Belinda Parmar: Because empathy makes a difference to the bottom line

A British business has observed that companies perform better when they show empathy.
belinda parmar

Global companies are now creating new ‘empathy departments’ and one of Europe’s largest banks is the first to implement revolutionary metrics. These departments are distinct from financial and marketing departments, and performance is not rated by sales or social media metrics. The newly implemented empathy metrics are measurements of how the quality of human interaction, both for customers and for staff, affects performance.

What does this have to do with business? Empathy is, in fact, not that different from a muscle: it can be trained, strengthened and wisely used. By understanding what one’s impact on others is, employees can impact on business operation and effectiveness. As the aptly-named The Empathy Business points out, there is a correlation between the level of empathy found in an organization and its performance. The top ten companies in their empathy index increased in market capitalisation more than twice as much as the bottom ten and generated 50% more earnings. 

According to Belinda Parmar, the CEO of The Empathy Business, never has business and politics needed empathy more than now. The roots of the company started in 2010, following a strong feeling of disappointment that technology sector is dominated by men making women almost a niche market. What detriment does that feeling have upon the effectiveness of women in the workplace?

“The problem is that many of the people creating our technological future, whether that is machine learning or virtual reality, are men. We need women to be part of the creation of technology not just the consumption of technology. Our future is too important to be designed by only half of the population!”

Belinda started up Lady Geek, a company aiming to make the technology sector more accessible to women. Then the realization came: it was not gender politics per se which had the most severe effect on performance, it was empathy, and the lack thereof, which has the biggest impact. Men want empathy too, men want more empathic, more purposeful cultures. Male customers want a more empathic treatment from the companies they deal with. Gender can be misleading. 

Belinda also created Little Miss Geek, a social enterprise, which inspired girls to get their education in technology and become pioneers. The campaign itself was supported by 40 members of British Parliament, and Belinda was awarded an OBE for services to the UK’s technology industry in 2014. She was also appointed as a Young Global Leader 2014 by the World Economic Forum. 

The Empathy Business is also responsible for the first ever ‘empathy index’ published in the Harvard Business Review, which ranks 170 companies in accordance with data based on an analysis of internal culture, CEO performance, ethics and social media presence. The companies which can be found on the index are selected from major financial indexes. Interestingly, six tech companies are ranked in the top ten for their empathy performance. 

Overall it seems that the higher the empathy score, the higher the productivity, earnings, and growth observed in a company. The report is prepared annually so keep your eyes open in March 2017 and check if Facebook is still the most empathic company with a score of 100/100.

In collaboration with Tech List

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