Dentsu Sets Up 'Reforms Commission' To Probe Its Work Practices

Dentsu has established what it’s calling the “Dentsu Working Environment Reforms Commission,” to improve the work-related environment at the Tokyo-based ad holding company.

The move comes amid a government investigation into the death of a Dentsu employee last December who had worked hundreds of overtime hours in the months leading up to her death. A Japanese labor agency issued a report earlier this month that concluded the excessive overtime was a contributing factor in the young woman’s apparent suicide.

Death by overwork (or so-called "karoshi") has been a growing trend in Japan that the government and various industries there have taken steps to eliminate.



Since the labor agency ruling, Dentsu has taken several steps to improve working conditions including limiting the number of overtime hours an employee can work in a month and turning lights off in its offices by 10 p.m.

The new Dentsu commission is headed by company President & CEO Tadashi Ishii and includes a number of other senior company officials. The company indicated that the commission is tasked with creating “a comprehensive reform plan to prevent repeated overwork issues, including business planning and a comprehensive review of the organization, its personnel system and business flow, and implement various specific action,” designed to improve the working environment and eliminate karoshi. In addition to advice from “external experts,” the commission will receive input from several teams of junior and mid-level employees.

Also, a law firm has been retained to conduct an “independent review into our company's labor practices to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.” 

Dentsu noted that it continues to “cooperate fully with the authorities on their investigation [into the employee death] and once a determination is made on the facts about overwork issues, any disciplinary measures deemed appropriate to any Executive Officers or employees will be made rigorously and announced separately.”

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