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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Diversity will be key to survival for 21st century businesses, Ghosn says


Staff writer

OSAKA -- Businesses that want to survive in the 21st century will have to embrace diversity in a practical way, with clear goals for hiring more women and using talented young people and older workers, Nissan Motor Co. chief Carlos Ghosn said Friday.

The Nissan president and chief executive officer, speaking as part of a public discussion with Osaka Gov. Fusae Ohta at the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said any step to increase diversity must have the enthusiastic support of upper management.

"If the top is not convinced of the importance of diversity, it won't work because nobody in the company will take it seriously," Ghosn said. "The CEO and the top managers have to explain why diversity is important to the company. Not with grand theories and concepts, but with realistic targets and practical examples."

Achieving diversity through the inclusion of more women in the decision-making process and the sales force is especially important for dealing with customers in the domestic auto market, Ghosn said.

"Six million cars are sold in Japan each year. Of these, 4 million are purchased by women, either alone or in consultation with their husbands," he said. "Women want comfort, safety, and environmental friendliness, whereas men want technology. If we ignore the demands of female customers, two-thirds of Japan's car market is closed to us."

The theme of the dialogue between Ghosn and Ohta was diversity, and both had a lot to say on corporations employing more women as well as talented older and younger workers as Japan's population declines in the coming years.

Ghosn cautiously referred to hiring foreign workers, a contentious issue among Osaka businesspeople and one Ohta studiously avoided.



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