Business thriving into a future of constant and dramatic change will be dependent on empathy. It is a skill to be mastered by both individuals and companies. And meeting Srey – the Cambodian Girl – can be the first step, for you as a professional or as a business leader, to step up your empathy game.
Empathy is not an emotional expression, but a skill that can be mastered through meetings with others. Recently, a lot of research has been conducted in the field of empathy and it has gained much traction in the last few years. Ashoka putting the spotlight on empathy, with Start Empathy for example, is one example gathering insights and thought leaders of the field. Brené Brown describes it in the wonderful short “The Power of Empathy”.
An empathic approach provide the possibility to listen and explore the solutions of others, and not applying ones own intuitive solutions, which is important for both businesses and people to be able to thrive in a complex and globalized future.
The book Srey – Tales of Urban Girlhood, to be released in January 2017 on Dokument Press, tells the story of girls living on the outer rim of the value chain, on the dumpsites of Phnom Pehn. In this documentary book they share their unique experiences with people across the world. But it is not a story to distract or entertain you. It is an opportunity to listen to and learn from people affected by the side effects of global consumption. Those on the other side of the value chain. And it is an opportunity to reflect on what this means to you. To me. To the ones of us how are about to go into a holiday season of extravagance and indulgence.
Srey is a part of the work on building knowledge around that which lies beyond sustainability: Human Centered Business. Our society fails to equip our future leaders with knowledge on how they can understand empathetic meetings with different stakeholder groups. Srey gives decision-makers and business leaders an entry and an opportunity to start.
The ones on the bottom and outer rims of the value chain, like Srey, have no interest in preserving the status quo, which entails that they can challenge common beliefs and truths that business leaders sometimes take for granted. The people faced and exposed with problems, also carry insights and knowledge of potential solutions that business leaders are unaware of.
But it isn’t just business leaders, politicians or policy makers who benefit from gaining the information that lies in empathetic meetings – we all can. What you do and consume inadvertently affect others, which underlines the importance of empathetic meetings, from dumpsites to boardrooms. Srey’s problems are our shared problems, even if they are not affecting you in this moment.
Srey’s stories make it obvious how all people are connected through garbage and transactions, but also through bad decision-making due to a lack of information. The importance of empathetic meetings is equal for all businesses and sectors. We are in a dire need to equip our future leaders with new tools to meet future demands, which Srey’s clearly illustrates. The skill of empathy, equips leaders to make good decisions in a rapidly changing world.