Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe.
Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa and Yuki Hagiwara have reported that Toshiro Muto, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tokyo games, is encouraging all sponsor companies, sports bodies and educational institutions involved with this year’s Olympics to compile and release their plans for improved equality and inclusion before the games begin on July 23. To hold himself accountable and to show that he is not asking other companies to do something he himself isn’t willing to do, Muto will release his own corporate diversity and inclusion plans in May.
According to the Bloomberg story, while Muto didn’t call out any particular companies by name in his announcement of the new initiative, the Olympics will be sponsored by many of the biggest companies in the world, including Japanese corporate giants such as Toyota Motor Corp., Nomura Holdings Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Canon Inc., and NEC Corp.
“Using the Olympics to advance gender equality stands in sharp contrast to the scandals that have weighed on the organizer,” Tomisawa and Hagiwara reported. “The most notable incident occurred in February when Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister and then head of the organizing committee, said women talk too much during meetings. That episode would see Mori step down and be replaced by Seiko Hashimoto, one of Japan’s best-known former female Olympians.”
Improved efforts for diversity and inclusion, especially among women, have been at the forefront of Hashimoto’s leadership plan ever since she took over the role from Mori. The organizing committee created its first-ever gender equality team and added 12 new female members to its executive board in March 2021, bringing the ratio of women among the 45-member group above the 40% target set by Hashimoto.
The increased push for female inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics will carry over to athletes competing in the games as well. The International Olympic Committee has reported that the total number of female athletes competing this year is 49% — the highest ratio ever.
That being said, Tomisawa and Hagiwara reported on the female representation on Japanese boards, which is incredibly low at just 8.4% — far below the 11% in China, 26% in the U.S. and 33% in the U.K.