Firstly, let’s unpack the meaning of kindness. The Collins English Dictionary defines kindness as ‘the quality of being gentle, caring, and helpful’, Wikipedia describes kindness as a ‘type of behaviour marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward’. Some other, oft-used synonyms include altruism, decency, hospitality, humanity, patience, philanthropy, thoughtfulness… and let’s not forget about compassion – a word synonymous with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who in a recent conversation on The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity, said ‘our lives depend on the community in which we live, so compassion and consideration for others is a biological necessity’.
An ancient Greek proverb states ‘kindness begets kindness’, which simply means that the more kindness is practiced, the more it keeps showing up. A 2016 study conducted by Jamil Zaki, associate professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory, found that kindness is actually contagious – it ‘evolves as it diffuses’. We are much more likely to practice kindness when we witness others doing the same.
The Benefits of Kindness
If as the Dalai Lama suggests, kindness is a ‘biological necessity’, then it plays a pivotal role in our lives and consequently, our relationships. We could go so far as to say it is the glue that sticks everything together. ‘Doing’ business is all about relationships, so without kindness, how can we, as individuals and organisations, truly thrive and prosper? Kindness is proving so invaluable it has actually been touted as a new economy. However… can we really pair the concept of kindness with the concept of economy (#capitalism), surely there has to be a catch. There is. However, not the way you would expect.
The Kindness Economy
There is a fantastic podcast by Mary Portas which talks all about the ‘Kindness Economy’, where it is showing up, and why it is important. In short, the Kindness Economy is about reimagining how we do business and, as Portas puts it, considers ‘giving back to people and the planet as important as making a profit’. Some examples that come to our mind of businesses operating within this Kindness Economy include Young Henry’s, The Social Outfit, Raisley, Who Gives A Crap and Bank Australia. Key tenets of these organisations include community, sustainability, diversity & inclusion, empowerment, wellbeing, equality, opportunity, accessibility, empathy and authenticity.
If the uncertainty of the past twelve months has taught us anything, it’s that a little kindness goes a long way. You’ll most likely be familiar with the saying ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’. Perhaps it’s about time we started to say: Be the kindness you wish to see in the world.
As a way to recognise and celebrate KIND leaders and KIND businesses, Bambuddha Group, with the generous support of Blooms the Chemist, Cisco, Fujitsu, Australian Community Media and many other sponsors, will host the Corporate Kindness Conference and Awards on 3 July. Nominations close on 31 May and are open to corporate/businesses and social enterprises. There are four main categories for business including People and Culture, Community, Environment and Customers. If you know of a business or leader which embodies the qualities of kindness and whose actions deserve to be acknowledged, you can nominate them here. If you’d like to join us for this event, you can purchase your ticket(s) here. ‘Early Bird’ pricing is available until 30 April!
Clementine Barnes is a kindness lead, Sydney-based artist and facilitator, who currently works in the NFP sector and recently worked on a collaborative textile print project with The Social Outfit, a Sydney-based Social Enterprise that provides training and employment opportunities to Sydney’s new migrant and refugee community. Focusing on why kindness is important in business, Barnes unpacks the meaning of kindness, its benefits, and the uplifting it brings to an organisation.