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Harnessing the potential of women in the workforce

By Yoriko Goto - February 01, 2012

Yoriko Goto in DavosI have just spent a fascinating week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The theme for 2012, The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models, covered several topics such as shifts of geopolitical and geo-economic power, multiculturalism, technological innovation, and job creation. For example, academics and business leaders put forth the idea of job creation that focuses on the hundreds of millions of people that will enter the job market in the next decade. Businesses that will gain a competitive advantage in the future will be those that focus on talent by fostering entrepreneurial risk-taking and achieving true gender equality.

Against this backdrop of gender equality discussions, one of the highlights of the week for me was the Gender Parity session on Friday. As the leader of the Japanese Financial Services Industry practice at Deloitte Japan and the first female represented on the Deloitte Japan Executive Board, I am passionate about shaping employment and leadership opportunities for women. I had the privilege of talking to leaders from around the world in this interactive workshop about their experiences, and how to improve opportunities and career paths for women leaders in the future.

Although progress has been made in the past several decades in addressing gender inequality, there is a long way to go with respect to harnessing the potential of women in the workforce. In Asia alone the female labour force in 2011has reached 734 million, however, women in Asia do not hold as many leadership positions in major companies compared with Europe and North America.1

The view of leaders at Davos was that both nations and businesses can benefit by making wise, balanced investments in developing women as workers and potential leaders. Businesses should not only value diversity, but can also make steps to capitalise on it.

As a woman leader from Asia, I have a unique perspective on the dynamics of women and leadership. People of different cultures have different expectations from their managers and leaders.

Today’s leaders are faced with many challenges such as globalisation, diversity in workforces, the impact of business on society, and a highly competitive environment. I believe women leaders bring different perspectives to influencing group attitudes, team-playing, developing commitment, and inspiring and motivating others to achieve a common goal. In addition, women can bring different attitudes and behaviors to the boardroom.

I am proud to have been in the company of such distinguished leaders in Davos, and honored to have represented Deloitte at the 2012 Annual Meeting. It was a very memorable experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions with leaders about what the future should look like, and how we can inspire businesses and leaders to realise such visions.  

1 “Women and labour markets in Asia: Rebalancing for gender equality,” International Labour Organization and Asian Development Bank, 2011

For more insights, view Yoriko Goto's video interview in Davos


Yoriko Goto, Deloitte JapanYoriko Goto is the Managing Partner of Deloitte Japan’s Financial Services Industry practice and a Board Member of Deloitte Japan. She is the first female appointed to the Board of Deloitte Japan. She also serves as Country Leader of Japan for the Global Financial Services Industry (GFSI) of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and a member of the GFSI Board. Yoriko has nearly 30 years of public accounting experience, working with Japanese and multinational financial institutions.

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