Building an Inclusive Culture through Empathy


We all have that one friend or colleague that raves about their amazing workplace culture. They love to talk about how they feel they can ‘be themselves’ or ‘bring their best to work’. We are genuinely happy for them but deep inside, we all wish we could work at a place that has a bit more heart.

When companies understand the power of inclusivity, they truly are able to tap into the minds and hearts of their employees that allow the organization to reach a new level. 

In the past year, there has been lots of talk about inclusive leadership and how to make our workplaces more equitable and diverse. All of these are extremely important, but not as much is mentioned about the key role that empathy plays in bridging the gap with leaders. 

Having empathy or being empathetic allows oneself to truly put their own thoughts, feelings, position and image aside and relate to others around them. Through this, they are genuinely able to show kindness, interest and well-being for others on a deeper level that translates to the other person as a connection. 

Now just imagine what your workplace would be like if all leaders and managers took that approach to management? Just imagine the type of engagement, loyalty and excitement employees would have and the productivity that would result from that. 

So what is stopping us from showing more empathy? What is getting in the way of managers and leaders alike not being able to disconnect from who they are and put themselves in the situation or mindset of their employees? There are two main reasons:

  1. Lack of understanding: having a high EQ is a skill like any other and those that aren’t strong in that area need to learn the ‘how’ and then put that into practice
  2. We don’t talk about it enough. When we think about leadership, the next immediate word to follow isn’t empathy. So we need to fundamentally change our way of thinking about the model of leadership and redesign it in a way that is natural for ourselves as leaders and also for our workplaces.

Change is hard. We all know and can attest to that. However, although difficult, we still need to do it and make available the time, energy and resources for it to happen and hopefully happen successfully. The same goes for empathic leadership. It is going to be a challenge. It is going to be uncomfortable, it may not sound right coming out of your mouth but that does not mean you stop. 

You learn, adapt, adjust and repeat. If we are to be better leaders, we need to put into practice and make the habits that will cement us as better leaders. Only then can we have the expectations that we should have of our leadership and second have workplaces where we truly belong and bring our authentic selves to work. 

Photo Courtesy of Stock Photo Secrets 

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