The Founding of Kigen Corporation and the Background and Purposes of KigenW
Eight years ago I founded Harmony Residence Inc., which is a staff agency that brings together over 200 SMEs and large-scale enterprises with talented women who are role models and candidates for management and executive roles. It was then that I realized that there were so many missed opportunities for these companies and talented women candidates.
Both the women seeking management and executive roles and the companies looking to make hires like these women were faced with challenges that were unresolvable with existing measures.
Companies were struggling with issues such as 1) not having invested in the professional development of women already working in the company, 2) mismatched new hires due to the poorly listed job descriptions/requirements, 3) and in many cases companies rushed to fill positions in a short period of time.
Women executive candidates also face challenges including 1) difficulty breaking into new fields not listed on their resumes, 2) missing out on opportunities to reach their full potential due to factors (age, sex) unrelated to their capabilities, 3) and lacking opportunities to expand their professional networks as well as very few options due to limited recruiting resources.
When experienced and talented women leave the workforce, it is not only a huge economic loss for companies but also for society as a whole. Women make up half of Japan’s workforce, which is experiencing a sharp decline in young labor. If women continue to fall through the employment cracks, Japan’s economy will likely find it even harder to sustain itself.
In a bid to prevent this from occurring, it is vital that we promptly establish organizational frameworks that map out clear and feasible career paths for young women employees. What we also need is to have role models who are women management and executives successfully balancing their family and professional lives.
Statistics show that the fiscal performance of companies with a high share of women executives significantly exceeds the performance of companies with a low percentage of female executives. An increase in the ratio of women in the workplace activates consumption, generates revenue for companies and creates more new jobs. And this in turn creates positive economic results for companies, males, females, children, seniors and foreign nationals.
However, there is little change in terms of Japan’s gender gap, with the country ranking 105th out of 136 countries in categories such as existing recruiting methods and existing perceptions regarding changing jobs.
To this end we established Kigen Corporation in a bid to promote the flow of talent in the workforce through a completely new shift in perceptions, and to contribute to companies’ global strategies. Kigen, which means ‘the beginning of a new era”, will continue to push for female advancement, which is also a national policy of the federal administration.
Changing existing recruiting methods and existing perceptions regarding changing jobs
KigenW Women Executives Online Forum
- Resolves issue of mismatched hires due to the poorly listed job requirements and mediation
When hires are made through go-betweens, the process is drawn out and arbitrary judgments are made if there are numerous candidates involved, making it very difficult to find the candidate that meets the hiring executive’s requirements. Candidates are also swayed by their own personal feelings, agendas, and sentiments towards the intermediary, meaning that their true capabilities are not always visible to hiring executives. The more third parties that are involved in the recruiting process, the further candidates are from hiring executives’ ideals and requirements, resulting in a greater chance of poorly-matched hires.
- Inability to unearth truly talented women candidates
Women’s careers take on a different path to their male counterparts. The true capabilities of even the most talented women often go unearthed when evaluating them according to the career paths of men in the workforce. This is particularly the case with women executive candidates.
The current reality is that talented women candidates go undiscovered because the recruiting system is set up to favor physical stamina based on the assumption of long working hours. It is becoming increasingly difficult to unearth talented candidates with skill sets that cater to today’s needs using conventional methods of setting recruit requirements. If we can shift perceptions of recruiting conditions, we can unearth a large pool of executive candidates who have the skills to succeed in today’s global market and who are among the large number of talented women professionals who are yet to be discovered.
- An age of direct engagement and building your own professional network
In this digital day and age, IT is closing the distance in time, geographies and between people, meaning that we can communicate directly with people in all corners of the globe. When this happens, our presentation and communications skills are of utmost importance. No matter how talented someone is, if they are incapable of communicating this, they will not make it in the global corporate world. KigenW is a platform where people can promote themselves and communicate directly with each other, which is the method of interaction in this digital age. Moving forward, we are entering an age when the people who develop their own professional networks will be the ones to secure jobs that allow them to truly shine.
- Leverage digital resources and discover the endless array of possibilities
These days, with the rapidly evolving and changing world that we live in, it is impossible to achieve one’s goals without using IT. Thanks to IT, we can now reach people all over Japan and the world, with unlimited access that extends to a global scale. With this increased access, the possibilities for both companies and individuals are endless. KigenW Women Executives Online offers win-win solutions for both companies and individual candidates.
- Companies and Candidates need a shift in perceptions
This is a time when the speed at which a business develops depends on the extent to which one has taken the time in advance to build relationships based on trust with their staff. For instance, KigenW allows members to ascertain the talents and skill sets of individual members, provide them with input and then engage in communication directly with them while building trust. Then, when starting a new business endeavor and the need arises, members can directly approach these candidates with whom they have already established a trusting relationship, before any other company. Building a network of talent in advance and not looking for recruits only when the need arises–companies that can shift their mindset to this new perception will succeed even in terms of global strategy.
This rings true for candidates who unexpectedly lose their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control such as their company’s poor performance, restructuring, or downsizing. Once they find themselves in this situation, it is too late to start looking for work. So, it is necessary for candidates to shift their perceptions as well. They should make it a regular practice to build up and foster trust with their own network of corporate executives from a wide array of industries. They should also widely promote their own talents and skill sets. If they do this, when the time arises that they unexpectedly find themselves looking for work through no fault of their own, they will already have a wide array of choices at their fingertips. And with numerous options available to them, it is less unlikely that they will find themselves as a poorly-matched new hire.
We now live in an era where a myriad of doors will open to those who develop their own network. KigenW is an online platform that supports members to do just that. It provides them with opportunities to build their own networking capabilities, develop their own self-promotion skills, and improve their communications skills. Until now, a passive attitude where people waited for someone to ‘introduce an opportunity’ to them was the norm. However, times have change and people need to go out and develop their own networks and seize their own opportunities. Valuing relationships with others and polishing one’s communications skills will boost one’s chances in the workforce. By leveraging our new tool, KigenW Women Executives Online, we hope that corporate executives and talented women can interact and work to support each other for their mutual benefit.
Lastly, I would like to share with you our vision.
Our vision is to support corporations and individuals in paving their own futures.
We strive to promote the mobility of human resources,
to contribute to corporate global strategies,
and to support individuals in reaching their full potential.
Freedom = being in control of your own destiny
Authenticity = remaining true to yourself
Integrity = being reliable and trustworthy
Respect = and always showing others nothing but respect.
As the first step in realizing our vision, we established KigenW Women Executives Online, which is an exclusive members-only online platform for women executives and professionals to interact and exchange ideas with corporate executives. We are committed to providing a valuable service to our members and we ask for your continued support moving forward.
Makiko Tachimori (Fukui)