Dentsu to abandon its 1951 'devil' rules

The agency is to remove controversial commandments designed to promote hard work from its staff handbooks.

Dentsu Tokyo (Image: Dentsu.com)
Dentsu Tokyo (Image: Dentsu.com)

Dentsu is to remove ten principles from its employees’ handbook following controversy over one that encourages staff to see a task through to the end "even if it kills you".

The commandment drew criticism after a Dentsu employee committed suicide last year. Known as Dentsu’s ten ‘devil rules’, the list was drawn up in 1951 by then president Hideo Yoshida. The rules are designed to inspire staff to work to their maximum potential.

Many of the rules are sensible and as applicable to today’s working environment as to that of the 1950s. They tell employees to be proactive in seeking out work; to take on large, challenging tasks rather than small ones; to set continuous goals for themselves; to present a good example for colleagues; and not to shy away from conflict.

However, Dentsu is in the process of reviewing its working practices in an effort to create a more balanced environment for staff. The agency will introduce a scheme that enables subordinates to appraise their managers.

It has also put measures in place that aim to prevent extreme overtime hours and will encourage staff to take a minimum of 50% of their annual paid leave allowance.

A version of this story originally appeared on Campaign Japan.

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