Opening up the future, together ー P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

22 March 2023

Opening up the future, together ー P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

116th place in the Global Gender Gap index (2022), and the ratio of female CEO/President, 8.2% (※Teikoku Databank “Japan Female CEO Analysis Report” 2022) – the world of management in Japan is still far from gender equality. To bring change in reality faced by women entrepreneurs in Japan who do not have sufficient opportunities to expand their businesses and enter global supply chains, P&G Japan, WeConnect International and TBWA\HAKUHODO have jointly carried out the “P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (hereafter referred to as “P&G Academy”)” since 2020. This program offers a curriculum that would strengthen various management skills necessary for business success and share the business know-how of P&G.

This year’s program which kicked off on 28th February and will continue for two months, will again feature executives and leaders of P&G Japan who will provide tips on leadership, marketing communications, promoting E&I (equality and inclusion), and other skills that will help the entrepreneurs’ succeed in business and grow their companies. In addition to the lectures, there will be opportunities for active communication and interaction so that participants can network with each other closely.

We talked to Ms. Haruna Shiga (Market Operation Purchase, Purchasing Senior Manager of P&G Japan), a P&G Japan representative who has been involved in the planning and operation of the P&G Academy since its inception, about the thoughts put into the P&G Academy. We also asked the three participants of last year about their impressions of the P&G Academy and how they have been applying the learnings since then!

P&G Japan member Interview

Opening up the future, together ー P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

Raising diversity throughout the supply chain to lead to social innovation

Q. P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs is a global project. Tell us what led P&G to start this program on a global scale.

Image from: P&G

Image from: P&G “2022 CITIZENSHIP REPORT” (p.3) (

→ P&G promotes “Citizenship” as one of the main corporate activities, which has four major pillars: Equality & Inclusion (E&I), Environmental Sustainability, Community Impact, and Corporate Ethics and Responsibility. As a company, we believe that it is our responsibility and duty to not only pursue business growth, but also to promote citizenship activities based on these four pillars through collaboration with our products, brands, P&G employees, and suppliers & partners.

Under “E&I”, we are working to create an organization where each and every diverse employee can further maximize their abilities through the promotion of inclusion, gender equality, LGBTQ+ support, and so on with the three pillars of “culture,” “systems,” and “skills.” The P&G Academy is one of the activities under E&I pillar to promote gender equality.

Especially P&G emphasizes “Supplier diversity,” improving the diversity of our suppliers and business partners. P&G has suppliers around the world, and we believe that when diversity is promoted throughout the supply chain, such as the companies where the decision makers are reflecting the diversity of the society, it will lead to innovation in our suppliers, which in turn will spread innovation within P&G’s products and brands, leading us to become and stay as a trusted brand by the consumers. This is why the P&G Academy is carried out by the Purchasing Department, which works with suppliers on a daily basis.

Q. Tell us the history of the P&G Academy briefly.

→ In the US, the Supplier Diversity Program began in 1976. At that time, the program was not in the form of an academy, nor did it focus solely on women, but rather promoted diversity from a variety of perspectives, including racial and sexual minorities and veterans. Then, in 2017, P&G teamed up with WeConnect International, a global network that connects women-owned businesses with major buyers around the world, to create a full-fledged, worldwide “P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs,” a program to foster women entrepreneurs. The program has been expanded to and implemented in more than 15 countries, including Singapore, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa. P&G Japan started the program in 2020, and this year is our third year.

A place where women entrepreneurs can learn to the fullest, hand in hand.

Q. From planning to project implementation, when do you find it most rewarding?

→I know it must have been difficult for the participants to attend all the sessions, given their busy schedules as business leaders, but they were so passionate in every single session. I was glad when the entrepreneurs told me they were sharing the learnings from the program within their companies and putting them into practice. That was such a rewarding moment, and I was glad that we were given the opportunity to provide something valuable to women entrepreneurs.

A place where the potential of aspiring women expands infinitely

Q. What were the most important points in planning this year’s P&G Academy?

→ We hope that P&G Academy can be an opportunity to expand women entrepreneurs’ business perspectives, business opportunities, and networks among fellow entrepreneurs. For this year’s program, in particular, we will have the final presentation and graduation ceremony face-to-face for the first time. We hope that this face-to-face meeting will strengthen the ties among the participants and provide an opportunity for them to candidly talk about and share the hardships and challenges they have as women entrepreneurs and find hints for the next step, with their peers who had gone through similar situations and challenges.
Also, Members of P&G Japan’s purchasing department and some of the current suppliers of P&G Japan will also attend the presentation session. We hope that it will lead to new business opportunities or innovation and ultimately to the possibility of direct and indirect business with P&G Japan.

Q. Do you have a message for those who are considering joining P&G Academy or for women entrepreneurs in Japan?

→ I believe that there are many challenges that many women entrepreneurs face, but I hope you understand that you are not alone who is facing these challenges, but there are many other women leaders who are going through similar situations and issues. P&G Academy is not just something that P&G teaches one way and participants only listen to. It is an interactive, learning-from-each-other type of program. There could be some hints you can get from P&G’s approach or new insights and opportunities born from networking and communicating with other participants. We believe that this will be one of the opportunities for women entrepreneurs to expand their potential to the fullest and to create good products and a better society.

Comments from Class of 2022 participants

Opening up the future, together ー P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

The written interview was done with these three participants!
・Toyo Trading Co., Ltd., CEO, Kano Kishizawa
・Nihon Mokuzai Co., Ltd., Director, Ai Hasebe
・Pink Rose Co., Ltd., President, Miyuki Hirose

Q. What was the biggest takeaway from last year’s program?

Kishizawa: It gave me a chance to review my company and management from an objective perspective.
Hasebe: I would say the biggest takeaway was “marketing strategy”. I learned that even small companies can take market share by using digital transformation and providing services that pinpoint customers with speed.
Hirose: I was able to learn about P&G’s excellent marketing strategy, which is something I am applying for our own sales strategy and new customer development.

Q. Is there anything that you learned in the program that you still practice today?

Kishizawa: Creating strategies and reviewing the internal environment with an understanding of the “Brand Building Framework”.
Hasebe: “Digital Transformation”. We are starting to steadily build up our e-commerce sales structure. I am applying the branding and marketing techniques I have learned from P&G Academy.
Hirose: As I learned from the Stress Management session, I am now practicing how to better release anger and other daily emotions.

Q. Do you have any comments for those who are interested in applying for the academy this year?

Kishizawa: I hope you join us to broaden your cultural horizons, as you will learn how to think from perspectives you have never been aware of and learn about fields you have not known about.
Hasebe: You will learn top-notch marketing and branding from P&G, WeConnect International, and TBWA\HAKUHODO. Also, the connections I have made with the women entrepreneurs I have met through this program have been invaluable.
Hirose: It is the chance you cannot get from anywhere else to learn P&G’s know-how. I encourage you to learn leading marketing strategies and other management tips at P&G Academy.


Opening up the future, together ー P&G Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

Other participants have commented: “I was able to network with many women business owners I would not normally meet, which was a great stimulus and became an important asset for me,” or “It was truly an encounter with the unknown.”

A place where highly motivated women entrepreneurs can gather and learn to the fullest from the knowledge of leading companies. A place where women entrepreneurs can expand their horizons and worldviews through exposure to new knowledge…We believe such a place will bring a brighter, more diverse and innovative society.

P&G Japan, WeConnect International, and TBWA\HAKUHODO will continue to engage in various activities to support women entrepreneurs with the aim of realizing a society where all people can fulfill their full potential.

Communication team (