While perseverance is a trait to be admired, there comes a point where “Suck it up, buttercup” is just terrible career advice.
Among the most exalted virtues in Japan is the ability to gaman. Literally translating as just “endure,” gaman gets used whenever someone powers through a tough situation by redoubling their efforts.
In a lot of ways, this gaman culture can make Japanese companies a great place to work. In times of crisis, it encourages people to pitch in above and beyond the call of duty, and also discourages the type of complaining that doesn’t do anything but sap the energy and productivity out of a workplace.
But sometimes people can get so wrapped up in the whole gaman thing that it blinds them to the fact that they’re actually spending their days in a toxic working environment. So to help remove the gaman goggles, Japanese employment site Kore Kara no Tenshoku has compiled a list of 20 signs that the company where a woman is working really isn’t the kind of place she should be wasting her talents in.
1. You do more than 40 hours of overtime a month.
2. It’s a matter of course that when 8 p.m. rolls around, you’re still working.
3. You’re busy every weekday, and even work some weekends, but you’re not allowed to take any time off.
4. The company is unproductive.
5. If your boss is still at his desk, you feel self-conscious about clocking out.
6. You feel guilty about putting in a request for a day off.
7. Your company technically allows employees to take leave, but no one actually does.
8. Less than 10 percent of your company’s managers are women
9. The office atmosphere isn’t at all accepting about discussing your future career path.
10. The company allows workers to request transfers to other departments, but no one takes advantage of it.
11. You find the company regulations to be discriminatory based on gender.
12. You feel that male and female employees are evaluated using different criteria or in a way that steers them towards different results.
13. The people who get raises or promotions are the ones who spend the most time working.
14. Many people are still in the office after 10 p.m.
15. Many employees eat their lunch at their desks, while still working away on their computers.
16. You feel that the male employees have a poor understanding of their female counterparts.
17. There aren’t any older or higher-ranking employees in the company who you see as a role-model.
18. Few female employees return to the company after taking maternity leave.
19. Looking at your coworkers, you see hardly any successful working mothers.
20. You believe your boss’ way of speaking constitutes sexual or power harassment.
While many of these are obvious things to be concerned about, a few are possible indicators of more subtle problems. If your salary isn’t tied to performance incentives, it might seem like no skin off your back if the company isn’t productive, but that shortcoming might speak to a broader corporate culture that doesn’t properly value its employees’ time and energy, arguably its two most important assets. Likewise, transfer request systems that go unutilized could be proof that the company isn’t really as committed to employee satisfaction as it pretends to be.
For those reasons, Kore Kara no Tenshoku recommends that if five or more items on its list are applicable to a woman’s company, it’s time for her to look for a new, better job. Honestly, you could probably give that exact same advice to male employees as well, since even if the woman-specific entries don’t apply directly to them, they’re still signs of a pretty bad place to work.