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e-Magazine (For the Japanese version of this article)

50 Leading Companies for Women in APEC Best practices in women’s empowerment | APEC Office, Trade Policy Bureau Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry [Date of Issue: 28/November/2014 No.0237-0952]

Date of Issue: 28/November/2014

50 Leading Companies for Women in APEC
Best practices in women's empowerment

APEC Office, Trade Policy Bureau
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry


METI has conducted a project titled "50 Leading Companies for Women in APEC," in which participating APEC economies share information on the best practices of around 50 leading companies in the APEC region where women's participation is particularly marked.


Initiatives for women's empowerment in APEC
In 2010, APEC leaders gathered in Yokohama recognized women's empowerment as one of the elements of inclusive growth in the APEC Growth Strategy. In 2011, the declaration made at the High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy held in San Francisco set "women's leadership" as one of the priority areas for future APEC action.

50 Leading Companies for Women in APEC
50 Leading Companies for Women in APECConcerned by the "leaking pipeline" phenomena, in which there are increasingly fewer numbers of women employed at each higher level within companies (such as manager, executive manager, chief executive, etc.), APEC's Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) has approved this project. The goal of the project is to encourage women's involvement in leadership roles by publicizing the kinds of efforts that are undertaken by private companies with greater participation of women than other organizations.


Key findings
This project revealed a number of significant outcomes from different companies' actions to encourage women's participation and leadership. Despite the wide variety in company sizes, structures, sectors, and leadership, many common factors have emerged among the participants in this project.

List of companies (72KB)

1) Strong commitment by leadership is a key component for successful policies to support women's participation and leadership.
Often, the company was founded by a woman who overcame many barriers as she led a company to success, and that founder's commitment to women's participation and leadership is etched into the DNA of the company. In other cases, senior leadership have realized, for various reasons, that their firm's demographics don't match its growth potential, and have taken actions to steer their policies to be more conducive to women's success.

2) Policies that provide equal opportunities based on merit and respect employees' lives naturally attract and retain women.
Some of the companies that participated in this project do not have any women-specific policies: instead, they have become companies where women contribute at all levels through implementing policies which increase opportunities for all qualified staff members through merit-based recruitment and promotion.

3) Recruitment of women is an important tool for building the foundation for women's participation.
Examples of such methods include implementing a quota system, setting specific goal numbers or percentage of women hired and promoted, making sure certain numbers of women are included among every group of candidates, and recruiting women or external experts into hiring teams. These policies help to ensure that a company develops a more diverse employee base and supports the future development of women leaders from within the company.

4) Personal relationships and communication among peers are valuable tools to build a culture of diversity.
Among the SMEs that participated in this project, these tools have included regular 'socials' or events, volunteer activities, and other networking opportunities. Larger companies have developed internal councils to support initiatives for women, intranet-style websites for employees to discuss issues, and mentoring relationships between women at the company. These actions have helped companies to develop and share awareness among staff, improve the office environment through respecting employees' input on important issues, and in some cases have also facilitated innovation and boosted sales.

5) Evaluation is an important component of successful diversity programs.
Many large firms engage in regular evaluation of policies through tools such as surveys of employees and studies of programs. In several cases, companies first undertook their gender support policies after receiving feedback from employees or internal studies about the need to build diversity at the firm. A rigorous process of evaluation has helped many of the companies that participated in this project to maintain and build upon their initial policies to encourage women at their firm.

6) Companies with successful gender equality programs often pursue external policies and partnerships.
In some cases, these associations advise on program creation or collaborate in providing seminars and skills trainings. In other cases, the partnership represents a link with a local NGO or multinational development organization focused on supporting women in local communities. These initiatives show how companies that are developing their gender equality policies can benefit from both internal actions, as well as working alongside external partners who can provide useful views or can act as a forum for sharing best practices.

7) Supporting women's economic opportunities frequently intersects with support for traditional communities and crafts.
Several of the companies participating in this project, particularly those from economies in Southeast Asia, are working to improve economic opportunities for women through efforts to develop the economic potential of rural areas, or through building markets and opportunities for traditional communities and crafts. Many of these companies also give back to the local community through supporting local micro-finance opportunities for women, providing skills training on financial topics, or through volunteer work. In this way, the company's employees and the women that they support are helping to improve the livelihoods of their local communities and provide greater opportunities for the next generation.

Next steps
The project seeks to contribute to the greater inclusion of women in economic activities in the APEC region by disseminating exemplary cases of companies increasing opportunities for women. The most crucial step in reaching this goal is to share this report on best practices with as many companies as possible so that they can learn from these cases. We would like to disseminate these best practices widely through various channels. We have focused on applicable real-life cases from actual organizations in the hope that these cases will be seen as models by those who are searching for ways to increase opportunities for women.

50 Leading Companies for Women in APEC
(English; APEC website)
(Japanese; METI website)(Japanese only)

(original article : Japanese)
(For the Japanese version of this article)


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