What is it that only you can do?

As entrepreneurs in the start up phase of business, many Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle members struggle with the feeling of “having to do it all”.  Weird guilt about how it is somehow cheating to outsource, to delegate or simply being worried about cash flow stop us from using a vendor!

In the October Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle meeting we focused on ways to become more productive by doing more of what matters and less of the stuff that keeps us busy and drains our energy.

It was a refreshing take on the idea that you can drop the ball without guilt. Perhaps you can mindfully throw it someone else, let it bounce away from you safe in the knowledge someone else will pick it up or simply set the ball at your feet ” this is not going to get done and I am fine with that”! 


Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.31.48 AM
Lean In Japan Entrepreneur Circle Members October 2017 Zoom Meeting

After discussing the takeaways from the video “Drop the Ball: Doing More of What Matters: Find Your Highest and Best Use” By Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Officer, Levo and author of Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less , the circle got into the practicalities of how to achieve the lofty sounding goal of “finding your highest and best use”

Circle members shared some of their own stories of how they had said no, reprioritised, found work arounds, used vendors to make the mental space and physical time to work on what only they can do.

Be Gone foul to-do list!

The process of writing the list of what really mattered personally and professionally alongside what you wish would just go away was empowering. Very refreshing to say “I just wish that no longer existed!”

Highest and Best Use ranking system

Using Dufu’s method of ranking your “to-do” list reduced mine from 21 items to 13. Being honest with myself there were another 3 to 5 items that I could look into outsourcing in the longer term or getting my family to take more responsibility for.

What remained were highest and best purpose – things only I can do and things that I can do well and easily.

Meeting Takeaways

  1. Make time for more of your highest and best use activities -What are the things that 
    1.  only you can do – skills, political savvy?
    2.  you do very well with little effort?
  2. If you pay a vendor, the job will surely get done…not sit on your to-do list! Circle members recommended 99 designs, fiverr, upwork 
  3. When you are feeling overwhelmed get that “to-do” list ranked and be brutally honest on whether that ball really needs to be being juggled at all!

Join Us!

Register for the Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle to get your invitation.

2017- 12/13 (F2F and Zoom)

2018 – 1/18, 2/21, 3/20 (F2F), 4/19, 5/23, 6,21 (F2F), 7/17


If you are an English-speaking, Japan-based female entrepreneur who would like to grow your business, apply online at Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle.

You can’t be what you can’t see?


This is Milly.

Milly is 11 years old. She is an articulate, intelligent, thoughtful girl and also a natural athlete. This is a girl who shuns the ladder to the top bunk and does a pull-up instead.

A few months ago, Spartan Race Japan held a trial event in Odaiba and Milly came along with her mum, a fellow Spartan. The plan was that whilst the adults were sweating it out on the 90-minute course, Milly would tackle the kids’ obstacle trial. Based on this, we headed off for running, climbing, crawling and burpees in the 29-degree heat.

When we came back, Milly was sitting with her dad. She had clearly not been on the course.

“What happened? Why are you not on the kids course?”

“Mmm… I didn’t want to….”

“What? We came all the way here to Odaiba. This is a great chance to train for the race in October!”

“I don’t want to do it. There are only boys.”

We were gobsmacked. In front of us was this amazing young athlete and she was not going to shine because she felt excluded from the group.

Because she was a girl.

She didn’t feel like she could take part. Her reason: there was no one like her on the course. She didn’t belong there.

Because she was a girl.

You can’t be what you can’t see

I’ve always been quite dismissive of the need for women to have specifically female role models in the workplace. Being in a male-dominated company for most of my career in Japan has meant I was often the only woman in the room. I assumed that many women  working in Japan know we might need to be the pioneer in our organization and I just got used to being the “first woman” to do something.

But here was a clear and quite painful reminder that the inability to see people “like you” taking part and being engaged, really does hold people back.

It was so sad to see this talented girl sitting on the sidelines. My hope is that she can find the courage to be a pioneer when she needs to in the future.

What if there are no role models?

In line with this belief of “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it”, many organisations in Japan seem to be fixated on the idea that the reason that women are not climbing the corporate ladder is because there are no internal role models. They have resigned themselves to the idea that change is impossible unless women can see someone like themselves at a higher level. An aspirational role model is essential for success.

How does this mindset help though?

It’s a Catch-22 situation – there are no female senior role models because there are no female senior role models.

How can you break out of this mindset?

Firstly, think of your leadership role – how can you make minority or outside groups feel that they do belong? How do you make meetings more inclusive? Let people know that their ideas and contributions are valued – not just as a representative of a “special interest group” but as a key part of your team.

“What are your thoughts on this from a female perspective, Jennifer?” is probably a well-intentioned attempt to bring in a different perspective but reminds me and everyone else in the room of my difference. Asking me to speak on behalf of all women is as ridiculous as when I am asked, “What do foreigners think about Japan?”. I can only share my experience, so please go and ask 100 other people if you want a statistically reliable answer.

Secondly, support the pioneers. Actively seek out the talent that looks different from your previous success profile. Know what that individual values and how your organisation might support it…but again, don’t assume that all the pioneers need the same support.

You are missing out on exceptional performance from your team and potential employees because of their perception of what a success profile looks like in your organization. As a leader in this talent-short market, you need to be addressing the implicit bias in your company and making extra effort to support those who might be being overlooked.

Finally, accept that even though it looks to you like the playing field is totally even and there are no signs on the door saying “No girls (or whatever!) allowed”, you could be seeing this through the lens of your privilege. The experience for other people can be totally different than yours.

So what happened to Milly?

You’ll be glad to know that there is a happy ending to this story.  On closer inspection, there were not only boys taking part. Milly was persuaded to give it a go and change her perspective. She made a new friend and, in the end, it was hard to drag her away as she was having so much fun.

We got to see Milly in action, tearing up the course… and it must have been dusty out on the course that day. I got a little teary eyed watching her shine.



Face your Fears – Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire October 2017 Event Report

Participants from Australia, Columbia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK representing  areas as diverse as government, tax consulting, luxury, FMCG and recruiting joined the October 2017 Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire Circle held at Dale Carnegie High Performance Centre in Tokyo.

201710 Lean In GOF Circle Jennifer Shinkai

Meeting Goals

Engaging, the focus of this meeting, emphasizes how you can overcome your fears, move into action, and take risks.
• Develop strategies to make you more comfortable facing your fears and taking risk

Circle members used various tools to explore how they can handle real situations differently.  As always, confidentiality and trust are key to the success of the circle. It was a chance for people to take a coaching role, asking open questions rather than giving advice.

Meeting Takeaways

  • It’s always good to be reminded that we must step out of our comfort zone to learn.
  • Comparing the upsides of taking action versus the downsides of doing nothing – this made a lot of members realise that maintaining the status quo was not an option!

  • Digging Deeper – Using one of my favourite coaching questions And What Else?
  • Running a pre-mortem – understanding the absolute worst case scenario and how you can mitigate the risk or recover from it.

Future event invitations on Facebook can be found at Jennifer Shinkai Coaching Events page

December will have guest Speaker focusing on Mindfulness


2017/18 Meeting Dates
Generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month  7pm to 9pm at Dale Carnegie Japan. Meetings are free unless otherwise stated.

2017 10/18, 11/15, 12/13 (2nd Wednesday ¥2000 with guest speaker, Jodi Harris of World Tree Coaching)

2018 1/17, 2/21, 3/21, 4/18, 5/16, 6/20, 7/18

Would you like to join an English Speaking Lean In Circle in Japan?

Request to join the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and we will set up a call to decide which circle is best for your needs.

November Group Coaching Sessions

Want to find a way to gain a new perspective and move forwards? Feeling stuck on a specific issue in your professional or personal life?

“By changing the way we

see something,

reframing our perspective,

everything can look

vastly different.”

International Coach Academy: Reframing Perspectives

In a 90-minute group coaching environment, you will use the Points of You: The Coaching Game™ to explore a specific issue. Points of You™ enables you to gain new perspectives to drive future action.

How does The Coaching Game™  work?

Here’s a short example of a one-on-one session



About new perspectives

“We believe that every thing: people, objects, situations, music, tastes… every little thing in life has countless points of view. The real challenge is to look at things from a new viewpoint, one that was previously out of our sight. We believe that change almost always starts when we are open and ready to take a chance and look at things from new perspectives, new points of view.”

Points of You™

About your Coach

Jennifer Shinkai is a facilitator and coach who helps her clients create and communicate change.  She has seen the innovation that diversity and inclusion can bring to organisations and believes that individuals can benefit from experimenting with new perspectives on our challenges.

As an International Coach Federation member, she is committed to creating an open and confidential space for clients to grow. Through the use of The Coaching Game™ in a group setting, clients will be able to reframe their perspective to create lasting change.

About your sessions


5 minutes walk from Kinshicho Station.

Venue details will be sent by email to confirmed participants.

Session Fee:

¥4000 per 90-minute session including light refreshments.

Sign up for all 4 sessions to receive ¥2000 discount.

Session fee must be paid in advance by PayPal or bank transfer.


You can join one session or sign up for all 4 at a special discounted rate of ¥10,000.

  1. Wednesday, November 15th 13:30 to 15:00
  2. Friday, November 24th 10:00 to 11:30
  3. Friday, November 24th 15:30 to 17:00

Sign-up closes 5 days before each session.

NB November 8th session has been cancelled as of 10/23. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Register here and embrace a new perspective

Still have questions? Contact me today.


9 coaching lessons from cleaning out your closet

Last week I invested in a closet detox with Tokyo based stylist, Corin Kanazawa. I’m now the proud owner of a pared down, easy to style capsule wardrobe as well as a whole new level of awareness on what works for me and what does not.

All through the 4 hour session, I was thinking…”Wow, this is a lot like coaching. There are a lot of parallels between this process and how clients grow during a coaching session.” Here they are, 9 coaching lessons from cleaning out your closet

“Because I’m worth it”

Investing in your development is essential but something we often shy away from. It feels frivolous, self-indulgent, a waste of money but as one client said to me “just signing up for coaching made me take myself seriously, think about myself differently. I felt like a L’Oreal advert ‘because I’m worth it’. It’s the first thing I have done just for me in the last 12 months.”

You also don’t need to invest in everything! Looking at quality. making mindful choices about what you really need and overcoming FOMO will leave you with a much richer life.

You already have changed

I found things that used to suit me but no longer do.  Even though I love those items, I have to admit that they really don’t suit me anymore.

In coaching, those thoughts that protected you from embarrassment, vulnerability, don’t “suit” you anymore either. You are a different person now with different goals.

Clear goals matter

A stylist will ask you what you are trying to achieve with your wardrobe, just as a coach will drill down on those goals for your coaching sessions. Without a clear visualistaion of what success if going to look like and how you will measure it, the coaching sessions won’t have impact.

Those agreed goals are going to come back to you in your ongoing work so they had better be compelling and meaningful or you will not be able to commit to change.

Saying goodbye

As you clear out your closet, you will find things that are hard to part with. In coaching, you will have the same thing.

This is where the konmari method can help – showing reverence and saying thanks to the thing you are about to get rid of:

“Giving sincere thanks to an item will significantly reduce or even eliminate any guilt you may feel when you decide that you will no longer have it in your home.”

When we can kindly say goodye and thanks to these items and thoughts we can move on to a less cluttered mind without guilt. Try it!

Fresh pair of eyes and a different angle

Having an expert ask the difficult questions and open you up to new perspectives is so helpful.

By challenging the client and holding the goal up again, stylists and coaches help to keep clients on course. And of course, coaching is all about opening up to new perspectives.

“Of course, you can keep this “t-shirt/ underlying belief”. How will it help you to reach the goal you set at the beginning of the session?

Get a full length mirror and wear shoes in the house

You need to be able to see yourself from top to toe. In coaching, using psychometric tools like Saville Wave can be one way to understand your competencies. Combine that with feedback, visualisation, and weekly check ins are ways to raise your own self awareness, to see yourself warts and all!

And shoes in the house? A Japan specific issue but how can you really know what your outfit looks like in your socks? Be creative and find a way to put everything together (even if it means stretching cultural norms!)

Ditch the yoga pants… unless you are doing yoga

Stop wearing your pjs to the shops – those comfort clothes “for around the house” – well we usually go our the house in them too.

“All coaching is life coaching after the third session,” is a common refrain from Master Coaches at the International Coach Academy. Like our slobby clothes, we end up going out with old beliefs and thoughts leading our actions. Whilst they might have been helpful in the past, these beliefs don’t serve us anymore. So ditch ’em!

Play and experiment

It won’t be natural but this is why you invested in the session. If you go back to the same old closet standards and beliefs, why did you bother?

The work you do outside the session and the new awareness you bring to your goals is more important than the session itself!

Trying a tool like Points of You (watch this space for session info!) makes you look at your issue in a new light and opens up the possibility of a insight and growth.

Creating autonomy and support

“I can’t be here to style you everyday. You need to be able to put new outfits together based on what we discussed. You can send me a picture and I can give you feedback”

Corin’s goal was to give me enough insight into my own needs that I can style myself. She was also available as a sounding board.

As a coach, my goal is to help clients create and communicate change in their lives, to give them the awareness and tools to “style themselves” everyday.


So, there you have it, 9 coaching lessons from cleaning out your closet! Who knew that there would be so many parallels in chucking out a load of old clothes and your personal growth?

Want to clear out the clutter in your mental closet? Contact me for a 30 minute discovery session today and find out how we can work together.

Based in Tokyo and want to clear out your actual closet? Be sure to contact Corin Kanazawa Stylist through her FB page.

Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire 2017/18 Kick Off Meeting – Event wrap up

7 professional women from Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK kicked off the Lean In Tokyo Girls On Fire 2017/18 Kick Off meeting at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills on September 27, 2017. This celebration dinner marks the start of our 4th year and we were delighted to welcome a returning founding member as well as a new member to the Circle. Other members were unable to attend but we look forward to seeing them at our October 18th meeting.

With time in Japan ranging from 6 months to almost 20 years, our Circle diversity was not only cultural.  We cover diverse fields: banking, pharmaceutical, professional services and luxury goods. Cross-pollination of ideas and sharing best practices and members find the variety refreshing and inspiring.

20170927 LeanIn Tokyo GOF event blog

Creating Trust

For a circle to be successful, members need to agree to the 3 Circle fundamentals: Confidentiality, Communication and Commitment. Over the four years of moderating this circle, Commitment has been one of the keys to developing trust and learning. As members see each other more regularly, the relationships really deepen and it is amazing to have a group of supportive peers available to help you with challenges and opportunities.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 9.16.21 AM

(Image Credit: Leanin.org)

Lean In peer support enables change

In the past year members have taken on new roles, asked for and been given stretch assignments, returned with grace and professionalism from maternity leave and developed their professional skills. It’s inspiring to see the growth in the group and many members commented that being part of this community has helped them either from moral support or by using specific techniques covered in the curriculum

A year from now?

Setting shared goals and themes for the group in the Kick off Meeting allows the moderator to pick the most appropriate resources on LeanIn.Org. The Leadership series is a great place to start as it does touch on many universal themes and gives you a 5 month arc of meetings to get you started.
As the Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire group is in our 4th year, we are looking for new material and interested in including a guest speaker or mentor once a quarter.

Themes for the year will include:
1. Clarifying Mission
2. Overcoming Fear
3. Influencing Others
4. Difficult Conversations
5. Managing your Manager
6. Women’s Wellness
7. Reputation and Branding
8. Effective Collaboration
9. Developing Balance

An email free Circle

LeanIn Tokyo Girls on Fire will be moving our circle communications to Slack. Events will continue to be advertised on Social Media but to be inclusive we need a non-public platform for discussion that all members can access. Members who have never used the tool are keen to be “email free”!

2017/18 Meeting Dates
Generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month  7pm to 9pm at Dale Carnegie Japan. Meetings are free unless otherwise stated.

2017 10/18, 11/15, 12/13 (2nd Wednesday)

2018 1/17, 2/21, 3/21, 4/18, 5/16, 6/20, 7/18

Would you like to join an English Speaking Lean In Circle in Japan?

Request to join the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and we will set up a call to decide which circle is best for your needs.

The Four Tendencies – Book Review

How do you react when you see this type of sign in your office?


(Image credit Essendon Creative)

You really have to love the use of comic sans, capitals and five exclamation marks. But more importantly, according to Gretchen Rubin’s recently released book The Four Tendencies, your reaction will say a lot about how you respond to expectations. This will go a long way to helping you to understand how to “make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.”

Flash evaluation for the Four Tendencies

Answer this question and chose the answer that is most relevant to you

“How do you feel about New Year’s Resolutions?”

  1. Enjoy and keep them  – and not just at New Year – Upholder
  2. Will make and keep  resolutions but believe Jan 1 is an arbitrary date and it is inefficient to wait – Questioner
  3. May have given up on making New Year’s resolution as you have failed so often in the past – Obliger
  4. Don’t want to be bound by resolutions – Rebel

If you want to explore more you can buy the book via my amazon affiliate link or take the online test.

Self-awareness game changer


Discovering the tool was a game changer for me – a classic obliger, I realized that my need for external accountability is huge. I know now that when I want to get something done, I need an external deadline, someone else counting on me to show up or do something.

I realised that this is why I love to join groups and organsie things for others. Spartan race, Lean In, being a member of a running club, running Tokyo Marathon to raise money for NPO resiience. All of these are examples of me getting stuff done by using outer expectations. It’s too easy for me to break promises to myself but not so when other people are involved.

How to apply The Four Tendencies framework

1. There is no hierarchy of tendencies

Other tendencies tend to think that being an upholder is the “best” –  self motivated, gets stuff done, focused etc

But there is a dark side to Upholders, as with all tendencies. Upholders will “uphold” without any thought to the impact on others. Even if it inconveniences a others, the upholder will keep to their plan. We’ve all had that person who simply couldn’t find anything on the menu because of their diet plan and makes it difficult to find a place to eat as they can’t change it even for one meal.

The power of the Four Tendencies model is in knowing your tendency or those of people around you and using that self awareness to create habits in a more effective way.

2. Motivation tool for managers

I have used the tool with management teams who discovered how to support their team members in reaching goals. Giving a vocabulary and a deeper understanding to what motivates your colleague and how to help them create habits is  eye opening.

3. Action plans that work for your tendency

In individual coaching, knowledge of your tendency helps you to realise why you might be struggling to create habit like behaviours. Rather than focus on “Oh, why am I so lazy? Why can’t I stick to anything?” story, you can focus instead on creating action based on the strengths of your natural tendency.

Once you know what your tendency is then you are well placed, not to try to overcome it, but to work within the boundaries and find ways to make that tendency work for you

Wash your cups please!!!!

Oh and I guess you already know but the likely responses for those passive aggressive cup wash signs – often created by Obligers in the midst of what Rubin calls “Obliger rebellion” are:

An Obliger will see this sign and wash their cup

A Questioner will want to know why it needs to be done. Why do the cleaners not wash the cup? Is leaving one cup unwashed going to make a big difference?

A Rebel will resist “no one tells me what to do! I’ll wash my cup if I feel like it”

An Upholder will wash the cup regardless of the sign.  As long as they think it is the right thing to do, the sign makes no difference.

Let me know your feedback on The Four Tendencies. How can this self awareness  be useful for you right now?

Coaching Questions

How can you adjust your communication style to work with people of different tendencies?

How can you implement knowledge of your tendency to me more effective, productive and happy in your life?

Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs 2017/18 Kick Off Meeting – Event wrap up

“Revitalised”, “Energised” and “Inspired”

Three of the closing comments at the September 21 Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs 2017/18 Kick Off meeting. (Not sure what Lean In is? Check out this post and my personal story on the power of peer support)

7 members joined the live meeting sponsored by Smart Partners K.K. and 2 members joined via Zoom. Thanks to Jason de Luca for his continued support in our second year!

201709 LeanIn Japan Entrepreneurs Group.jpg

Choose Happiness@Work

As many of the group have been meeting regularly we started with a different type of connection activity. This game got us talking and sharing best practices of how we can be happier and according to the game’s creators “Science suggests that a boost in happiness raises productivity 10-25%”. As entrepreneurs we are all looking at how we can get more out of our day!

201709 LeanIn Japan Entrepreneurs

Creating Shared Circle Goals

“One year from now, what would you like this circle to help you achieve?”

Circle members shared their big picture business goals and we defined 4 broad themes.

As business owners, marketing, pricing and negotiation, continued professional development and work-life balance came up as key areas that the 2017/18 curriculum will focus on.

Accountability, Resources and a Sounding Board

These were themes highlighted as expectations as to how the Circle can support each member to achieve goals. To enable this a closed Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Facebook group has been set up to allow smoother communication than the current LeanIn.Org forum/ email list.

Dates for future events have been tentatively set for 9:30-11:30am via zoom with a face to face meeting four times a year. Register for the Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle to get your invitation.

2017- 10/19, 11/15, 12/12 (F2F)

2018 – 1/18, 2/21, 3/20 (F2F), 4/19, 5/23, 6,21 (F2F), 7/17


“A vital event for me to attend”

In closing, one of the circle members described the meeting as “too important, vital for me to attend”. Even though members had to battle through traffic, personal illness and getting lost, every meeting brings connection, cameraderie and most importrantly actionable ideas to grow our business.

If you are an English-speaking, Japan-based female entrepreneur who would like to grow your business, apply online at Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle.


Claiming your Strengths at Nagoya University

What activities leave you energised? Have you ever looked up at the clock and gone “Wow! Where did the time go?” What are the things that you most look forward to doing?

According to Marcus Buckingham, these are what you can really consider your strengths. Forget about competency, skills  and what you are good at, strengths should be considered from the perspective of what makes you strong.

On June 27 2017, I was a guest lecturer at Nagoya University Well-Being Program (Nagoya University Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences and School of Agricultural Sciences) and used the Lean In Claiming your Strengths Discussion Guide sponsored by Buckingham as a way to give the students a hands on experience with the Lean In Circle format.

Did you know that Nagoya University is #heforshe IMPACT Champion? HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality developed by UN Women to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights. They launched an interesting short course, you can find out more about how to build your Gender IQ here


Before my workshop, Setsu Suzuki shared her personal entrepreneurship story and the lessons that the graduate students could take from it in terms of their careers. Her takeaways on the power of networking, building connections are relevant for academics, entrepreneurs and professionals in corporate life.

I opened the presentation with an introduction of Lean In and my own Lean In story. Whilst a real Lean In circle would last about 2 hours and have max 12 participants to enable group sharing as well as individual and pair work, we had a limited time frame to give a taster session.

It was a diverse group with students from over eight countries, and I was happy to see some men leaning in as well!



If your organization is looking for ways to develop the curriculum of your women’s network or ERG focusing on diversity and inclusion, I strongly recommend looking into the Lean In materials.

It can be led from the grass roots, separated for “ages and stages” to develop peer support and gives a clear focus to each meeting once the curriculum is set following the kick off meeting.

Contact me for more information and I can deliver an orientation session to support roll out in your organization.

Retaining Working Mothers in Japan – Part 4: Practical Logistics

In this fourth and final part of the series, Retaining Working Mothers in Japan series (Introduction, Communication during Childcare Leave, Smooth On-ramping for Working Mothers, Normalising Flexibility) we look at some of the practical considerations when mothers of young children are on your team.

Facilities for nursing mothers

Is your returning mother still nursing? What do you mean you are too embarrassed to ask?

Many companies include provisions for 15 min breaks in their work rules for nursing/ pumping but few have actually considered the implications of this! You need to check with your employee and provide either a nursing or pumping room. Mothers request:

  1. a lockable door and a do not disturb sign
  2. blinds or a way to make private
  3. a power outlet so electric pumps can be used
  4. Access to a clean fridge
  5. A place to wash/sterilize equipment


“Narashi hoiku”: on-ramping for babies

Understand that most hoikuens expect some kind of “settling in period” in the first month. Therefore, a mother returning in April might not be available full time until after Golden Week. Plan accordingly in terms of assignments and meetings.

Sick babies are inevitable: make a plan

Parents feel terrible when they are called away due to their children’s illness. Most parents would much rather be at work than caring for a sick kid.

The biggest request is that employers are practical and supportive. Giving your employee a hard time about having to suddenly leave does not help the situation in any way. Acknowledge that they need to leave, ask them to update you once they know the situation in terms of how long the child might need to be at home and ask your employee to communicate priorities and requests for support during their absence.

This is a great example of when technology and offsite access is going to help your business run smoothly. In many cases, your employee can keep some projects moving forwards and be in contact during the absence.

It’s also worth letting your employee know about pre-registering with a daycare which will take sick children. First time parents might not be aware of them.


I hope you have found this series useful. Please contact me to share your best practices on how we can create diverse and inclusive workplaces so we can empower women to bring innovation to the office!