Empathy at the Workplace
I recently stumbled across an article on The Star by Dan Jolivet in 2018 about a disabled employee named Scott who had lost his eye-sight due to a genetic disorder when he was only a few months old.
There was a time in Scott’s life where he spent endless hours at a desk doing absolutely nothing despite being an excellent marketing analysis graduate from a business college. He was often referred to as “Scott the Blind”. Although it hurt him to be referred to only by his disability, it also made him wonder about the culture we live in—that the only thing people would say about him was his blindness.
He knew that according to the law, companies had to hire people like him in order to fill a governmental quota, yet they were not trying to use any of his capacities. Scott had talked it out with his manager yet nothing seemed to change. His manager either became too overprotective or treated him like a child who wasn’t capable of fulfilling a task. That’s when he realised that they showed him sympathy instead of empathy.
Scott’s cheerful spirit slowly faded as time passed. Thus, he made the decision to leave. He stated that he never regretted it. With constant motivation, perseverance and endless amounts of hard work, Scott is now a marketing analyst for his multi-national corporation. He was no longer referred to as “Blind Scott’’, but “Scott the Challenger” and “The Excellent Analyst”.
“I am not disabled, I am just differently capable." —Scott
From this short story, we can learn that many companies tend to develop a sympathy mindset towards disabilities. This makes it hard for people with disabilities to stay in the workforce due to the focus on the disabled employee’s limitations instead of abilities.
We should reconstruct our societies to have new occupations, whereby companies develop new strategies that recognise disabilities despite colour, gender, ethnicity, status etc. This unique approach will help strengthen new thinking to reinforce inclusion and lead with empathy in the workplace.
This is the third part of a series of articles on empathy. The next article will be up next Friday, so watch this space!
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