As the practice of diversity and inclusion (D&I) continues to gain traction throughout the global workforce, training managers and D&I practitioners continue to find themselves contemplating which area of focus — diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging — deserves the greatest attention. To add greater complexity, training managers are challenged with creating content with the appropriate balance of perspective that includes lived experiences, best practices that support the well-being of all stakeholders and scientifically proven behaviors that interrupt unhealthy bias in all its forms. The good news is that no matter what approach an organization takes, training managers will be involved to help employees acquire the skills necessary to succeed.

Fostering diversity is only one part of the puzzle. What does an organization do with all those individual perspectives if there is no common association? The answer is to enhance the cultural competence of the workforce so that all stakeholders demonstrate the appropriate skills and behaviors necessary for everyone to feel welcomed, supported and valued. This process leads to the building and nurturing of organic inclusive relationships, allyship and higher performance.

The Cultural Intelligence Center offers a simple framework for enhancing cultural competence (“Cultural Intelligence” or “CQ”). The framework presents four unique areas of opportunity that training professionals can use to build relevant skills for a diversified workforce. Adopting this framework can also lead to greater progress with D&I strategy, training and programs.

CQ Drive

CQ drive is one’s personal interest and confidence when engaging with individuals from other cultures. A person with low CQ drive does not express genuine interest in working across cultures, whereas someone on the opposite end of the spectrum may thrive in those situations. If exceptional customer service at the point of sale is a key metric for measuring success, a person with low CQ may not be the best fit for the job, especially if the customer base is multicultural.CQ Knowledge

CQ knowledge is the understanding of similarities and differences within a specific culture. The problem with D&I efforts is that we have made so much of the work about race and ethnicity that we have missed golden opportunities to connect as individuals. Knowledge of cultural similarities and differences equips the learner with greater insight and discernment in place of potential bias and blind spots.

CQ Strategy

CQ strategy is the desire to plan for a multicultural interaction. For example, if an American businessperson planned a trip to Japan to meet with a group of executives, he or she would benefit greatly from spending time thinking through what they may encounter when engaging with Japanese customs and culture.

CQ Action

CQ action is the demonstrated ability to adapt when working in multicultural contexts. This is the artistic skill of navigating differences of opinions, preferences or value systems. The only real way to achieve CQ action is to be self-confident so that rather than feeling inferior when differences do occur, one can express mutual respect and a genuine appreciation for difference.

The idea of learning a new skill is not always embraced; however, it is required for this day and age. The lingering events — COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice or the drive to focus on our personal well-being — that we have all experienced over the last year on some level have required us to pivot in one way or another. The beauty of it all is that even with unwelcome change, we still have the capacity to demonstrate lifelong learning by upskilling, reskilling or sharing knowledge when those opportunities present themselves.