Promoting Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace

Promoting Diversity and Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace

The president of the CITIZEN WATCH has committed to promote diversity and vigorously create a work environment for embracing the promotion.
In addition, CITIZEN WATCH launched a review team to promote diversity. The team interviewed numerous employees to grasp the present situation and examine measures needed so that diverse employees can be even more successful. An example of specific actions is a lecture held on diversity by an invited outside guest in FY2015 for the purpose of changing awareness among managers. Participants gained a greater understanding regarding the importance of being conscious of unwitting prejudice and preconceptions, and that female employees in the workplace bring advantages to companies.
In 2016, CITIZEN WATCH began providing employee training to its staff of both genders, who are in the parenting period, and to their supervisors. In the training, participating employees learn how they should engage with their families, colleagues and supervisors through work and discussion, so that they can continue to demonstrate their abilities and develop their careers while having various restrictions associated with parenting.
We have also introduced other systems to further bolster the flexibility of work styles, including staggered office hours to help parenting and a job return registration that offers reemployment to persons who left the company due to reasons such as a spouse’s relocation.
CITIZEN WATCH will continue to value our employees’ opinions and carry out a variety of initiatives.

Workplaces that are pleasant and empowering for women

In 2016, at CITIZEN WATCH, the Subcommittee of Women’s Empowerment, consisting exclusively of female employees, was established for the purpose of supporting various initiatives such as raising female employees’ awareness on their career development, helping parenting generation, and providing support for female employees post child-rearing.
While the ratio of female employees to the total employees at CITIZEN ELECTRONICS is around 20%, our recent rate for return-to-work after maternity leave is nearly 100%, making the company realize the necessity of creating a workplace environment in which women can more actively participate.
 CITIZEN ELECTRONICS aims to become a company, which not only encourages female employees to continue working following marriage, childbirth and other significant life events, but also enables female employees to “actively participate” in a more meaningful way in the workplace. To this end, the Group conducts activities for increasing the number of female recruits and female employees promoted to the managerial level.

Lively discussion at meetings

VOICE: A Message from CITIZEN's First Female CEO(as of June 2016)

When I was a student, it was my ambition to work in a job where I would be positioned overseas, mostly due to my experience studying outside Japan. At that time, it just so happened that I heard about an overseas sales position opening at CITIZEN TRADING (now CITIZEN WATCH) in Japan. Rather than a desire to work at CITIZEN, I chose the position because I wanted to work overseas. After joining the company, I had various roles within the Asian Sales Department and the Central and South American Sales Department, which were part of the Overseas Sales Division. These roles included working as a point of contact, designing product catalogs, and order management. After a few years, I was transferred to CITIZEN LATIN AMERICA in Panama, where I oversaw sales and marketing. I also spent time at the sales office of CITIZEN WATCH in U.S., where I assisted the company chairman. In addition, I have been involved with work related to over-the-counter sales promotions at the Sales Control Division of CITIZEN’s domestic Sales Headquarters.
I believe that when you have something you truly wish to pursue in your career, you should convey that to those around you. When the opportunity presented itself to me, I applied for a position to work as the CEO at one of our overseas bases, even though there had yet to be a female CEO in the history of the Company, and thereby I was appointed as CEO of CITIZEN WATCHES Australia.
As CEO, the level of responsibility for me will be higher than ever before as I will have no local supervisor and I will have to make various decisions on my own. While I of course feel some pressure, I am excited to tackle the challenges I will face in this position. Australia is a country where over half the people are immigrants, and, as such, I will be working with an extremely diverse group of people. In addition, with a number of female sales managers, the work environment at CITIZEN WATCHES Australia will be completely different from that of Japan. I recognize that as the CEO the most difficult tasks for me will be finding ways to unify this diverse group of employees and have them work in the same direction toward achieving shared goals.
However, I do not want people to look at me as “the first female CEO” or think that the actions I take are “because I am a woman.” Rather, I simply wish to be viewed as an individual. In many countries outside Japan, women in senior positions are not typically viewed in a special way, and a workplace with a high number of female employees is commonplace. In addition, women often return to work after childbirth. As many countries have a work environment in place that is extremely welcoming of women, there are many women who work in the managerial ranks at banks and other places of employment. This is one aspect of overseas work culture that differs significantly from Japan. However, recently, there has been an increase in the number of women in Japan who return to work after taking maternity leave, which I believe shows that the culture is beginning to change a great deal.
When it comes to promoting an active role for women in the workplace, even if numerical targets are set—say, to increase the percentage of female managers—actually finding people with the capabilities necessary to fill a the position is difficult. Rather than numerical targets, it is more important to have systems in place where employees can assess their own level of ability, and I feel that CITIZEN is lacking in having such systems in place. I believe there is a need for employees to understand their own skill level and recognize areas where they need to improve. This awareness could be accomplished, for example, through meetings once a year with his/her manager who could clearly point out an employee’s strength and weaknesses. Without knowing whether you are fit for a management position or if you have the necessary skills to do what such a position requires, striving to become a manager as a career goal is difficult. Knowing your own abilities is a necessity for all employees, not just female employees. However, in the case of women, there is a significant amount of uneasiness toward continuing a career due to such life events as marriage and childbirth. I believe that, to truly realize an active role for women in the workplace, CITIZEN needs to establish a system where employees can assess themselves through research as well as meetings with supervisors and HR staff. Just because a company is evaluated highly based on the number of female managers, it does not necessarily mean that management is being carried out in an effective manner.
Recently, the number of women working in technical positions at CITIZEN, as well as other companies, has been increasing. As technology is an important facet of CITIZEN’s business, I am happy to see a rise in numbers of women working in these areas. By having women enter into areas that have been historically dominated by men, the Company can gain new realizations from the perspective of women. Furthermore, the tendency of women to excel in communication and be considerate of others can bring forth new value for the Company. In that sense, I believe the active role of women is an indispensable component for the next stage of the Company’s growth.
It is also important for each employee to be aware of why this work needs to be done, how the current work is connected to works in the future, and how the work can be done more effectively.
As for human relationships in general, you never truly know how a connection you have with someone now will lead you to somewhere important in the future. Therefore, I feel that making efforts to respect those around you and express gratitude can connect a person to a future career opportunity.
Women will naturally have times when they feel uneasy about their future career due to the life events they face, such as marriage, childbirth, and care giving. However, by maintaining a clear vision of themselves both professionally and privately, I believe that opportunities for women to succeed will present themselves.

高橋 志織
Shiori Takahashi
Chief Executive Officer