Applying Big City Lessons of Compassion to Business

By: Maaheem "Mak" Akhtar

Downtown Louisville at Dusk

Compassion is defined as the feeling that arises when you’re confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. It’s usually dismissed as a cheesy concept, imagined as holding hands and singing kumbaya around a campfire.

However, science will tell you otherwise. A growing body of research on compassion shows a vast array of benefits, including faster healing and even appearing more attractive. Recently, it’s been found that altruism even impacts business – both customers and employees. There’s a positive correlation between compassionate behavior, work satisfaction and company success. So the kinder your workforce is, the happier they are and the greater your profits as a business are. Sounds like a win-win-win to us.

It’s no wonder that the Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, Greg Fischer has made the spread of human kindness his life’s work. And guess what? It’s working. In 2011, Mayor Fischer signed a resolution committing to a multi-year Compassionate Louisville campaign – making it an international compassionate city, the largest city in America with that distinction.

Since he took office in 2011, the city has:

  • Added 63,000 jobs and 2,900 new businesses;
  • Seen unemployment drop by more than half, and household incomes and median wages rise. In 2015 alone, more than 10,000 Louisvillians lifted themselves out of poverty. More than 7,000 Louisville families joined the middle class.

That’s no small feat… and now we know why he’s so popular on Twitter.

We hosted Mayor Fischer in a recent webcast to learn what inspired him to adopt a model of altruism in office. He left us with fantastic insight on how to apply those lessons to build a kinder work culture to impact both internal and external business success.

In today’s day and age, we need it more than ever in every home, office and community.

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