An organization recently approached me after a diversity, equity, and inclusion survey uncovered a few inconvenient truths. One of the first recommendations I suggested was to launch a series of listening sessions that would enable them to dive deep with those who felt underrepresented.

After meeting with the different groups, asking them questions, and genuinely listening to their experiences, we quickly uncovered a culture that included microaggressions and hurtful language. After listening to these concerns, I worked with the teams to help them implement the change they want to see. 

I spoke of the importance of ensuring that everyone shows up and makes everyone feel like they belong. In the listening group, one gentleman said to me, “I want you to know that we are putting everything in your hands. Make sure that what we’re saying gets to the leaders at the top and that something gets done.”

I pride myself on being someone passionate about being the bridge between the voice of the employee and the leaders who can do something to change the experience. But the gentleman’s powerful words were also a timely reminder and a positive wake-up call that I should never get too complacent or lazy. Creating a culture of listening is not a box-ticking exercise. It’s about taking the responsibility of listening and giving everyone a voice seriously.

The message I received was that all employees need a voice. In larger organizations, it’s harder to have a voice and feel like you matter. This is something that we must change together by creating a culture of listening. When your employees feel heard, they feel powerful, and that delivers value to your organization.

Sadly, there are still many managers who underestimate the critical importance of creating a listening culture. I have seen time and time again the impacts of executive leaders failing to pay attention to those they lead when managers fail to properly advocate the voices of those at their level to the next level, the culture of listening breaks down.

It’s only when the culture of listening, responsiveness, and caring is broken that many organizations will turn to outside resources to ensure their employees are being heard. When creating a listening culture, it’s also critical that you take positive action after you’ve listened. 

There is a powerful connection between empathy and compassion. By daring to step in someone else’s shoes, you can combine empathy, compassion, and action to start alleviating the pain of others. But the journey will begin with the desire to build a culture of listening and using the voices of your employees to drive their diversity, equity inclusion strategy. 

Your customers and employees depend on you to create a culture of listening. A big thank you to the gentlemen in my recent listening session for reminding me of why I started helping organizations develop a culture of listening and a determination to ensure that every voice is heard.

Does your organization have a culture of listening? If you want to explore this topic further, please reach out to me.