Drive DEI by Leading with Empathy

Drive DEI by Leading with Empathy

June 21, 2022 | WorkTango

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What’s at the very core of your DEI strategy? Driving everything else should be ensuring employees feel heard, understood, and truly accepted. In a word – that they experience empathy.

Empathy is about understanding another person’s thoughts, actions, and feelings. It’s something we all need. And here’s the good news: empathy isn’t fixed, it can be learned – by individuals and organizations.

The impact is real — 77% of people agree they’re much happier working for an empathetic employer. Sounds like a great idea, right? But what do you actually do?

3 Habits of Empathy-Centric Company Cultures

Honor the Employee voice

How do you know if your strategies for boosting empathy and inclusion in your culture are working? You tap into the Employee Voice. Use a survey and invite workers to share their experiences and perceptions. By inviting employees to share their insights and opinions, leaders are better able to support their teams in meaningful ways.

Curious to learn more about surveys? We’re inviting leaders to a walkthrough of WorkTango’s survey platform — with no strings attached.

Listen Actively

This skill is key for building psychological safety. Without it, there’s no such thing as true inclusion, innovation, risk taking, and connection. 

6 tips for active listening

Focus your attention

Undivided attention is one of the most valuable commodities in the modern world. When you really tune in, you communicate to someone that they’re more important than all other distractions and obligations.

Leave room for others

Practice conversational turn-taking. It’s one of the strongest traits of high performing teams.  (You can’t hear if you’re always talking, and if you don’t hear, you misunderstand.)

Adjust your attitude

Have an open-minded perspective and do the hard work of recognizing and uprooting your biases.

Leading with Empathy - focus

Give clues that you’re really present

Show your conversation partner that you’re really listening– nod, ask questions, make eye contact, circle back to confirm their points.

Respond with kindness rather than judgment

Be kind when others make mistakes or lose their cool. Extend compassion. Try to understand their reasons. That’s how the atmosphere of emotional safety takes hold.

Make feedback easy

An empathetic manager makes upward feedback as pain-free as possible. Knowing you’ll be heard without retribution is powerful fuel for emotional security.

Lead with empathy - support

Recognize & Reward Empathy-Centric Behaviors

Once you’ve modeled empathetic behavior for your team, it’s time to recognize people for putting them into practice! Encourage managers and team members to send each other points when they see kindness, inclusion, and great listening in action. That’s how positive norms become permanent parts of culture.

Making It Happen

Empathy is the starting place, but it leads to allyship. Listening is key for knowing what to do. If you’re ready to truly hear, understand, and support, we’d love to help!



WorkTango is the employee experience platform built for the modern workplace.