How to Measure Corporate Empathy
Measuring individual empathy is tough; corporate empathy is even tougher. We’re calling for it to become mandatory by 2030.
Empathy — the ability to know what another person is feeling, to be able to see the world through others’ eyes and to connect as meaningfully as an innocent child connects with a dolphin — is a trait not usually associated with business. However, corporate empathy is rapidly rising up the agenda. Enterprises are waking up to the fact that relating in a human way to all its stakeholders — having emotional intelligence on a corporate scale — pays dividends.
Measuring individual empathy is tough — just look at the lengthy list of available empathy measurements. Measuring corporate empathy is even tougher, partly because — as Leah Reich says — the mere act of measuring it takes the heart out of empathy.
However — as we look ahead to business in the 22nd Century — it should be mandatory for organisations to measure and report their Empathy Quotient as a primary measure of success.
A London consultancy publishes the Global Empathy Index, but their methodology ranks British American Tobacco 12th and SAB Miller 21st, ahead of Whole Foods Market at 30th. Call me old-fashioned, but when a company in an industry which causes nearly one in five deaths in the US and another which is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the US ranks higher than a health food store, something is wrong.
Here’s how to identify whether your corporate culture allows empathy and compassion to flourish.
- Diversity: Does the organisation practice diversity and inclusion, or does it merely pay lip service? What does the makeup of the board look like? What percentage of management comes from previously excluded populations? A good place to start is Mitch & Freada Kapor’s Founders’ Commitment.
- Structure: Does the organisation’s org chart match a typical hierarchy or does a more responsive, self-management culture exist? A good place to start is Tom Nixon’s Beyond Hierarchy.
- Salaries: Does the organisation follow minimum wage guidelines or do they ascribe to the concept of Unconditional Basic Income? Is the ratio between their highest and lowest paid employees reported? Does the organisation regularly share all financial info with all full time employees, including transparency on company-wide salaries? A good place to start is Scott Santens’ Support for Unconditional Basic Income.
- Disrupting Unemployment: Does the organisation talk about merely job creation, or do they actively find ways of using technology to replace mundane tasks and create meaningful employment? A good place to start is Vint Cerf’s and David Nordfors’ Innovation for Jobs.
- Purpose: Does the organisation measure what matters — happiness and purpose — or are they focussed only on triple bottom line? Do they understand the connection between profit & purpose? A good place to start is Aaron Hurst’s journey to Imperative.
- Emotional Intelligence: Does the organisation encourage mindfulness and EI? Do they encourage working with emotions as well as skill-sets? A good place to start is Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.
- Happiness: How satisfied are existing and past employees with their employer? What is the organisation’s Workplace DNA? A good place to start is glassdoor.
- Ethical Products: Are the organisation’s goods and services regarded as inappropriate to the needs of society? Are the products produced in a way that takes advantage of workers or that damages the environment, or that borrows from future generations? A good place to start is Corporate Accountability International.
- Dark Data: Does the organisation collect excessive amounts of data about their customers and users without making the data useful to the person generating the data?
- Advertising: Is the organisation’s advertising manipulative, demeaning or distortive? Does the organisation serve its market — does its advertising help prospective customers move closer to their desired outcome, whether they buy from the organisation or not?
- Ecoliteracy: How well does the organisation understand the interactions between human systems — transportation, energy, building, commerce and industry — and natural systems and do they actively work to fix our broken relationship with the earth, on which all life depends? A good place to start is Daniel Goleman’s book Ecoliterate.
- Green Activities: To what extent does the organisation commit to the basics of green business: recycling, green building standards, reduced energy usage, reduced emissions? Are managers evaluated on social and environmental goals?
Suppliers, Marketplace & Society
- Civic Responsibility: Does the organisation engage in excessive tax avoidance? Does the organisation contribute to community projects or donate a percentage of its profits? Do products/services directly address a social issue (eg. microfinance, education)? How many hours per year of paid time off is permitted for for community service?
- Support for Low Income Communities: What percentage of significant suppliers come from low-income communities?
- Fair Trade: What percentage of products or input materials are certified to meet fair trade sourcing practices?
- Coopetition: Does the organisation exist in the traditional world of competition or does it embrace collaboration and cooperation between previously competing companies? A good place to start is Adam Brandenburger’s book Co-Opetition and Riane Eisler’s The Partnership Way.
- Abundance: Does the organisation operate from a space of scarcity or abundance? A good place to start is Peter Diamandis’ and Steven Kotler’s book Abundance.
- Courtney Seiter of Buffer has put together a fantastic list of books and videos on empathy.
- The Responsible Business — Reimagining Sustainability and Success by Carol Sanford
- Mission — How the Best in Business Break Through by Michael Hayman & Nick Giles
- Scrum Alliance’s Learning Consortium for the Creative Economy
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