(Phillip Morris International)

Empathetic leadership programme

Business challenge

The organisation started their ED&I journey a while back. However, they faced a key challenge with leadership buy-in. In 2021, the organisation aimed to change the focus from diversity to inclusion, drive a leadershipled culture change in the organisation and take a scientific approach to inclusion and well-being.  

Description of work:

IDC delivered an Empathetic Leadership Programme to all leaders and managers at PMI.  

First, we conducted group leadership coaching sessions to understand the managers and leaders, their leadership styles, strengths, and areas of improvement. We aimed to get buy-in from them and align EDI objectives to overall business objectives. We asked the participants challenging questions to reveal certain barriers in their behaviours that prevent an inclusive culture at the workplace. A big takeaway from these sessions was heightened awareness, priming the participants to get into the right state of mind to absorb the actual learning content and increasing the likelihood of active engagement in the facilitation sessions that follow.  

We then rolled out the Empathetic Leadership Programme. The programme included 6 modules including an introduction to Empathy and Empathetic Leadership Style, The Power of Vulnerability and Authenticity in Leadership, Fostering Empathy, Effective Feedback and Dealing with Conflicts, Creating Inclusive and Collaborative Teams as well as Self and Contextual Awareness and Leadership Styles. The participants committed to a habit at the beginning of these sessions and practised it throughout the programme. 

Finally, we conducted reflection sessions to ensure that the learning is secured and truly understood. We provided an opportunity for employees to reflect on, engage more deeply with what they have learnt and create personal connections to the subject matter. It was a safe space to discuss and work through any increased awareness about personally displayed behaviours or traits that are discriminative and non-inclusive to prevent guilt and remorse. Participants identified and made further personal commitments to ensure sustained change at the organisation. 


Through this project, IDC was able to create: 

  • A more open and transparent culture at the organisation.  
  • Increased awareness and empathy in leaders for all employees and differing perspectives and experiences.  
  • More confidence amongst leaders when talking about ED&I with their teams and colleagues.  
  • A foundational understanding of ED&I to effectively communicate and collaborate as a team.   
  • A sense of empowerment and feeling of being heard and valued amongst all employees. 
  • Consistent incorporation of inclusive habits that got embedded into work routines. 

About the company:

IPM India is a country affiliate of Philip Morris International, Inc. (PMI), a cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company, with products sold in over 180 countries. 

Inclusive habits embedded in the work culture

A foundational understanding of ED&I established

"The Empathetic Leadership programme has been one of the most insightful programmes I've been on, it has made me reflect as a leader during one of the most challenging years for PMI and helped us create an inclusive culture that is driving business performance. The sessions have been so engaging, thought provoking, the mixture of data driven research (IDC's own), alongside their deep psychology expertise has meant that all my leaders have engaged with the learning content. For myself as the MD of PMI, adopting a new habit and sticking to this has been difficult but has had the greatest impact on how I lead, I have noticed a change in the leaders around me and we are making better, more informed business decisions."

~ Alex Reisch, Managing Director India

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What we’re talking about

Johanna launched In Diverse Company in 2019 out of a strong belief that there was a better way to create and measure inclusive cultures.

We live by our values, and our approach to our own recruitment policy, team and purpose reflects this. We are a tech company driven by a senior team that are experts in people, with one of the only female CEOs of a HR tech platform across the world.

Our Learning Platform, Include™ is the only LXP that combines Learning and Engagement. Include aims to create more inclusive working cultures and is underpinned by social and behavioural psychology principles.