Hiring and promoting talented women is the right thing to do for society – and it's an economic imperative for Japan. According to the Cabinet Office, Japan's population will decline at least 30percent through 2060 – from 127 million people in 2013 to 87 million in less than half a century.
Closing the gender gap is also the right thing to do for our customers: women are considered "influencers" on 80 percent of all new-car purchases, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. That means they either buy the vehicle outright or have "veto power" on a man's purchase – in four out of five new-car purchases globally.
To increase its appeal to women, Nissan last year launched its "Ladies First" retail programme. At Ladies First dealerships, we employ double or triple the usual number of women in staff positions. Our Fuchu flagship features stylish interiors, a nursing room and a spacious area where children can play, and is aimed at making the shopping experience more welcoming to women and first-time buyers. Nissan will roll out 300 Ladies First dealerships across Japan by the end of fiscal year 2015.
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In France, we are integrating women at the engineering and design level. For the first time in the Alliance, we created a product team for the Renault Captur evenly split between men and women. Half of the team members dedicated to the crossover's engineering, design, marketing and sales were women, the highest for any Renault car. Captur is now Europe's most popular compact crossover.
Hiring women is good for Japan, good for our company and good for the global economy. Companies with at least one woman on the board have a higher return on equity than those without women, according to a Credit Suisse report.
We encourage the Abe administration to stick to its aggressive targets and provide transparent updates about its progress. We look forward to the time when Renault-Nissan – and Japan – have fully closed the gender gap.
Carlos Ghosn is the Chairman of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a partner of the World Economic Forum's Gender Parity Programme.