How Does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Relate to Emotional Intelligence?
By Krista McClinton
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a crucial component of organizational success and not just the “right thing” to do. Inclusive cultures create increased innovation between teams and throughout organizations.
Diversity includes making deliberate efforts toward inclusion. It seeks and embraces a wide range of perspectives within a group, not just allowing different viewpoints. Each person in a group is like no other, all with different perspectives, qualities, and experiences that can provide depth and value.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is needed to function effectively anywhere, however, additional aspects are required where we are bombarded daily with differences in areas such as values, language, behaviors, preferences, and norms. Sometimes, unfamiliar ways can be intriguing or confusing, and can produce an emotional, as well as, an intellectual response. These emotional reactions lead to behaviors that can be effective, or ineffective, depending on our ability to cope appropriately with our feelings.
EQ includes tools needed to implement DEI ideals in our teams and workplace. Strong EQ provides a deliberate pathway to an end goal of an organization that promotes DEI efforts. This occurs through understanding and being intentional about the behaviors that individuals exhibit. It provides tools to better collaborate and to utilize the diverse skills and experiences of the people around us.
Emotional Intelligence enhances diversity and inclusion in the workplace by:
- Developing empathy: Empathetic individuals are able to put themselves in the shoes of others to understand circumstances. Empathy is at the core of successful leadership in diverse groups; it is a crucial skill in dealing with differences and helps build stronger relationships.
- Reducing Unconscious bias: The benefit of unconscious bias is that it can help us to make quick decisions. Knowledge of unconscious bias alone is not enough to reduce workplace bias. EQ can mitigate the impact of unconscious bias by improving self-awareness, assertiveness, adaptability, and impulse control.
- Creating an Inclusive Culture: As the saying goes, “Diversity is a reality, but inclusion is a choice.” EQ provides relationship management skills to make an inclusive culture a reality. Unless you consciously include, you will unconsciously exclude.
- Improving Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a regular practice of emotionally intelligent individuals. Understanding inner emotions are important to determining responses to various social situations.
The foundational ingredient in the recipe for workplace solid DEI ideals is emotionally intelligent leaders and teams. Having EQ allows individuals to embody relationship management and to understand DEI work, promoting an ability to focus on building connections with coworkers. Individuals with high EQ have the ability to engage in uncomfortable conversations and enjoy hearing ideas that challenge preconceived notions. Ultimately, strong EQ allows trust-building and creates a collaborative space where team members feel seen, heard, and respected.