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Beauty Company Shiseido Sees The Strength In Women Leaders

Japanese beauty products group Shiseido was cited as a leading example in a recent McKinsey & Company report of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) success stories.

McKinsey, a leading global consulting firm, highlighted Shiseido’s deep commitment to executive management that helped it to achieve its DEI goals successfully. 

Executive management made DEI a core business priority at Shiseido in 2014. This included taking full accountability for the results of DEI initiatives and being a role model for the desired change. It also made sufficient available resources in budget, expertise, and timeline to fulfill its DEI goals.

One of the goals was to accelerate gender parity at the board and executive management levels for women in their Japan office and local business community.

Photo Courtesy Shiseido

“Senior business leaders were held accountable for improving the ratio of women managers and leaders through a “social value indicator,” which factors into performance metrics and are tied to their compensation,” states the report. “The CEO also directly contributed to efforts including by promoting the training program, coaching program participants, personally reviewing decisions on female candidates in the succession planning process, and serving as inaugural chair of the Japan chapter of the “30% Club.”

The result? Shiseido saw a 24% increase in the ratio of women leaders from the start of 2017 to the beginning of 2022. In addition, 44% of participants were promoted to the director or vice president roles from 2017 to 2021.

Photo Courtesy Shiseido

Currently, Shiseido’s workforce is made up of 80% of women. Women leaders comprise 58.3% of its global organization. As of April 2022, 46% of directors and auditors were women. In Japan alone, women leaders represented 37.3%. 

“We believe that empowerment of women creates innovation and will lead to further growth of the company and to self-fulfillment of the employees,” Shiseido said.

“For this reason, we plan to raise the proportion of female leaders on all levels of the organization in Japan to 50%, which is the symbol of equal job opportunity, by the year 2030.”

Initiatives that have contributed so far to the greater representation of women in leadership roles are multi-faceted. The company has been implementing programs to support women’s life events, such as childcare leave and shorter working hours during the childcare period, since the 1990s. It opened two childcare facilities in 2003 and 2017. It also created a program in 2008 to allow women to work shorter hours due to childcare. Through a variety of these and other initiatives, 99.3% of women working for Shiseido Group in Japan received job reinstatement after childcare leave.

Photo Courtesy Shiseido

The cosmetics firm also organized training for women leaders. Through a program launched in 2021, women managerial candidates participated in sessions focused on management and business skills, as well as the exploration of their individual leadership styles. They also learned how to deal with obstacles in leadership, as well as improve their networking skills.

But the company goes even further, aiming to achieve its 50% of women leaders goal by 2030.

Female senior leadership must be strengthened, says the company. To that effect, another program was created for existing female leaders who head business divisions.

“Participants assume the role of the company president to develop their own business vision, which is discussed with the CEO,” says Shiseido. “In the 10-day program to delve into decision-making by the corporate executive in various situations, the participants are expected to clearly identify their decision-making standards and to acquire the skill to deal with pressure in making significant decisions.”

Other actions include mentoring programs by women for women, a more flexible work environment such as telework and flextime, and hybrid work.


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