Connect
To Top
 

Japan and China Breaking Ancient Sexist Tradition

In the business world, it is common to pass ownership of the business from father to the eldest son, simply to ensure that management remains under the family name. In Japan, fathers may go one step further if they don’t have a son — adopting one that they trust. The practice is entrenched in Japan’s ancient civil code, and while the code has since changed, the practice has not.

As a matter of fact, the practice is so common that 98 percent of adoptions in Japan are a result of this civil code, rather than families adopting newborn children. It is usually paired with a legal arranged marriage (known as “omiai“) and results in the adopted son changing his last name to that of the family’s, which is known as “mukoyoshi.” The practice has even become a business, with matchmaking companies springing up to match businesses with prospective adoptive “sons.”

If anything, the practice could continue to grow at an exponential rate due to the ever-increasing number of Japanese citizens over the age of 65. The generation meant to reproduce and raise the next generation is instead choosing the corporate life over that of a personal one, and it’s estimated that by 2060, 45 percent of the Japanese population could be over 65. Instead of producing their own children, Japanese higher-ups might simply just adopt them at the unusual age of about thirty.

The same thing can be seen in China: because of the country’s one-child policy, companies have resorted to “adopting” their own sons.

“No Chinese man would want to change his name,” says Annie Koh, who is a professor of finance at Singapore Management University. “But if the family firm is fixated with their own surname, in rare cases you have found a man who will change his name.”

While a good number of companies are steadfast in their methods of adopting sons to run the next generation of their family businesses, an increasing number of women are beginning to take part in the tradition as well. Because there are fewer children being born, the option to have a woman take on the helm is becoming increasingly common. In EY’s (Earnst & Young) 2017 Women in Leadership report, 70 percent of family businesses reported that they were considering a woman for their next chief executive.

“It dramatically increases family talent pools, helps with succession planning and can make firms more sustainable,” says Adam Rowse, the head of business banking at Barclays. “It also helps avoid situations where a son feels a particular obligation to work in the family firm when they would prefer another career.”

Results are already being seen in the workplace: in a survey done by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 30 percent of the women interviewed had a seat on the board of their family business. In the same survey, more than 50 percent of the women interviewed did not think their gender was a barrier to their ability to run the family business.

Companies are also seeing the diversification in gender as an opportunity to better as a business. “There’s a strong emphasis on professionalising their governance, making sure they have a clear strategy and that the succession plan is based on skills and not gender,” says Sian Steele, the head of PwC’s family business group in the UK.

The goal in itself is two-tiered: continue the family business, but also diversify it by allowing women to take a larger part in the business. If companies can succeed in both, then the future is bound to be prosperous and creative.

Featured Image by Alejandro on Flickr

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Be Informed

  • Naomi Osaka Advocates for Racial Justice

    Learn about how star tennis player, Naomi Osaka, shows her social activism and support to racial justice on the court.

    Lydia SchapiroSeptember 16, 2020
  • Sustainability at Home

    Cultivating sustainability in the home is easier than you think! Learn about the easy ways to make your home more eco-friendly....

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 27, 2020
  • How Will College Change in the Fall?

    Keep reading to learn about the question marks surrounding the coming semester.

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 26, 2020
  • Egypt Making Strides Toward Equality

    Egypt took a step further in the direction of women’s rights a few days ago, approving a law that would protect...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 21, 2020
  • Black Mothers: The Risk of Giving Birth

    Serena Williams was not the first black woman to be ignored by her doctor post-partum. Black mothers consistently balance the joy...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 14, 2020
  • No More Bumps: 5 Steps to Smooth Skin

    Ladies, it’s hard to feel nice and smooth after shaving when ingrown hairs and bumps immediately take the spotlight. However, not...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 13, 2020
  • Healthy Social Media Use

    Social media presence has increased for decades, remaining incredibly prevalent in everyday life. Cultivate healthy habits by learning about the effects...

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 12, 2020
  • No Woman was Surprised by What Happened to AOC

    A few weeks ago, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was insulted by Representative Ted Yoho being called a “f—ing bitch” and “dangerous.” Afterwards,...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 12, 2020
  • The Meaning Behind #ChallengeAccepted

    Recently, a trend has surfaced on Instagram where women nominate one another privately to post a black and white picture of...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 11, 2020
  • Why Anti-feminism can be Fatal

    Recently, New Jersey Federal Judge Esther Salas and her family were attacked resulting in the loss of her son and injury...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 7, 2020