Financial Post: Forget Ethics Training – Focus on Empathy

Ethics training may seem like an ideal investment in the new world of work. After all, ethics and transparency are becoming more and more important to the commercial success of an organization. Consumers are looking for businesses and leaders who they trust and believe will do the right thing, and yet we continue to see scandals rocking businesses across sectors.

“42% of respondents state that their organizations have weak ethical cultures.”

– Financial Post: Forget Ethics Training – Focus on Empathy

The data from the 2011 National Business Ethics survey shows that organizations are seen by their employees as having weak ethical cultures, and many of the unethical behaviours that were identified in their 2013 survey were observed by leaders and management. So if ethics are so important, what can companies do to improve their ethics, at all levels of their organization?

It turns out, that “leaders who scored the highest on empathy also exhibited the highest levels of ethical leadership.” People who show empathy are building connections to other people, and are considering the impact of their decisions and actions on other people, which tends to lead them to more ethical decisions. Empathy is also an indicator of the success of senior executives, showing up as “one of the third strongest predictors of effectiveness for senior executives”, which fits in with emotional intelligence as a predictor of success. It also makes solid business sense. Companies that are prioritizing empathy at work outperform other companies financially.

Can you build a more empathic culture at work?

The good news is that empathy is a skill that can be learned and developed by people at any point during their career. Organizations can also take concrete steps to build a culture that places value on empathy, which can have a stronger positive effect on the ethics of the company than ethics training.

So how can you build a more empathic culture? You can start by leading by example, and promoting and rewarding employees based on empathy. You can also focus on hiring for empathy, bringing people with strong empathy skills into your team to help shift the culture as a whole. You can also try these 5 tips to be more empathetic!

Review the full article on how empathy leads to better ethics here.

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