Closing the Gender Gap

A SeeHer Series

By Yuko Furuichi, CEO at and President of Comexposium Japan

My entire career has been focused on driving growth and innovation in digital media and advertising technology. I started my journey on the agency side, working for companies like CyberAgent, but quickly realized my passion for sparking connections and innovation could help to transform the industry. That is why over the past decade I have been leading the charge at Comexposium, one of the largest event organizers in the world.

After I was promoted to CEO at Comexposium Japan, my passion for advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) activities was unleashed, along with my excitement for our core business, since the reality is that the Japanese business culture leaves much to be desired when it comes to gender equality. Through my experiences in global business and tech, I am grateful I can champion gender equity across Japan, advocating for Japanese women to have equal access at work so they can fearlessly achieve their potential.

Known for having one of the worst gender equality rankings in the world, Japan ranks 120th out of 156 countries in the 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. I believe that gender equality is not only a matter of fairness and social justice, but it also makes good business sense. Diverse teams and inclusive workplace cultures lead to better decision-making, creativity, and innovation. It is important to create opportunities for women to succeed and thrive in the workplace and to challenge gender stereotypes and biases.

Being a relatively young female CEO in Japan is important because visibility matters. When male executives see I am a successful leader, it helps to minimize bias they may have against women in executive roles, as we have always struggled as a nation with gender equality. It is also important for younger women to see a female at the helm: “If you can see her, you can be her.” I am committed to amplifying other female leaders and always strive for equality in the events we organize. We aim for the equal composition of men and women on the main stage and share their perspectives to show a balanced view.

It has been proven in countless research studies and analyses that diverse perspectives lead to innovation, faster and more effective business results, and employee loyalty and retention. This is a powerful — and free — tool to foster business growth. Helping women achieve the same successful outcomes as men is important to me personally, as I want to help the next generation have an easier time achieving their potential than it has been for me and those who came before me.

I feel the SeeHer mission is critical to shift perspectives of women’s capabilities and the roles we play in society. We generally believe what we see, and if we only see women in supporting roles, like in charge of domestic responsibilities, or as “attractive things” for the pleasure of men, it is more difficult for us to step into our own power.

SeeHer is a great initiative that can help companies and organizations adopt best practices and strategies for promoting gender equity in the workplace. By showcasing positive portrayals of women in media and advertising, SeeHer can help shift cultural norms and promote gender equality. I believe that SeeHer can leverage its influence and resources to make a positive impact on gender equity in the industry.

Looking back at the Comexposium Brand Summit in March, attendees expressed interest in moving gender equality forward. Many attendees shared their own experiences and challenges in promoting gender equity in their organizations, and there was a shared commitment to making a positive impact. Key takeaways included the importance of leadership commitment, the need to challenge unconscious biases, and the value of data and measurement in driving change. Having SeeHer present the Gender Equality Measure® (GEM®) and all their tools and insights into how to embed gender equality in the media ecosystem helped to give our attendees a blueprint on how we could bring gender equality best practices to Japan. I believe that by sharing insights and collaborating across industries, it is possible to create a more gender-equal and inclusive society.

I would advise all conference attendees to build their network with people who do not look like them. Focus on ideas, efforts, and potential, regardless of gender. Be open to different perspectives, as it is not only good for humanity, but it’s great for the bottom line.

About SeeHer

SeeHer is a global coalition of committed marketers, media leaders, agencies and industry influencers united in the mission to increase the accurate portrayal of women and girls in marketing, advertising, media, and entertainment, so they see themselves as they truly are and in all their potential. Led by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), in partnership with The Female Quotient (The FQ), SeeHer has become the industry’s leading global voice for gender equality in advertising and media. To help benchmark success, in 2016 SeeHer developed the Gender Equality Measure (GEM®), the first research methodology that quantifies gender bias in ads and programming. GEM® has become the global measurement standard, measuring 200,000+ ads, representing 87 percent of worldwide ad spend. SeeHer also developed #WriteHerRight Guides to encourage content creators to address potential blind spots and unconscious biases and integrate more authentic and nuanced depictions of women into their work. To address the specific inequities in the sports and music industries, SeeHer launched two verticals: SeeHer in Sports and SeeHer Hear Her. Gender equality and intersectionality in advertising and media is an imperative. It is good for business and good for society.


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