Men dominate Japanese game development, but at least one publisher is getting proactive about altering that stereotype.
Street Fighter publisher Capcom released an annual report about the state of its business this month, and the company took a moment in that document to discuss its role in improving the working lives of women. In addition to highlighting the growth of game industry revenues, the potential of online games in Asia, and refined development strategies, Capcom noted the changes it has made over the last couple of years to ensure it is respecting its women employees. Japan, nationwide, has made strides in reducing discrimination against women in the workplace following a number of laws that prohibit the practice, but some are still leaving their careers after a few years due to a number of Japanese cultural conventions that are especially difficult on new mothers.
As a Japan Times report explains, Capcom’s home country is known for extremely long working hours and a lack of child-care options. Those norms force women, who are the primary caregivers for children in typical Japanese society, to choose between their jobs and their kids. On top of that, companies sometimes attempt to harass women to convince them to quit instead of taking maternity leave.
Capcom, however, is making moves to counter and dismantle each of those discriminatory practices.
“Capcom is engaged in improving the employment environment for women, promoting projects in which both women and men participate, and the proactive hiring of non-Japanese employees,” reads the publisher’s report. “In particular, with respect to improving the employment environment for women, we have introduced systems that promote utilization of paid leave before and after childbirth, childcare leave, and shortened working hours. In fiscal 2016, we promoted the establishment of children facilities within the company.”
Of course, making a workplace more welcoming to women is not only about giving benefits to mothers. Not all women are mothers. But the unfair pressures put on women who choose to start a family is one of the more glaring issues in Japan, and Capcom is fixing that first.
And Capcom needs to do something. Women compose 43 percent of the labor pool in Japan, but that figure is a lot smaller for the Monster Hunter company. Only 20 percent of its staff are women, and women hold only 10.3 percent of management positions at the publisher. When it comes to the “man’s world” that is game development in Japan, those numbers likely aren’t out of the ordinary, but it illustrates a clear gap where Capcom’s new policies could make a difference.