Why Emotional Intelligence is Key for Inclusive Workplaces

Migration and globalisation mean workplaces are becoming more culturally diverse. Longer life expectancy and economic need to continue work mean there is greater age diversity. Many more women are working and holding more senior roles, which increases gender diversity.

There are also the less visible kinds of diversity; On any given team, there is likely to be people with very different personalities, experiences, education, views, attitudes, tenure, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Due to increasing diversity in the workplace, it’s important to be able to intentionally create inclusive organisations that accept and welcome differences, in order to maximise the benefits of diversity.

How do we develop this?

The key is Emotional Intelligence.

Research by Ali Shalfrooshan, Philippa Riley, and Mary Mescal was carried out to assess what behaviours are associated with intercultural competence; That is, the ability to work effectively with diverse people and communities.

Their research was with the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). The MPS’ ability to work effectively with a wide range of different cultures is essential, as in London, there are over 300 languages are spoken and over 14 faiths practised.

Through interviews, they identified that the behaviours associated with intercultural competence are:
1. Empathy
2. Relationship-building
3. Open-mindedness
4. Resilience
5. Flexibility
6. Orientation towards Learning

Emotional Intelligence

The EQ-i model of Emotional Intelligence, pictured below, has 15 subscales, which are highly relevant to these behaviours.

For example, Empathy, Interpersonal skills, and Flexibility are subscales within the EQ-i. Having an Orientation towards Learning relates to the Self-Actualisation subscale, which covers a person’s desire to continually grow and develop themselves. Being Resilient and Open-minded are also captured under the Flexibility and Stress Management subscales.

Diversity has the potential to facilitate creative thinking and more effective problem-solving and decision-making, but it can also increase conflict and mistrust, and reduce communication and identification if it is not managed well.

Developing Emotional Intelligence helps us to understand ourselves and recognise biases, build relationships, see different perspectives, set shared goals, and be adaptable to change. These important skills help maximise the benefits of diversity, which can benefit the lives of individuals and the livelihood of organisations as a whole.


Want to know more about Emotional Intelligence and how it can enhance your own, your team’s, or your organisation’s performance? Get in touch via the contact details below, or visit here for more information, sample reports, and brochure.