Could the meetings and events industry lead the way?


Following the 2021 gender gap report issued by the World Economic Forum – which tracks progress toward gender equality in the fields of the economy, politics, education and health – Japan was put under international scrutiny for its low ranking in the political and economic arenas. The think tank pointed out that women are employed in just 14.7 per cent of senior roles despite 72 per cent of Japanese women being in the labor force. In addition, reports highlighted that achieving gender equality could take up to 135 years in Japan. Yet a break in the clouds could come from the meetings and events industry. It is one of the sectors where women are proactively taking the lead, innovating and making significant contributions.

Could it be an inspiration for other parts of the economy? IAPCO member and leading PCO in Japan Congrès Inc. offers some insights.

The meetings & events industry attracts women who want to pursue active careers. They know that whether joining a PCO, convention venue or the various suppliers who support the industry, their careers will be an ever-evolving road of opportunities.

It is one of the few sectors in Japan where women are globally recognised. A good example is Japan National Tourism Organization’s (JNTO) Executive Director, Etsuko Kawasaki, named one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry 2018”. She was the first person in Japan to be recognised as such.

Keiko Nishimoto, PhD, CMP, Deputy Chair and Treasurer, Asia Pacific Chapter of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), comments, “I joined Congrès Inc. when I returned to the industry, because of the top female management. When governed by a female leader, the corporate culture will be more inclusive, which leads the organisation’s increased capability.”

Photo credit: Kazuhiro Shiraishi

Meetings & Events industry players also do their part to reach out to the community and support efforts to empower young women further.

Congrès Inc.’s President, Noriko Takeuchi (pictured), is not only a seasoned professional meetings management. She also takes on several leadership roles to make a difference, in industry-related governmental committees, at the Board of Councillors of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), or as the President of Japan Convention Management Association (JCMA).

Her commitment to the development of women in business is also a personal one: she takes any opportunity to mentor younger-generation women – students, mid-career women, and women who desire to take on the challenge of leadership roles. This year, Takeuchi provided references and inspiration on developing careers and taking on leadership roles at the “Happy Career Program”, a Top Management Seminar for female corporate leaders.

From a company’s perspective, Congrès Inc. also works for gender equality by supporting different initiatives, such as the “Discover Myself” entrepreneurship programme for women or “Woman Grand Festa,” an event focusing on life design for women.

Corporations in Japan where many employees are women, including PCOs such as Congrès, have strategies to promote women’s active involvement and support various career paths, aiming for an inclusive and diverse team of employees and a sustainable working environment.

These include a commitment to flexible working styles and remote work, and more generally fostering an environment where parents can confidently carry out their professional and child-caregiver aspirations, in line with the SDGs of “Gender Equality”. These initiatives should inspire other economic sectors in Japan to narrow the gap earlier than predicted.

IAPCO is the international accreditation member-driven association for Professional Congress Organisers around the world. Its remit is to raise quality standards within the meetings industry with 139 company members, representing 10,230 meeting professionals.

IAPCO is committed to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, including goal number 5: “Achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls”.

Photo by Damian Hutter on Unsplash

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Noriko Takeuchi

Author Noriko Takeuchi

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