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Yesterday, November 8, we hosted session #9 of Davos Experience in Tokyo series.  The topic this time is “How can we have both good career and good family life?”  We had some 40 people joining us at the venue, half of whom came to this series for the first time. (I personally think this is great, as I want to expand the base of people who are interested in discussing/sharing their views in English.)

11.8davosyexplaining game1 1.8_oWhen I welcomed participants, I mentioned that “empowering women” has been discussed and debated lately as the Abe Administration proposed it as one of the pillars of Japan’s Growth Strategy.  I also mentioned that for this session, I want to broaden the topic into two directions-1) This issue of career/family is NOT limited to women.  Japan has been notorious for long work hours (to be exact 1728 hrs/year compared with 1625 for UK and 1476 for France) but relatively low labor productivity (US$41.6/hr compared with $60.2 for the US and $57.7 for France).  Both men and women work long hours, which leads to much less time to spend for family/private life.

The other I focused was 2) to go beyond discussion to ACTION.  We have discussed the issue for two decades or so, but we want to DO something ourselves to move forward.  I showed brief video clip from TEDx discussing “Off balance on purpose” to get started the breakout sessions.

breakout2 11.8oTwo questions I asked each group to discuss were 1) Biggest facilitators(probably supporters was a better term)/biggest obstacles for career/family?  2) What do WE DO to resolve it?

We had eight groups each consist of 5  to 7 members which  set out discussion. We also tried to hold online discussion with some 10 people (with 3 facilitators at the venue), but online discussion was cut very short as we had so much technical problem connecting. Our apologies to those who have registered to join online. We will figure out the better way next time.

After about 45 min. discussion in breakout groups, each group reported back.

Obstacles included

Corporate level- Evaluation system (focus on hours, and not output), Bosses, Business custom (more of unwritten rule)   Overtime work as “norm”

Society level- Mindset, Peer pressure(come from both men and women), Work ethic, Few childcare facilities, Need for elderly care, Lack of role model (both men & women)

Individual level- Communication(speak up), Guilt feeling, Self confidence,

reportback1 11.8Action to resolve the issue

Corporate level- Evaluation system focusing on output, & not age, gender etc. Limit on overtime work, Overtime pay change, Labor law, Workflow redesign, Flexible work-work at home, Inclusion of family, Let boss go home early!

Government/society- New job/new industries for more, different career opportunities, Labor law change, Child care facilities, Immigration, Affirmative action, Role model, Information sharing/networking

Individual- More confidence, Determination to work for life, More men joining child care, Change mindset, Encourage others/support system, Time management

These are familiar items, but I thought that participants were very interested in DOING something themselves, rather than waiting for the government/companies to do.  (Probably we learned a lesson from our experiences over the past decade or so.)

I closed the session by saying that we CAN do a lot ourselves such as developing our skills so that we are not replaceable,  share information with others, encourage each other, speak up and practice.  I also mentioned that my own  objective of hosting this type of event is for many people to have as many opportunities as possible to express their view freely, share them and develop better /workable solutions together.  I believe it is the spirit of Davos experience in Tokyo series.

We did some game at the end to increase the communication opportunities in even smaller groups for the first time. As I had trouble stopping the conversation, I suppose they enjoyed it.   After the session, networking event followed at the nearby care where I met with new people!  It was fun night….

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  • Comments (6)

  1. What a fabulous first time experience this was for me to interact with an outstanding group of young professionals. This is an excellent forum for networking and expanding one’s English competence. I’m an Abe Fellow and Visiting Professor from the US doing a project on Japan’s global image since 3.11. I try to go to as many public talks and gatherings like this that I can. I approach my research as a scholar/learner; in other words, I do not pretend to be an expert on Japan or its future regarding career/family choices, but I do hope to produce a work (book, possibly documentary film) someday that will do justice to the real life issues facing the Japanese. I truly respect all that has been taught to me so far from those who have graciously engaged with me.

    • Patty Nameishi
    • November 9th, 2013

    Sounds very interesting! Please let me know about future events. Im very interested in this subject

    • Yuka Homan
    • November 10th, 2013

    Thank you very much for uploading'”Career and Family” session. I was going to attend this event, but unfortunately didn’t make it for some unexpected extra work I had to deal with on that day. I hope I can join you in the near future.

    • Yoko Ishikura
    • November 11th, 2013

    Nancy, this is Yoko. Thanks for your kind words. It was great to have you. Please join us again.

    • Yoko Ishikura
    • November 11th, 2013

    Patty, this is Yoko. Thanks for your interest. Will announce the future events on my blog and our website. http://www.davostokyo.com

    • Yoko Ishikura
    • November 11th, 2013

    Yuka san, this is Yoko. Thanks for your comment. We will continue this series. So please join us next time and in 2014!

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