Mizuho Financial is working hard to hire female executives.

Mizuho Financial Group Inc recently started a programme to connect female employees with board members in order to increase the number of women in management roles, as the large Japanese lender strives to update its services by diversifying its male-dominated management.

The plan aims to address the shortage of women in leadership roles caused by factors such as a lack of role models and opportunities for female employees.

As of July, just 412 (or 7.7 percent) of the 5,336 managers at the main business and its subsidiaries – Mizuho Bank Ltd, Mizuho Trust & Banking Co, and Mizuho Securities Co – were women.

Of the 97 board members, including directors, just three were women, all appointed from the outside.

“The management is fully committed to addressing the issue,” said Mizuho Financial President Masahiro Kihara, adding he intends to attend an international conference on increasing the number of women in leadership roles.

Under the program introduced in September, a female employee viewed as a candidate for a management position discusses issues such as the requisite skills with a board member from a Mizuho unit every month for about an hour.

While aiming to familiarize women with the role of management, the program also enables board members to learn how to work with female subordinates.

“I can learn how to think and judge when making management decisions, and make use of it in my work,” said an employee participating in the program.

The program follows a Financial Services Agency announcement that it will require listed companies to disclose the proportion of women in management positions in their annual securities reports from April.

Japan lags behind other major economies in achieving gender equality at management level. It ranked 120th among 156 countries in the overall gender gap rankings in 2021, and 117th for economic participation and opportunity, according to the World Economic Forum, a Swiss-based think tank.

Data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed that the proportion of female managers in Japan stood at 13.2 percent in 2021, below the 30 to 40 percent seen in the United States and European countries.

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