Capital Calls: the flops of the one-woman show in Japan

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A woman walks out of a branch of Nomura Securities in Tokyo on June 25, 2012. Nomura Holdings CEO Kenichi Watanabe faces shareholders on Wednesday with no clear answer on how to resolve a damaging insider trading investigation that strikes the affairs of Japan’s largest brokerage house and raised doubts about its leadership. Photo taken June 25, 2012.

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XX BRANDS SPOT. Progress in diversity is not always linear. While the number of female executives is increasing in Japan, investors are not yet reaping the benefits. Over five years, the return on investment for Topix 500 companies with all male directors was more than a percentage point higher than those with at least one female on the board, according to an analysis by the CLSA analyst Nicholas Smith.

Having more women has helped. When at least a quarter of the plank is female, go back and jump. The study is part of previous research suggesting that many female voices are needed before the benefits become apparent.

The numbers could also betray a tendency towards symbolism. While Japanese mid-level managers remain somewhat homogeneous, companies are looking for new directors further afield. A race car driver and astronaut Learn More brought the feminine touch to Nissan Motor (7201.T) and Fujitsu (6702.T). Such a creative hunt may tick a box, but it is not a substitute for training and recruiting the best candidates for the board. (By Katrina Hamlin)

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