Which Comes First, Diversity and Inclusion or Emotional Intelligence?

Main visual : Which Comes First, Diversity and Inclusion or Emotional Intelligence?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Apparently, scientists claimed to officially answer this question about 9 years ago. However, the conundrum this question represents can still be applied to many other situations in modern life.

We are constantly asking why and how, which inevitably brings up questions about the concepts of cause and effect, nature vs. nurture or even yin and yang.

As the head of our Diversity & Inclusion Council for Fujitsu America Inc., I read a lot about the topics of diversity & inclusion. Recently, I’ve been reading about and pondering the link between diversity, inclusion, and emotional intelligence.

If emotional intelligence, or EQ (Emotional Quotient) is a term you’re unfamiliar with, the basic definition is “a measure of interpersonal or communication skills.”

Daniel Goleman’s international bestseller titled Emotional Intelligence was written over 20 years ago, and the science and study of EQ has remained a hot topic since.

In that same period of time, it has been qualitatively proven that having a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture is paramount for business success.

In fact, according to a survey from Boston Consulting Group, most companies with >1000 employees have invested in formal diversity programs.

Herein comes the question I’ve been pondering… which comes first, an organization with high EQ, or an organization with a high level of diversity and inclusion?

I am not proposing that one or the other truly has to come first. And I’m certainly not proposing that investing in D&I programs and initiatives is the wrong approach.

But, I wonder if a broader more basic focus to develop and increase the level of EQ in all employees, could actually contribute to some of the same outcomes we are seeking…and possibly at a faster rate.

Here is the premise, if we have an employee population who is highly self-aware, who is able to manage emotional reactions and responses, who are attuned to the emotions of the people around them, and who in turn effectively respond to others in even challenging situations, then aren’t we by default embracing diversity and promoting inclusion?

I know this sounds too simple, but sometimes simple is the best approach.

The reality is this; to fully embrace diversity and inclusion, our entire world has a looong way to go. So, I don’t think we really have to answer the question about which comes first, because it’s not an either or choice.

Instead, we need to keep developing both EQ and D&I programs, because the real goal is progress through any and all means.

If you are reading this and are interested in better understanding your own level of EQ, there are many free tests and assessments you can take. You can search “Emotional Intelligence Test”, or you can try this link to a popular and often used online test: https://globalleadershipfoundation.com/geit/eitest.html

Now, spoiler alert! The answer to the original question about the chicken or the egg is…. the chicken!