On Saturday June 8, WE Int. held a rooftop party and special panel night in Roppongi. This was the group’s very first open event since its establishment.
The night began with a members-only retreat. As members entered the beautifully decorated rooftop venue, they were invited to share their favorite quotes about women’s empowerment. One that really stood out was Emma Watson’s declaration of “If not me, who? If not now, when?” which she made during a special event for the HeForShe Campaign.
Another quote which was very inspirational was Mia Hamm’s quote, “My coach said I ran like a girl, I said if he could run a little faster, he could too”. Members also shared their personal motivations for joining WE Int. and this brought them close together as they empathized with one another’s struggles and connected over their common hope for change.
The retreat was followed by a lively panel discussion with our four very accomplished panelists, Ms. Brittany Turner, Associate at Morrison and Foerster LLP’s Tokyo office, Ms. Katie Wheeler, Senior Manager at Accenture, Ms. Mayumi Beppu, Vice President at Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, and Ms. Uyanga Erdenebold, Program Manager for “TOMODACHI” MetLife Women’s Leadership Program.
These inspirational women shared their experiences working in their respective industries, and gave practical advice to members who were keen to navigate male-dominated industries upon graduation.
One of the biggest hurdles for Japan is making the workplace more attractive for women. The rigid working conditions for mothers who are responsible for childcare and the high expectation of unpaid overtime has traditionally been a key characteristic to the male dominated Japanese work culture. These situations are often seen in male-dominated industries like finance and law. The panelists agreed that these issues are acknowledged within the society, yet not many people take actions to tackle the issue.
However, the panelists discussed they are hopeful because the recent promotion and encouragement of women's participation in society from the Japanese government has urged big traditional companies like Shiseido to create more women-friendly work environments. They mentioned to it is critical to understand the work culture when choosing a company, rather than looking at each country's stereotypes for working conditions. No matter which company you go to, the panelist emphasized the importance of being yourself. Their heartfelt advice of not letting others’ expectations or lack of expectations of oneself to decide who one can be was especially empowering.
The night then ended with a cocktail reception, where panelists, invited guests and WE Int. members continued having meaningful conversations about empowerment and got to know one another better.
We would like to thank our panelists, Mayumi Beppu, Uyanga Erdenebold, Katie, Wheeler, and Brittany Turner for sharing their extensive experience, insights, and practical tips, as well as our diverse audience for a lively discussion.
We hope that our collaborative efforts can create a platform for fruitful solutions to various gender related challenges that Japan faces.
Article contributed by Xinyi Koay & Momori Hirabayashi