[This post is part of a series called Exploring Cultural Intelligence written by David Arnowitz, co-founder of Arnowitz Culture Agency. The series will explore the problem and solution spaces that encompass the field of Cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence research is central to the ACA approach of corporate culture/performance improvement programs]
The failure of the majority of corporate diversity programs has attracted a large number of print and digital articles reporting about research into its causes. One of the most recent is from the Harvard Business Review article, Why Diversity Programs Fail, by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev. Dobbin & Kalev’s research concludes that diversity programs’ focus on controlling manager behavior typically makes things worse. And even more forward-thinking programs tend to substitute updated stereotypes for old ones.
A new and better approach to improving diversity and business outcomes related to diversity can be found in the scientific research of cultural intelligence (CQ). Through the lens of CQ research, corporate diversity programs should be focused on making employees more culturally intelligent. Raising employee and management CQ enables individual, team and company practices to become more capable of overcoming the different cultural divides brought by diverse workforces—and it is proven to increase individual, team, and corporate performance.
A CQ approach, helps companies unpack the layered cultural divides (e.g., gender, functional/marketing Vs. technology groups, nationality, race, religions, class, role, etc.) to transform diversity from a weakness into a strength. Notably, this is achieved not by outlawing or controlling behaviors, but through a more culturally intelligent view—understanding the motivation, culture knowledge, strategy and actions of individual, team and corporate performance.
CQ is no fad. It has been extensively researched, applied and proven successful in companies for ten-plus years. ACA has a partnership with Dr. Soon Ang’s team, the pioneers of CQ research and practice. Our practice has integrated CQ science in our internal development and client campaign practices with great success. The time has come to face corporate diversity issues with a new CQ perspective to turn around past failures. Future articles will look more deeply into the problem and solution spaces of culture and the role of CQ.