Empathy and understanding belong in the workplace

Posted on Friday, May 10, 2019 by Jessica Salerno

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

In a recent interview with Jay Moeller, CPA, partner at RSM US LLP, he said it’s important for men to understand the issues women deal with in the workplace and to be supportive. Men have never had to contemplate many of the issues women face in the workplace, like sexual harassment or equal pay.

Understanding these issues requires a skill that is taught to children but rarely emphasized in the workplace: empathy. It means to understand and share the feelings of another, and as Brené Brown says in this popular video on empathy “it drives connection.” 

The workplace did not escape the impact of #MeToo, and as organizations everywhere work to create fair and equal environments for all genders, empathy is an important tool to use in these efforts. Practicing empathy can encourage connections and understanding that did not exist before. Putting yourself in the shoes of a colleague and considering the barriers they face might feel uncomfortable, but it’s crucial to building a better business environment.

Making empathy a business priority can have positive impact. Accenture found in a recent survey that organizations that treated women and men equally were able to innovate significantly more effectively than those that didn’t. 

For many workplaces these will be new practices, and it might not always go as originally intended. Organizations need to remain flexible and open-minded as they work on instilling gender equality practices in the culture.

And as Moeller mentioned, this work can be bumpy at times, “but you just have to keep pushing and moving forward.”

Register for the Women, Wealth & Wellness Conference on June 27 in Columbus now.

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