UPDATE 1-Japan's Recruit targets 50% female executives within 10 years

(Adds executive comment)

TOKYO, May 17 (Reuters) - Staffing agency Recruit Holdings Co Ltd said on Monday it aims to have women in half of its senior executive roles within 10 years, setting an industry-leading target in Japan where corporate leaders are overwhelmingly male.

Women currently make up 10% of senior executives, 42% of managers and 52% of total employees at Recruit, which in recent years acquired employment sites Glassdoor and Indeed as part of an overseas expansion drive.

“As a human resources business its our duty to target gender parity,” Recruit’s new Chief Executive Hisayuki Idekoba told reporters.

Recruit already defies many traditional corporate norms with employees at the holding company on average aged 37 and having worked for the company for less than six years in a departure from the custom of lifetime employment.

Currently only two of Recruit’s top executives are women - its chief operating officer and the head of public relations.

It has taken 15 years to bring the ratio of female managers to current levels, Idekoba said. He added that increasing representation in higher corporate echelons depends on action from early stage recruitment and a pipeline of candidates.

The target was announced as Recruit reported a 20% fall in operating profit to 163 billion yen ($1.49 billion) in the year ended March as the COVID-19 pandemic hit hiring activity.

Recruit forecast operating profit of 180-245 billion yen in the current financial year, reflecting uncertainty over the speed of the vaccination rollout and economic bounceback.

$1 = 109 yen Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing