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8 ways to lead with empathy

Source | World Economic Forum

The traditional capitalist imperatives of finance and automation are giving way to a model in which firms compete primarily for human talent.

The corporations that are best placed to benefit from what the World Economic Forum has dubbed “the Fourth Industrial Revolution” – in which technology’s ability to enable human capital becomes the dominant market force – are those that maximize empathy. But where to start?

For empathy to have lasting impact, companies must understand that it’s not a “soft skill”, but an urgently needed quality, and one that can contribute to commercial potential.

In the Lady Geek Global Empathy Index, which measures “corporate empathy” in over 160 listed companies, we identified the eight behaviors of the world’s most empathetic companies:

1. They care about their cultures

Few of us would now question the importance of job culture, but this realisation is being driven home in increasingly empathetic fashion by millennials. Studies shown that 71% of millennials want their colleagues to be like a “second family”,and 75% feel that the organisation should mentor and nurture their talent. What they are demanding is a different kind of working experience: they are looking for connections; they want their voices — and their workplace requirements — to be heard.

Silicon Valley has excelled at this. Alphabet’s childcare benefits, Hootsuite’s on-the-job napping policy, and LinkedIn’s reading breaks are acts of empathic recognition for an enlightened workforce that realises that job satisfaction goes beyond money. In the words of Tania Missad, director of global brand insights at Mattel, “Millennials are driven by social justice and attracted to brands with purpose and values.” Mattel’s latest Barbie launch was born of the attempt to make their doll fit into this category.

2. They attract millennials through innovation

It’s not just the perks. Millennials are vocal about wanting to work in a creative environment: 78% admit they are influenced by a company’s reputation for innovation.

Once again, Silicon Valley is the benchmark. Six times as many patents are filed in California than in the whole of the UK. The statistics point to a positive relationship between corporate empathic cultures and ability to innovate. Four out of the top five most empathic companies spent more than $1billion on R&D in 2015.

Innovation is crucial to getting the best talent knocking on your door and, perhaps even more importantly, it sparks off a virtuous circle by which you will attract the next wave of innovators.

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