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Canon Japan Lets Workers Leave Early to Make Babies

Canon Japan Lets Workers Leave Early to Make Babies

By: Mark Swartz
Canadian Workplace Specialist

There’s real concern in Japan about its demographics: their low fertility rate – 1.34 children per woman– is less than the 2.0 needed to stop shrinking. Plus their population is aging faster than any other country in the world. This leaves many to wonder who’ll be left to fund social programs such as healthcare.

Enter electronics manufacturer Canon to save the day. Innovators to the core, they’re sending home employees early from corporate headquarters in Tokyo, twice a week, to help encourage a baby boomlet. Not easy to foster when the average work day there is 12 hours (not to mention commuting time). A typical conversation in homes at night without early departure from the office:

Wife: “Honey, I love you with my entire heart and soul. Let us produce a child together, reflecting the eternal love between a truly committed couple.”

Husband: “ZZZZZZZZZZZ….”

According to Canadian HR Reporter, Canon’s program is known as “Lights Out” and is just one part of the firm’s birth planning activities. (Among the others – making suggestive origami during breaks?) A number of other large employers in the region are similarly promoting family time to boost fertility rates.

Here at home, where said rate is closer to 1.67 and immigration helps increase our population yearly, our employers are not inclined to see baby making as a priority. But what about Canon Canada? As a global company I’d expect them to offer corresponding perks to local staff. So I checked out their website to see if they’ve inserted subtle hints along these lines.

Now it may not be obvious at first, but there, right in the President’s Message page, I caught a few tantalizing glimpses that I’ve graciously decoded for you. Mr. Kevin Ogawa, President and CEO of Canon Canada, welcomes us to the site. Check out some of the cleverly understated wording he uses, which I’ve taken the liberty of putting into italics for you:

“We are dedicated to providing solutions through innovation and recognize the importance of creating and managing information faster, better and more efficiently.” Hmmm…creating, faster, more efficiently.

“True global companies must foster good relations…” This one speaks for itself.

“They must also bear the responsibility for the impact of their activities on society.” (Bear, as in bear children, eh?)

Well, what’s good for the Japanese goose should be good for the Canadian gander too. Well, not necessarily for Gander, Newfoundland, whose population is lower today than a decade ago – a city that could follow Canon’s lead by giving more time off for procreation. As for our laggard small to medium sized business in Canada, I say it is high time to get on the Canon bandwagon. They’re not leaders in high quality reproduction for nothing.

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is the best selling author of "Get Wired, You're Hired!" He is a professional speaker and consultant on workplace issues at www.CareerActivist.com