Have you heard of ikuboss? A portmanteau term derived from the Japanese word ikuji 育児, meaning "child care" and the English loan word "boss," ikuboss イクボス designates corporate managers who provide good and supportive condition for fathers at work. First proposed by the NPO Fathering Japan in March 2014, it was soon followed by the government's launch of the Ikuboss Award to recognize exemplary ikuboss behavior.

The 10 principles of ikuboss according to NPO Fathering Japan are:

  • Understanding: You understand the current circumstances relating to child-rearing in today's society as well as the importance for employees to spend time on raising their children.
  • Diversity: You operate your company with an understanding of diversity and do not discriminate against employees who spend time on child-rearing.
  • Knowledge: You know you company's policies (on childcare leave, etc.) and national laws (Labor Standards Act, etc.).
  • Promotion within your organization: You do not neglect employees' private life and widely and actively promote spending time on child-rearing within the organization you manage (for example, your division if you're a division manager)
  • Consideration: You give the utmost consideration when making personnel decisions which greatly impact employees' private lives such as transfers with family and solo assignments away from family.
  • Business operation: Even when employees take childcare leave, you take all measures possible to ensure that business operations run smoothly within your organization, such as sharing information, promoting teamwork and using mobile or cloud solutions.
  • Creating time: To make it easier for employees to spend time on child-rearing, you promote such measures as reducing meetings and documents, streamlining decision making and introducing flexible hours.
  • Recommending: You recommend management that values employees' private lives (child-rearing time) to HR and other managers within your company.
  • Do what you say: You strive to demonstrate that companies and organizations where ikuboss work improve their business performance, thereby promoting the ikuboss movement within society.
  • Start with yourself: You value your work-life balance and enjoy your life.

Nagasaki Prefecture's Ikuboss Campaign

Nagasaki Prefecture has recently stepped up its efforts to promote ikuboss, launching a new campaign complete with a promotional video starring actor Lou Ohshiba and a flyer featuring a self-diagnostic questionnaire for managers to assess their ikuboss-ness.

Although Nagasaki Prefecture has made improvements over the last decade, the ratio of men to women when it comes to employees taking childcare leave still lags behind many other regions of the country. For example, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Statistic Bureau of Japan, a comparison between Nagasaki City and the urban area combining Kawasaki and Yokohama cities in Kanagawa Prefecture reveals the following: Out of the 3,900 people who took childcare leave in the Nagasaki City area, 10% (400) were men and 90% (3,500) were women. By comparison, out of the 77,000 people who took childcare leave in Kawasaki and Yokohama area, 21% (15,800) were men and 79% (61,100) were women.

With this new campaign, Nagasaki Prefecture hopes to create a more balanced picture, allowing more male employees to take advantage of childcare leave, thereby helping to foster an environment where everyone can work happily.

Campaign Flyer

Nagasaki Prefecture has created a campaign flyer through which managers can conduct a self-diagnosis to see how much of an ikuboss they are. We've translated it into English so you can try it out for yourself! The first page has fourteen questions, the first seven of which are counted as stars and the last seven of which are counted as hearts. Add up your total of stars and hearts.

Please tap or click on the images below to see them larger. (You will need to do so in order to read the English translations)

Courtesy of © Nagasaki Prefecture

On the second page, you'll find out what kind of boss you are depending on how you answered the questions.

Courtesy of © Nagasaki Prefecture

Promotional Video

There's also a promotional video starring actor Lou Ohshiba which explains the concept of ikuboss and illustrates it through a series of short scenes at an office.

Courtesy of © Nagasaki Prefecture

Through this video, Nagasaki Prefecture hopes that viewers who may (either consciously or unconsciously) have stereotyped perceptions of gender roles will understand the need for men to participate in housework and child-rearing, realize that this is a problem which needs to be addressed, and thus feel inspired to take action (such as showing consideration for employees' needs at the office, and participating themselves in housework and child-rearing).

If you'd like to see the video for yourself, please click on the following link.

By - Ben K.

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