UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Legitimizing family-supportive contexts in globally-affiliated financial advisory firms in Tokyo, Japan Harada Bannister, Alice


State-level legislative efforts to address the persisting M-curve pattern in female labour force participation in Japan are not translating into widespread implementation and uptake of work-family policies. While it has been established that the gendered norms of the male ideal worker and female primary caregiver are entrenched in the Japanese workplace and significantly impede the compatibility of motherhood and work, few have investigated how the globalization of business is impacting the influence of such norms. Or subsequently, how this affects policy uptake by working mothers. Drawing on document analysis of organizational and nationally-mandated work-family policies, as well as 13 in-depth interviews with professional working mothers at three leading globally-affiliated financial advisory firms in Tokyo, this study examines how women engage in multi-level translation and use of work-family policies. Document analysis of national legislations and the multi-national work-family policies of one of the organizations found that the policies of their Japanese offices corresponded fully to the national legislative framework. Despite this alignment, narratives revealed that the women leveraged the presence of international work values and practices in their workplace to justify their use of progressive work-family policies. The working mothers engaged with policies based on the “global” institutional, social and ideological resources that they perceived as safeguarding their careers. Their use of these resources was interdependent with presumptions of what constituted “local” and “global” values and their association of the international with gender equity and modernity. This study argues that these women used these strategies to legitimate a way of working that recognizes the demands of parenting, thus, exposing possibilities of the legitimization of work-family policies in different cultural contexts.

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