Honda Adopting English as Official Work Language
It seems that the Honda Motor Company is pulling a reverse-Vapors, with new CEO Hachigo Takahiro announcing that the Japanese company will be adopting English as the official language of its interregional communications.
This marks a radical departure for the company; as just five years ago, former CEO Takanobu Ito said it would be “stupid” to make English the official work language of a Japanese company. His successor, though, believes that this change in policy will better cultivate an international workforce. Honda’s goal is to make English its interregional work language by 2020.
It’s all part of a larger shift that Honda’s been making away from its home country of Japan and towards increased globalization. According to AutoNews, over 80% of the automaker’s vehicles are produced outside of Japan, and only 32% of Honda’s 204,730 global employees are Japanese. And according to Honda, that latter number will only continue to dwindle.
“While Japanese associates [expatriates] led management at Honda’s sites in each region in the past, we have now shifted to a system of management by local associates,” Honda’s annual sustainability report stated. “It is vital to develop an environment that achieves close communication between associates in six regions worldwide.”
Honda also says that it will be increasing its language training for Japanese employees, and making English proficiency a requirement for managerial employees.
If our experience watching dubbed Godzilla movies is any indication, then the new policy will lead to lots of Honda’s Japanese associates speaking English in a manner that is rather stiff, unconvincing, and distractingly incompatible with their lip movements.