The benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace have been widely discussed. The benefits are many, ranging from innovation to customer satisfaction to engaged teams and enhanced revenue. However, we are aware that establishing a culture of inclusion and diversity is difficult. Research conducted in recent years has shown a correlation between Emotional Intelligence and Inclusion and Diversity. Research has shown that teams with higher levels of emotional intelligence are also more inclusive.

Let us attempt to understand how Emotional Intelligence leads to Inclusion and Diversity.

We should begin by understanding what Emotional Intelligence is. Emotional Intelligence is defined by Daniel Goldman as “the ability to recognize, assess, and control one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and the emotions of groups”. A person with emotional intelligence is more likely to understand other people and to build a sense of trust and psychological safety. When we are able to understand others, we tend to be more inclusive. Here are a few key drivers of Emotional Intelligence that make us more inclusive and open to diversity:

  1. Empathy – In its simplest form, empathy is defined as the ability to understand the feelings of others. It involves putting yourself in another person’s position. A higher level of empathy is associated with higher levels of emotional intelligence. Being able to empathize with others also makes us aware of where people who are different from us come from – what shapes their perspective, outlook, and what they require from their surroundings. Understanding is the first step towards inclusion, as only through understanding can we accept.
  2. Overcoming Bias – Biases are the biggest roadblock to diversity and inclusion. To overcome biases, one must become acutely aware of their own biases. Emotional intelligence is directly related to the ability to be self-aware. Self-awareness is one of the pillars of emotional intelligence. A person with higher emotional intelligence is also more self-aware; they spend time reflecting on their emotions, biases, and reactions and put effort into overcoming such biases. As a result of our natural tendency to generalize and be suspicious of unfamiliar or different people, we are subject to many biases. It is possible to identify and overcome one’s own biases through self-awareness in order to think more logically rather than relying on biases.
  3. Self-regulation – Higher levels of emotional intelligence are associated with better self-regulation. It is the ability to regulate one’s emotions and reactions to better manage interpersonal interactions. The ability to self-regulate also results in people being more careful about the language they use and how they interact with others, including avoiding derogatory or excluding language for diverse groups and regulating their behavior in order to meet the needs of diverse team members. diverse team members. In their interactions, people with high emotional intelligence are more open to diverse groups and more inclusive.
  4. Emotional Intelligence is associated with improved interpersonal skills, which enables an individual to work effectively with diverse individuals by understanding and respecting their perspectives. In the context of diversity, interpersonal skills also refer to the ability to recognize, acknowledge, and accept the differences of others. Those who can deal effectively with diversity value differences and recognize the benefits that can result from variety in their work environment. Due to this, they are comfortable and efficient working with individuals who come from different backgrounds.

An inclusive and diverse culture is a result of having a high level of emotional intelligence. To become more inclusive, organizations should aim to enhance the emotional intelligence of their staff. This is achieved through regular training interventions on emotional intelligence.