On July 23, 2021, the opening ceremony for the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 took place. While diversity is a core value of the Olympics, Japan has been far behind other countries when it comes to diversity and gender equality. Euromonitor International’s Economies and Consumers data shows that the income gap between male and woman consumers in Japan was 33% as of 2020. Not only is there inequalities in income, but also in the division and care of childcare and home responsibilities. COVID-19 made it more difficult for working women to support their families. Many women had to quit their jobs in order to care for children. Global society rebuked the comment by the ex-chief executive of the Olympics committee. However, Japan’s consumers became more aware of the problem and companies responded quickly to their concerns.
Movements supporting women’s empowerment include product development made by consumer goods companies. In 2020, the apparel industry saw a surge in demand for sanitary shorts that don’t require the use of sanitary pads during menstruation. These products encourage women to live more comfortably in their professional lives.
The gender issue is not only for women who are already in the workforce, but all those who are about to start their careers. Japan has a unique custom in job hunting that requires new graduates to have dark hair and wear black attire. This culture has come under fire recently. A group of job-hunting students created the #Shukatsusexism petition in 2020. This petition, which can be translated as “job hunting sexism”, was launched to challenge common job-hunting rules. The #Shukatsusexism petition demands that job-hunters respect their gender identities and not discriminate against applicants based upon gender expression. It is possible that companies will be asked about their approaches and policies in the future. This could also become a social problem that requires job hunters to solve.
Unconscious gender bias in Japan is just in its transition phase. There will likely be an increase in demand of products and services that claim equality and adapt to it. Companies that demonstrate a commitment to removing gender bias from their products and services will be supported by a wider range of customers who will be more open to equality. This will lead to growth for the company. Japan’s consumers will be more open to people different than themselves, and there will be more initiatives to highlight gender inequality.