Enterprise lingo such as Chief Digital Officer has already hit the mainstream, and in light of today’s digital transformation, combined with the accelerated appearance of Gen Z in the workplace, companies everywhere have realized how crucial it is to adapt and embrace the CDO role as an augmentation of the CTO and CIO positions. But what is the Chief Empathy Officer (CeO)? While some organizations have begun to integrate this new C-Suite position, it is still relatively new in terms of adoption. Because of Gen Z’s emphasis on workplace culture and their deep understanding of a need to foster emotional connection in order to spearhead the human-centric future, Gen Z was built for this role.
First thing’s first, let’s define empathy, and then let’s talk about why enterprises have been digging deeper into the CeO position. Empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” Now that we have a solid definition of empathy, we can begin to explore the why of enterprise motivation to include this role. According to The Next Web,
“... empathy remains the necessary starting point to understanding customers’ motivations, needs, desires, and behaviors, and it’s the secret sauce in delivering products and experiences that foster brand loyalty and propel the company ahead of competitors… Empathy has become such a crucial business tool that a whopping 91 percent of CEOs surveyed for a Businessolver report said they believe empathy is directly linked to a company‘s financial performance.”
Based on this information, it is clear that in a business setting empathy serves as an entirely separate input in its own right, and provides a significant piece of the enterprise value chain that directly impacts ROI. Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 Crisis, companies who champion the empathetic approach, focus on the human experience, and support their employee and customer base are the ones that will remain resilient. As such, it makes sense why CEOs have begun to integrate CeOs as part of the C-Suite. Now, this is great and all, but why will Gen Z be the generation to rock and roll the CeO position?
First and foremost, Gen Z is a highly empathetic and emotionally caring generation. According to Marketing Dive, “Generation Z is more concerned with its mental and physical health than millennials or Generation X.” So Gen Z’s behavior as a demographic already naturally predisposes it to take great interest in the CeO position. Lastly, having been born into a time of great instability characterized by a post 9/11 world and 2008 Great Recession, and having further been thrown into an early-life flurry as a result of Coronavirus, Gen Z deeply understands the need for emotional connection, support, and empathy. Taking all of this into account, it comes as no surprise as to why Gen Z is ready to transform enterprises as Chief Empathy Officers.