contact information to people who gave me their name cards!)

After the event, the British ambassador hosted lovely luncheon for those of us, where we continued our discussion.  I find it interesting that each embassy had something unique, though they addressed the similar issues.  I appreciate the opportunity to get exposed to different ideas. (Will post photo when I get them)

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