Q: How can empathy help take your leadership to new heights?
A: Empathetic leadership can help drive results in more ways than one. Empathy allows you to put yourself in the shoes of your clients, as well as your colleagues. We often hear from straight, cisgender leaders that one of the biggest challenges to LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace is the lack of exposure to what life is like for LGBTQ+ people. We can all benefit from listening to new perspectives, stepping outside of our comfort zones, and considering what life is like for people with identities that are different from us.
One important tool we use in our DEI Consulting Practice to build empathy is to ask leadership to assess privilege. Which aspects of your identity are privileged in the world, i.e. white, heterosexual, cisgender, male, able-bodied? How have these identities aided your career path? How might this be different for people with marginalized identities, i.e. people of color, women, LGTBQ+ people, people with disabilities?
Lacking empathy can make it difficult to recognize the advantages you may have received based on systemic advantage, rather than on pure merit. When you can acknowledge that systemic racism and systemic oppression exist, you can begin to find ways to use your privileged identities to level the playing field and invest more strategically in the success of attorneys with underrepresented identities.