Preferential treatment for bidders offering good work-life balance

Nikkei Online (J) reports that the government's Women's Economic Participation Promotion office  (subete no josei ga kagayaku shakai dukuri honbu), chaired by PM Abe, has adopted a new policy related to government procurement. From the start of the new fiscal year in it will implement a new measure where companies that promote a good life-work balance to female participation are given preferential treatment in public procurement tenders. 


Measure part of overall greatest value method (OVG)

The measure will become part of the method used to assess bids on other factor than just price, the overall greatest value method (OVG), this method is often used in product and service-development and construction related tenders. Companies with a higher ration of female managers and higher ratios of employees who take leave for child-care will receive additional points in the assessment of their bids. However the number of points awarded will be left to each individual ministry. The Cabinet Office expects that 50 to 60 thousand contracts per year will fall under the new measure, with a total worth of 5 trillion yen (approx. €39 billion).

Faced with rapid ageing, a declining population and prevailing negative attitudes towards immigration, increasing larger labor market participation by women and a better balance between work and private life are regarded as one of the central policies by the Abe government.  Thus far many women tend to stop working full time when establishing a family or decide not to have children at all to build a career.  Also employees tend to be reluctant to ask for childrearing leave out of fear to lose on promotion or criticism by colleagues.

While large enterprises will probably have the resources to ensure these favorable conditions, Japanese SME are likely to have more conservative views on this issue.