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Japanese banks may actually want to hire you – and you may want the job

For years, if you wanted a top job at a Japanese bank you needed to be two things: a man and Japanese. Over the last year in particular, that narrative has begun to change. Japanese banks are hiring both women and Westerners to leadership positions.

As far as gender equality is concerned, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can take much of the credit. He’s openly pushed to increase the number of women in leadership positions in all industries. The initiative was highlighted in March when the second and third biggest banks in the country promoted women to senior executive roles. Other high-level promotions and hires soon followed.

Now, Japan’s megabanks are turning their attention to foreigners for top leadership positions. The reason, recruiters tell Bloomberg, is that these banks need to hire overseas, where markets are hotter, and they’re fighting the impression of a “glass ceiling” for non-Japanese staffers when it comes to leadership roles.

It seems Westerners haven’t been accepting or were leaving jobs at Japanese banks – even if they were on U.S. soil – because they felt their career ladder would only reach so high. Banks like Mizuho, which employs nearly 8,000 people outside of Japan, are trying to change that.

“More and more of our revenue is coming from customers outside Japan,” Debra Hazelton, the first foreign general manager at Mizuho, told Bloomberg. “By giving the outside-Japan staff the opportunity to develop and grow their career within Mizuho, we’re hoping to retain them.”

It certainly makes sense. Japanese banks not only want to break into Western markets, they almost need to. The market conditions in the U.S. and Europe are much stronger.

In the U.S., Nomura is the most aggressive hirer. Their investment banking division seems to poach New Yorkers on seemingly a monthly basis.

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Quote of the Day: “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones." -- Ben Franklin

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor
  • an
    17 November 2014

    Don't believe this - nothing has really changed in Japanese banks. They still have a long way to go to come anywhere near giving fair treatment to women and non Japanese staff. To anyone reading this, please think very carefully before joining a Japanese bank.

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