As the Israel-Hamas war continues to ignite heated debates in our workplaces, it’s a reminder of the delicate balancing act leaders face: trying to uphold their organization’s moral values and commitment to inclusion, while preventing tensions from fracturing teams and impacting productivity. 

This crisis isn’t the first to present this challenge, nor will it be the last, and it isn’t naive to expect that it will get worse before it gets better. According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, only 20% of people are willing to have a coworker that strongly disagrees with them or their views. Our world is polarized and trust in US institutions is on a continued decline, recent Gallup polling found, which means that we can expect the heavy lifting to be a responsibility of the private sector. At the same time, Edelman’s data also found that business is currently the only institution seen as competent and ethical, with a growing distrust for government and media. Employees are not only requiring leaders to act, but are clear that they want to see their organizations as agents for meaningful change. So where do we go from here?  

Back to basics. Successfully making it through this charged moment—and coming out on the other side with a culture that feels as supportive and inclusive as ever—relies on a foundation of longer-term, organization-wide skills around conflict navigation. Here are some principles to ground your company-wide communication and how you guide and support employees through interpersonal and group conflict:

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