Leadership starts with Empathy

Leadership and empathy How many times in the middle of a conversation you thought: Gosh! I wished they could see my side, or feel the way I feel?

Or on the other spectrum have you ever felt that you needed to change the way you respond emotionally to others because your performance evaluation called for better communication and interpersonal skills

Either, or the solution believe it or not, is simple, maybe not that simple for everyone but let us put it that way it is attainable with a will to personally grow and to better build relationships with others that are different than we are, diverse from who we are, and feel or believe different values than we do.

The solution is actually called “Empathy” which means the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another; in simple English it means putting yourself or walking few steps in someone else shoes to understand where they are coming from or why they are acting/ thinking the way they do, before we let our unconscious bias and prejudice settle in and judge them based on our beliefs and values.

When I was younger and single I used to say I rather have someone in my life that gets me, is kind to me, and truly cares about me than loving me; I never realized that what I was saying is that I wanted someone that is empathetic about who I am and how I feel.

I am HUGE on empathy, I feel it is such a simple process, it is going back to basics of being a human being, it is simply recognizing emotions in others, granting them the right to be who they are, and it can be the solution to so many issues in our society like bullying, discrimination and stereotyping; it is sad that we do not embrace it more in our daily lives. Empathy is not a kumbaya song and is not a touchy feely emotion, it is an ability that originates from the heart and not the mind, it is a willingness to be kind and to care about others and not start with WIIIFM (what is in it for me)

Empathy is at the core of who we are as Human beings, though it has been an ignored emotion in our daily tumultuous world, the world is full of other people, and we can’t escape their influence on our life. It’s far better to accept this, and to decide to build relationships and understanding, rather than try to stand alone all of the time. The good news is that it is a learned ability or a re-learned ability where we can reform ourselves for it.

Empathy starts since a very early age, actually since we are born, so we see in one year old infants, they get anguish if they see their mother or their caretaker crying or hurt and they manifest their empathy by sucking their thumbs or crying themselves; later on when they see another child crying in kindergarten they try to offer their toy to soothe their pain.

To be empathic, you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns. Once you see beyond your own world, you’ll realize that there’s so much to discover and appreciate!

Empathy is at the basic principles of Emotional Intelligence (which we will discuss in future posts), recent studies have shown that Emotional Intelligence is a requisite in great leadership, leaders that have emotional intelligence have better influencing skills and have followers believing in them.

In the workplace, managers are valued more for their people skills than their technical knowledge as per the Washington Business Journal, I have seen it many times, hardworking managers that have a lot of experience not moving up or barely advancing in their careers as they lack bedside manners or people skills. Emotional Intelligence and mainly empathy is getting in touch with one’s emotions and managing them when interacting with others for better managerial effectiveness.

This is a long post, I am posting it in three parts, so till next time!

Let your differences make a difference in the world

Connect with me on:
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC




I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

Why Diversity training alone doesn’t work…

First appeared on “LinkedIn Pulse

Why Diversity training alone doesn't workIn my “6 advantages to diversity in the workplace” post, I listed the main reasons why there is a growing realization by managers in US companies to look at the advantages of multi-racial clientele (both internal and external):

  • There is a huge demographic shift in the US companies where more than three quarters of new employees are non-Caucasian, the shift is also reflected on a larger extent in the changing pool of customers.
  • The potential for growth of diversity, in terms of heightened collective creativity and Entrepreneurial energy

That means that US companies have an increasing needs for their employees to not only appreciate people from diverse culture (and markets), put any bias aside, but also to turn that appreciation to competitive advantage.

So, even if people bring prejudice to work with them, they must learn to act as though they have none. The reasons, over and above human decency, are sensible.

This means that the organizational cultures must change forcing not only the tolerance, but the acceptance of differences, even if individual biases remain.

I know it is easier said than done, the sad fact is that the one day of training, one video, or single weekend diversity training courses do not really seem to budge the bias of those employees that have deep prejudice against one or another, whether it be male against female, baby boomer against Millennial, African American against Hispanics, or heterosexuals against people of different sexual orientation and vice versa in all of these cases.

Actually some of the diversity courses, can cause more damage than help especially if conducted by facilitators that use blame and guilt methods in their training; some of these programs can raise false expectation by promising too much, or simply create an atmosphere of confrontation instead of understanding, generate heightened tensions that divide groups in the workplace, calling even greater attention to these differences, and creating more exclusion than inclusion where it becomes “US” vs. “THEM”. To understand what can be done, it helps to first understand the nature of prejudice itself

The roots of prejudice

Some hatred to one another as individuals, groups, ethnicities, religions or even sexual orientation are rooted in childhood memories that keep this hatred alive over the years, as each new generation is steeped in hostile biases like the one before.

The psychological price of loyalty to one’s own group can be antipathy toward another, especially when there is a long history of hostility between the groups.

Prejudices are a kind of emotional learning that occurs early in life, making these reactions especially hard to eradicate entirely, even in people who as adults feel it is wrong to hold them and consider themselves open minded people. The emotions of prejudice start in childhood while the beliefs that are used to justify them come later in life.

Even if you take a moment to try to change your prejudice, understand that it is a lot easier to change your intellectual beliefs then your deep feelings. In your mind you may no longer feel prejudice, but you can still feel woozy if you need to deal one on one with a person from that background depending on the circumstances.

The power of the stereotypes, in the mind, are that they are self-confirming. It is theunconscious bias that we all have where we are more readily to remember instances that support the stereotype while tending to discount instances that challenge it.

The danger is not only from being bias, but from the more subtle forms of bias or acting with covert bias, where a rationale other than prejudice is given to justify bias actions.

For example: A male senior manager who believes that he has no prejudices rejecting a female job applicant, allegedly not because of her gender, but because her education and experience are not quite right for the job, while hiring a male applicant with about the same background. Or it might take the form of giving better performance evaluation for an employee that went to the same Ivy school, or came from the same city, share the same political beliefs, or even share the same ethnicity than to someone else from a different background at the same level of performance.



Since long-held biases cannot be so easily weeded out, the solutions lie in that:

  • Organizations need to embrace “zero tolerance for intolerance” and not only on papers as many organization do nowadays, where they have dazzling statements on their websites’ vision and mission but are not actually part of their culture.
  • Need to trickle down from the top leadership, who need not only to embrace it by breath it, live by it, and apply it.
  • Need to be part of the performance evaluations of the organizations’ executives tight in with their promotions, rewards and bonuses.

Management cannot turn a blind eye on any bias or prejudice actions, as it allows discrimination to strive. If nothing, is done the consequences is letting the cancer of prejudice spread till it kills the organization

If the climate and culture of an organization is based on the respect of individuals, valuingthem for who they are, and though bias may not budge, but acts of prejudice can be crushed and nipped at the bud

A message must be sent that acting on any racist impulses will be dealt with swiftly and severely. Raising the collective awareness that bias and/ or harassment are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Encourage people to speak out against even minimal acts of discrimination or harassment as offensive jokes, gestures, comments, or as simple as using wall calendars that are demeaning to women.

The simple act of standing for whatever is right and objecting to whatever is wrong establishes a culture where bias and discrimination are rejected. Silence condones the wrong Actions, silence is a form of violence. If you stay silent when someone is treated wrongly, it can be you next time, and you won’t find anyone to speak out for you.

One of the main keys to minimize bias and prejudice is to encourage empathy and acceptance to the degree that people come to understand the pain of those who feel discriminated against, as they put themselves in their shoes.

In summary, it is more practical to try to suppress the expression of bias rather than trying to eliminate the attitude itself; stereotypes change very slowly, if at all. What can make a difference, is sustained team building towards a common goal, highlighting the similarities that we have as human beings rather than the differences, looking at each other as equal peers, increasing solidarity between the teams is maximizing the excellence of a team’s work to work in harmony rather than disarray lets them take advantage of the full talent of every team member. Looking at people as people and not put them in a box (She is women, He is Hispanic, she is too young, he is physically challenged, she is gay) – just deal with people as people, as human beings.

To stop battling prejudice in the workplace is to miss great opportunities that modern organizations can’t afford: Taking advantage of the creative and entrepreneurial possibilities that a diverse workforce can offer, operating in harmony, is likely to come to better, more creative, and more effective solutions than those same people working in isolation. It is time to start uncomfortable conversations to get comfortable and accepting over time.

“Let our differences make a difference in the world”

Connect with me on:

Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC




I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees

#Diversity at the #Oscars

Diversity at the OscarsOne of the best events of the year for me is the “Academy Awards” commonly known as the “Oscars” where achievements In the film industry are honored, I have to admit beside watching the Oscar statues and awards speeches, I love watching the fashion the stars bring in every year, like the best and worst dressed, what color is popular this year and so on.

The Oscars have been first presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 86 years ago.  It has been noticed that most of the winners at the Oscars did not reflect the core of the population watching the movies; most of the awards were won by older white males.

In 2009 – 81 years after the 1st Oscar and for the first time a woman director (Kathryn Bigelow) won the best director award for her movie the “Hurt Locker”

The irony of the FIRST time Oscar win for a movie directed by a black director, and a Hispanic director has not been lost on me.

I find it amazing that after almost a century this is the first time we see acknowledgement of minorities; at least it is a start and a step towards the right direction.

Most minorities as Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans are extremely underrepresented in movies and TV Shows, and portrayed mostly in a negative light, like Middle Eastern are terrorist, Blacks and Mexicans are gang members or are violent or in prison, women are used and abused in most of the movies. A fair note, there are few movies and TV Shows that address minorities in a positive way but they are so far in between and sometimes they do not make it.

We are barely seeing shows about gays and lesbians, about Persians, and Disable people though they are all on cable channels and not on main stream.

The movies should reflect the life and real conditions we live in, the reality of the diverse world we live today not 50 or 70 years ago.  Movies and TV Shows should be an instrumental tool to start dialogues between different groups of people, or at least start an education about the different groups.

A comprehensive study from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA suggests that movies and shows with diverse casts actually earn more at the box office and score higher ratings than productions with homogenous casts.

What will it take to have inclusion in Hollywood?, to actually represent our current diverse population, to honor and respect not only every minority group but to marry the shows with the real diverse population: Men, women, different generations, Hispanics, blacks, Asians, Caucasians, Middle Eastern, people with disabilities, veterans etc… Am I dreaming or can it happen?

This year Oscars’ show wins are an indicator it can happen:

  • Two directors from minority groups’ one black (Best Movie) and one Hispanic (Best Director): Steve McQuinn & Alfonso Cuarón
  • An openly gay presenter: Ellen DeGeneres
  • Best supporting male actor represented a transgender person with AIDs: Jared Leto
  • A Black winner for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave: Lupita Nyong’o, is only the sixth Black woman to win in this category, a far cry from the first African American Oscar winner (Hattie McDaniel) for “Gone with the Wind” where she was segregated at the back of the room –

We have come a long way from there; and we still have a long way to go.  Like I always say “Let our differences make a difference in the World”, I know that change is slow as it takes people out of their comfort zone, as they fear the unknown, but if nothing else let us start a conversation and take it from there

Diversity and Inclusion is part of our daily life, it is here to stay, is not going way, so let us start dealing with the right way, let us respect and accept (not tolerate) each other, educate each other, and move forward to a better life for all

As Cate Blanchet: Best Actress winner puts it” The world is round, People!”

Diversity starts at home,

Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Social Media Strategist
Home of the D.I.A.L.O.G. Programs
Diversity And Inclusion for Leadership Organizational Growth”
T: 818 861 9434 

Sahar Consulting, LLC

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Contact me: Skype SaharConsulting

Why we should care about the “I” in Diversity?

Diversity & InclusionMany people do not have a clear definition of Diversity which is actually about our similarities and our differences combined and includes not only race, religion and ethnicity but also gender, age, abilities and disabilities, veteran or military status, parental status, sexual orientation, education, socio-economic status, geographical locations, jobs, titles and even the diversity of thoughts.  It is the unique characters that make each individual.

That is why I am amazed at how some still see Diversity as meaning affirmative action, quota, checking a box on a form or just a difference of color, race and ethnicity.

Without Inclusion diversity divides and does not unites, without inclusion diversity excludes and does not include; so when thinking about diversity and its advantages in our lives either in the workplace or personal lives it is always important to remember that the most important letter in Diversity is the “I” or Inclusion.

Inclusion helps promoting cooperation, fairness and equity; showing respect for people and their differences; maximizing working with people’s similarities while working to understand perspectives of others; demonstrating empathy; thus bringing out the best in others

An inclusive culture without prejudice or discrimination allows employees to maximize their personal potential and the potential of the organization as it welcomes and support diverse employees that bring fresh ideas, approaches, and innovative collaborative solutions to the table.

Organizations are starting to realize that Diversity and inclusion management is tied to their bottom line revenues and increased customer satisfaction as it not only attracts the best talents but retain them as well.

The sole focus on the need of attracting employees from different backgrounds in recent years by organizations has expanded to include creating a workplace culture of inclusion in which ALL employees male or female, old or young, able or disable, in any position can contribute fully to advancing the organization’s goals.

Diversity and inclusion should not be presented as a program or an initiative, but as a core philosophy embedded in the organizational culture.  Otherwise, employees may see it as the “flavor of the month.”

An inclusive culture will make the employees feel appreciated and valued and when you value people they give you value back; an inclusive culture will create a positive work environment that will increase employee engagement levels where they will feel more comfortable expressing themselves, and willing to take risks to attain better results, as they feel part of the overall plan of the organization.

When all employees feel respected and their voices heard, organizations will reap the maximum benefit from their investment in talent.  That can only give these organizations the competitive edge to succeed in today’s global and diverse world we live in

In closing; in order for the diversity and inclusion efforts to make a difference:

–       It has to be supported by the executive leadership

–       If it has to be tied to performance management and promotions

–       If it has to be aligned with the organization’s key business objectives  and articulated in its mission, vision and core values

Let your differences make a difference in the world!

Diversity Equals Positive Work Environment

This is the sequel to my post the “6 Advantages of Workplace Diversity”
Diversity as a strategic AdvantageA 2010 survey by Gallup Management Journal found that 56 percent of the US workforce are “not-engaged,’ or sleepwalking through their workday, costing their organization money by putting in time without any passion or personal involvement. Fifteen (15) percent of the United States workforce is “actively disengaged,” where employees are unhappy and manifest their unhappiness not only by undermining the efforts of the engaged employees, but also by creating a hostile work environment that is toxic for all employees possibly leaing to workplace violence.

Gallup estimates the lost productivity of actively disengaged employees costs the US economy $450 to 550 BILLION annually.

In February 2010, the number of employees voluntarily quitting surpassed the number being fired or discharged, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The issue becomes how long an organization can afford to survive before dealing with the problem of actively disengaged and disgruntled employees. The solution is available for a fraction of the cost of the loss incurred by these organizations. The solution is fostering a positive work environment through diversity and inclusion, training, action plan, execution and follow-up. Creating an organizational culture where all employees feel valued and a vital part of the organization.

Positive work environment is created when the employees feel that they are part of a team working collectively with the senior management towards common goals, be part of decision making and collaborate towards the success of the organization.

Culture will eat strategy for lunch anytime of the day, so it becomes evident why a culture of respect and acknowledgment goes a long way.

The foundation of positive work environment lies on the commitment of every single person at the organization to engage with each other, manage diversity and inclusion, transparency, develop cross-cultural leadership skills, and being accountable for their individual actions, progress and goal achievements.

It is very simple Value your number one asset i.e. employees they will value back and will give you their heart and soul, as an organization and an employer you need to apply the Golden rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself”, I would add treat others not only as you want to be treated but the way THEY want to be treated

The most successful workplaces are those in which everyone works well together to create a positive work environment by living the mission, vision and core values of the organization, in alignment with its culture of respecting the diverse talents, valuing and embracing the differences.

In a positive work environment teamwork is appreciated and builds on each others’ strengths and abilities; a strong belief that every single employee is unique and bring their own unique abilities and capabilities to the table and have the right to be treated with dignity and respect; Diversity & Inclusion are weaved through the threads of the organization’s culture where exclusive clubs and ISMs do not exist

Diversity starts at home.

Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC. – Home of the D.I.A.L.O.G.™ Programs
Diversity& Inclusion in Active Leadership Organizational Growth
(Exchanging Ideas through Conversation)
(818)861 9434

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6 advantages of Workplace Diversity


Workplace Diversity

Workplace Diversity

Why should 0rganizations and businesses care about Diversity & Inclusion now?

Diversity and inclusion affect not only the businesses’ people and operations internally but also their customers, suppliers, and other external stakeholders.

The most important key ingredient in this shift is:

A)    The changing demographics in the US. Minorities, now roughly one-third of the US population, are expected to become the majority by 2042. Considering consumer purchasing power in 2013, Hispanics will account for 9.9 % of all US buying power; African-Americans will have an 8.8% share; and Asians will represent a 5.4% share, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) will reach a  buying power of $835 billion by 2013 (as per some surveys)

B)    Globalization, and the changing faces—in terms of language, culture, and religion—of both customers and workers will represent an even more diverse mix.

C)   Generational gaps: The new trend the trend of people living longer and retiring later, resulted in four distinct generations working side by side—conservatives, baby boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y or Millennials—each with its own mind-set, work habits, technology attitudes, and customs.

D)   Increasing number of dual-income families and single working mothers

Leading companies know it’s essential to consistently maintain diversity as a top business imperative over a period of, at minimum, five years before diversity can gain traction and become part of the way those companies do business.  True diversity is not just about the mix that constitutes the workforce; it’s also about a company’s customers and business partners.


Global Diversity

Advantages of Workplace Diversity:

Businesses are recognizing the need and importance of investing in diversity and inclusion as part of their overall talent management practices and to continually challenge their organizations to make the connection between those principles and their corporate performance..  Diversity is especially crucial in today’s global marketplace, as companies interact with different cultures and clients.  The payoffs touch every area of the business by potentially resulting in increased creativity, increased productivity, new attitudes, new language skills, global understanding, new processes, and new solutions to difficult problems. greater agility, better market insight, stronger customer and community loyalty, innovation, and improved employee recruitment and retention.  The businesses that fail to see the importance of Diversity and inclusion might find themselves unable to attract and retain the kinds of customers, employees, and business partners that constitute our changing world in 5 to 10 years

Among the advantages of diversity in the workplace are:

  1. Increased Productivity: Diversity and Inclusion brings in diverse different talents together working towards a common goal using different sets of skills that ignites their loyalty and increases their retention and productivity
  2. Increased creativity and Problem solving: With so many different and diverse minds coming together many more solutions will arise as every individual brings in their way of thinking, operating and solving problems and decision making
  3. Attract and Retain talent that add a competitive edge to any organization.  Feeling included and appreciated increases loyalty and feeling of belonging.  Language skills pool is increased and propels organization forward either to compete in the International global world or to increase its diverse customer base
  4. Help to build synergy in teams and enhances communication skills that brings in new attitudes and processes that profit the whole team
  5. Applying the proper diversity& inclusion management strategies does not only save money on litigation expenses generated by discrimination lawsuits but is the right thing to do for the business.
  6. It increases market share and create a satisfied diverse customer base by relating to people from different backgrounds.  It does propel the United States and its status to claim its place and success in the global business world of the 21st century

The advantages of diversity& Inclusion embracing affects the base line revenues of any organization and can be the make or break of any business.  Ignoring the effects or the existence of diversity in this global new market will only keep organizations back loosing on all the productivity and most important profitability of any business and its core of existence.


Sahar Andrade