Entrepreneurship can come with many challenges, especially as women who continue to face adversities in the world of business. Though this is a global challenge, women in Japan are especially hindered by the gender gap present in the workplace. Despite being a country known for its progressive innovations and technological advancements, Japan placed 120th in World Economic Forum’s ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2021’, 10 ranks down from 2019, speculated as the result of COVID-19. Despite the setbacks, female entrepreneurship has begun growing at a rapid rate in the past few years, especially in Japan.
The largest issue that seems to be present in pursuing female entrepreneurship in Japan is the lack of mentorship and networking opportunities that women are able to participate in. Aside from the business world globally being catered towards men, women in Japan are entrusted with the responsibility of childcare, domestic chores, and nursing their elderly parents. The result of these three factors creates a challenging environment for women in Japan to pursue entrepreneurship. During an interview with Japan Times, Mizuki Nakajima, CEO of coly Inc. explained how “Female entrepreneurs face hurdles as there are few female seniors whom they can consult about starting and operating businesses”. In order to combat this issue, many successful female CEOs have started up organizations and communities in order to provide mentorship and guidance to upcoming female entrepreneurs.
Women in Law Japan (WILJ), an example of one of these organizations, is a platform for women in legal professions to network in Japan. The importance of networking and building connections is shared with the president of WILJ, Catherine O’Connell, whom we’ve had the opportunity to interview in the past. Aside from starting Japan’s first lawyer-led legal podcast program, she also started her own boutique law firm in Tokyo, winning an Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2020. When asked for advice to share with kay me readers, O’Connell shared her three tips all centered around the most crucial aspect -networking. These three tips covered the value of every connection, the importance of maintaining connections without burning bridges, and stepping out of your comfort zone especially in the introductory stage.
Click here read about Catherine’s professional background as well as tips and tricks on networking:
So where do you start with becoming an entrepreneur and networking in Japan? The first step is to dress for success and attend networking opportunities and events! As Catherine shares in the second part of the interview, dressing for work, especially in Japan, is a “mark of respect not only to ourselves but to the person we are meeting with or the event we are attending”. She even shared with us how in true, respectful fashion she makes sure to dress professionally from head to toe even during online video meetings even if the person on the other end cannot see the full outfit.
Investing in a classic jacket and a matching skirt or trousers can create a number of looks that can be used for multiple networking events, whether in person or online. When networking in Japan, we recommend soft, timeless colors such as navy, beige, and gray. The kay me Double Jersey Beige Tailored Jacket pairs perfectly with its matching Wrap Skirt to create an effortless suit set. Dare to be a bit bold by wearing a patterned top inside the suit, or aim for a chic look with a solid colored blouse accented with colored accessories for a vibrant pop. As per Catherine’s advice on dressing for online meetings, no need to worry about comfort or wrinkles when seated in your kay me suit as all of our items are stretchy, wrinkle-resistant, and easy care!
To read more tips from Catherine on how to dress, and for an exciting glimpse into her personal life: