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Eneos is looking for female directors following harassment scandals

Japanese oil refiner Eneos Holdings is looking to add more female directors – and outside board members – as it strives to improve diversity and respond to a series of sexual harassment cases.

The producer has nominated four women and seven outside directors who will be elected by shareholders at an annual meeting next month to a smaller board with ten seats. According to data collected by Bloomberg, the boardrooms of Japan’s 10 largest companies have an average of 21% women.

“There will be no future for the company without diversity,” Tomohide Miyata, who was named president in April, said in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s incredibly concerning to have a monoculture structure.”

An effort to improve governance follows the departure of three executives over harassment issues. Ex-president Takeshi Saito was fired last year for inappropriate behavior toward an unknown woman. In 2022, Tsutomu Sugimori resigned as chairman and CEO following allegations of sexual harassment against a female employee at a hostess club.

The chairman of Eneos’ sustainable energy unit was fired in February for sexual harassment.

The government and the main stock exchange have urged companies to do more to diversify their boards to strengthen governance, and have suggested that at least a third of the board should be external.

Under the planned changes, Eneos would reduce the size of the existing fourteen-member board, which currently consists of twelve men, two women and six members from outside the company.

The company will also consider adding more non-Japanese directors as another step toward greater diversity, Miyata said.

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