To mark International Women's Day on March 8, Japan Exchange Group (JPX) joined over 100 stock exchanges around the world in holding a Ring the Bell for Gender Equality ceremony. This article summarizes the event and the messages received from participants, including on how JPX is promoting gender equality and how the situation is moving forward in Japan.

March 8 is designated as International Women's Day by the United Nations.  Every year since 2015, under the leadership of the UN Global Compact, UN Women, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, the International Finance Corporation, the World Federation of Exchanges, and Women in ETFs, stock exchanges around the world have marked this day by ringing their market opening/closing bells in a "Ring the Bell for Gender Equality" ceremony.  These ceremonies aim to bring attention to the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality.

In 2021, 107 exchanges and CCPs, including JPX, held virtual or in-person events in connection with Ring the Bell.  Due to restrictions caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, JPX's ceremony was held behind closed doors with the fewest possible participants, and video posted to its website on the 8th.  Below is a summary of the event and messages from participants including how JPX is promoting gender equality and how the situation is moving forward in Japan.

The bell-ringing ceremony was carried out by JPX Director & Representative Executive Officer and Group CEO Kiyota Akira, JPX Director Christina Ahmadjian, and JPX Director Kohda Main.

From left to right: Kohda Main, Kiyota Akira, and Christina Ahmadjian

 

Speech from Kiyota Akira, JPX Director & Representative Executive Officer, Group CEO (extract)

The purpose of this ceremony is to emphasize the importance of private sector action in promoting gender equality.  In Japan, it is being emphasized that promoting women's participation is absolutely essential for the future; in his opening policy speech to parliament last year, Prime Minister Suga highlighted that we must not let Covid-19 slow the momentum of women's participation in society, and in response, the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality was launched at the end of the year.

JPX agrees fully with the aims of Ring the Bell.  From our position as market operator, we have been putting our efforts into promoting mutual understanding between listed companies and investors on women's participation.  I would like to introduce some of those activities.

Firstly, we are pushing forward listed companies' efforts on women's participation from the capital markets side, by publishing a list of listed companies which show excellent promotion of women's participation as "Nadeshiko Brands" in partnership with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).  In addition, from the perspective of "ESG" investment, which is shifting more and more to the mainstream in the investment community, we highlight women's participation within the "S" of ESG as an important factor in improving a company's sustainability.  To encourage ESG investment in general, JPX is working continuously to improve listed companies' ESG information disclosure, for example setting up a Sustainability Committee with myself as Chair in July 2018, publishing the Practical Handbook for ESG Disclosure in March 2020, and launching the JPX ESG Knowledge Hub in November the same year.

JPX will continue to contribute to a sustainable society through its ESG-related activities, both as a market operator and a listed company.

 

Speech from Christina Ahmadjian, JPX Director (extract)

As well as encouraging women's participation as a market operator, from our position as a listed company, JPX is also making efforts to improve gender equality in our own workplace.  Beginning with maternity, childcare and adult care leave, in order to create a working environment which enables female employees to utilize their capabilities and gain expertise even more than before, JPX has implemented training programs for women aimed at career advancement, networking opportunities with female employees at other companies, and training for management which encourages understanding of a diverse workforce, among other things.

Covid-19 has made the past year difficult for all of us, but we must not let women take the brunt of the pain – if anything, we must make it so that women can take leading roles in societal change after the Covid-19 recovery. 

 

Separately, special guest the Minister in charge of Women's Empowerment, Marukawa Tamayo, contributed to the event via a video message.  In this message, she spoke about how lagging behind other developed countries on gender equality will affect Japan’s economic growth and its ability to attract international talent, and how the government is working to improve the situation through the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality.  She called on companies to incorporate ESG, including gender equality, into their management, and on investors to actively consider companies’ performance on gender equality in their investment decisions.

In addition, organizers the UN Global Compact, UN Women, Women in ETFs and the IFC also contributed messages, introducing their own activities aimed at improving gender equality and their thoughts on the current situation in Japan.

 

To watch a short summary video of the event, please see the JPX news release in English:
https://www.jpx.co.jp/english/corporate/news/news-releases/0010/20210308-01.html

To watch the full ceremony and video messages (in Japanese), please see the Japanese event page:
https://www.jpx.co.jp/corporate/sustainability/news-events/20210308-01.html