How to Create a Culture of Empathy, Awareness & Inclusion

5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy, Awareness & Inclusion

There are real challenges for organisations seeking to build diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures. However, with deliberate effort across five key areas, you can plant the seeds for empathy, awareness and true belonging to grow. So, let’s explore the ways in which organisations can begin to create a culture of empathy, awareness and inclusion.

1. Listen First, Judge Later

A common barrier to empathy and awareness is quick judgment before truly listening. When team members share personal experiences, others must listen fully with curiosity and compassion, suspending snap judgments. Leaders who model this open listening make their people feel respected enough to open up. Reserved judgment creates space for understanding.

Our Agile Team Coach (ICP-ACC) course is an effective way to build and practice your deep listening skills.

2. Highlight Shared Values

Despite surface differences, most people share fundamental values like dignity, compassion and justice. Common ground emerges when these shared principles are underscored as organisational cornerstones. Build connection by discussing decisions through a lens of common values. Remind people of their shared hopes and humanity in order to expand empathy for each other.

A graphic recording of a professionally facilitated session where you co-create and agree your company values serves as a beautiful takeaway and visual reminder (we can help with this).

3. Go Below the Surface

Personal and cultural differences can create an illusion of broader separation between team members. Build bonds by deliberately having conversations that go below surface distinctions to find common ground. This starts with leaders sharing their own genuine stories and vulnerabilities to model openness.

4. Make Equity Non-Negotiable

Leaders must establish workplace equity and mutual respect as absolute, non-negotiable principles, not just nice-to-haves. This means addressing exclusionary behaviours immediately, while preventing unequal access to opportunities and resources. Uphold standards with a clear escalation process. No one should feel unsafe or unable to thrive because of differences.

What do we mean by equity? Here is a definition by NACE.
“Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognising that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances. The process is ongoing, requiring us to identify and overcome intentional and unintentional barriers arising from bias or systemic structures.”

5. Weave in Reflection

Pause frequently as a group to reflect on moments of exclusion, biases and missed opportunities for empathy. Commit to regular retrospective sessions to discuss cases, learn about blindspots and strengthen belonging. Make time for both giving kudos for positive behaviours and addressing areas for growth to challenge assumptions.

With core values embedded and constant reinforcement, empathy and inclusion can permeate an organisation’s cultural fabric, enabling all people to feel safe, seen and valued for their unique contributions.

Want to Create a Culture of Empathy, Awareness & Inclusion in Your Organisation?

We can help! Together with our sister company, Bryter Work, we have over 10 years of experience in supporting organisations just like yours to make working life better through training, coaching, mentoring and workshops. We partner with you to establish psychological safety, grow leadership skills, unlock your organisation’s full potential and achieve outstanding outcomes together.

Get in touch to request a discovery meeting and find out how we can help you build a culture where everyone is valued and included.

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