The Israel-Hamas war is multi-faceted, violent, nuanced and evolving, and it can seem easier to not say anything rather than risk making a statement that could inflame others.  However, your employees – and in many cases, your clients, customers and partners – are looking to you as a leader to address what is happening.

So how do you craft what to say?

  • Lead with empathy, acknowledging how deeply painful this time is for so many.  Given this war has deep and complex humanitarian, ideological, religious and historical aspects and implications, it is unlikely anyone is not impacted in some way in you organization.


  • Identify the specific ways your organization is impacted, whether that be employees based in the war zone or nearby regions, products and/or services you offer in the region, business partners, clients and customers who are impacted, family and friends of employees, and beyond

  • Ground your statements in your organization’s principles and values.  These should be your guiding light.  Use these to craft the language you use and the support you provide.

  • Stay focused on the human impact in your organization and provide specific ways you are providing support to those in need.  This can include listening sessions with moderators or counselors, added access to therapists, flexible schedules and time off for those who need space to process the impact of the war, financial support for families of employees impacted, added security for employees who are concerned about the threat of hate crimes or personal attacks, and more.

  • Acknowledge that ERGs and other smaller group employee support mechanisms can be spaces for listening, support and community building — and make sure they have the resources in place to enable this to happen

  • Acknowledge the nuance, complexity, and ever-changing nature of this war – and that it is happening in parallel with the continued Ukraine-Russia war and on the heels of the pandemic and social justice movements that have been deeply emotional and exhausting for so many 

  • Remind employees that harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated under any circumstances to help ensure that your employees feel safe at work

  • Identify multiple ways for employees to reach out to leaders with questions, concerns or requests for support

Too many organizations learned the hard way that not saying anything in times of conflict and trauma alienates and creates distrust among employees and partners.  Lean into empathy, focus on providing safe spaces and support, and listen to what your employees tell you they need.  That, combined with staying true to your mission and values, will take you down the right path for your organization.

by Jamey Applegate

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