Creating empathy – as discussed by Porway and others is an important aspect of applying data science or any type of innovation/technology for social good. Empathy can be a driving force through which diverse parties gain a greater understanding of and respect for each other. Empathy can play a powerful role in socially-minded data science competitions, hackathons and other frameworks. Empathy forces us to ask the question “What can I do for you?” as Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil has stated.
As studies by Daniel Batson, Nancy Eisenberg and others in the American Psychological Association have shown, people with more empathy are more likely to help others in need. But cultivating an altruistic spirit is a process. Making caring for others a priority and setting high ethical expectations, you can embrace what it means to be empathetic. I think the answer to a lot of big or small societal problems will be solved when we blend data and technical expertise with compassion and empathy.
Great leadership will recognize that the ability to bring compassion into the data world not only helps humanity but could also help the business’ bottom line. A company can be profitable by creating a reputation of being a “helper”, “leader” and “doer.” As mentioned by the Fast Company, ‘when you step into your customer’s shoes, it’s easier to walk miles ahead of the competition.’ Genuine empathy and care for customers distinguish the great companies from the rest of the pack. And creating meaningful social good data products on purpose is just the beginning of how empathy, data and technology intersect for a positive economic impact.