Emotional Intelligence: A Case For Diversity & Inclusion

Vidya Unnikrishnan

Lead - PMO, Tesco Technology

People Blogs

Emotional Intelligence: A Case For Diversity & Inclusion

May 15, 2019     6490 Views

More than two years after the Korn Ferry survey, corporates, including technology companies, are no longer debating about the need for diversity and inclusion; the conversation has shifted to how companies can ensure a more vibrant environment where everyone feels equally welcome.

The survey, which was conducted by interviewing 55,000 professionals across geographies, established a much-highlighted fact – women professionals hold far greater emotional intelligence. Companies are taking cognizance of this in light of the strong link between emotional intelligence and effective leadership; according to Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership — toughness, determination, and vision — are critical for success, they are insufficient unless supported by a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Therefore, as companies strive to create an environment that fuels effective leadership, it is becoming increasingly important to consider the distinct leadership styles that diverse colleagues bring with them.

Creating A Diverse Work Culture

It is only when companies breed a culture of diversity that different leadership styles can thrive. Therefore, it is important to recognize multiple social styles – expressive, driver, analytical and amiable – as defined by Merill and Reid’s behavioural model. Each of these styles come with positive and negative qualities. However, when paired with high emotional intelligence, they can make for effective leadership qualities.

Traditionally, the technology industry has placed far greater emphasis on professionals and leaders with a strong driver or analytical style. Perhaps it is one of the factors that have impacted the slow and limited adoption of technology as a career choice – especially at the mid and senior levels – among women who often associate themselves with expressive and amiable styles.

However, as we work towards building a more diverse and inclusive culture, it is important to get past these traditional biases. It is also crucial to establish initiatives that help women feel valued at work, encourage them to pursue their careers to the fullest potential, and achieve work-life balance.

At Tesco Bengaluru, we have established several practices and initiatives to create such a culture.

Additionally, the industry must encourage women leaders to act as role models and mentors, share their knowledge, skills and perspective to foster personal and professional growth of fellow women employees. Lastly, leaders across the board need to talk about an inclusive environment at work and the opportunities to succeed for professionals who have different social styles.

Reversing Social Biases

While the technology industry works towards establishing a diverse and inclusive environment, society also has an important role to play in regard of fighting traditional gender-based biases. From parents to teachers, early mentors need to work towards creating non-gender specific cultures where women are encouraged to develop interest across fields, including technology. When girls grow up to be not just consumers of technology, but also take a keen interest in the science behind it is when we will truly be able to overcome social and professional barriers.

We must invest in building support systems for girls and women to pursue their interest in STEM subjects at the school and high school and university-levels. Actively promoting the role women can play in these fields, potential career opportunities, women role models, as well as launching diverse policies and programmes to make women feel that technology is a field where everyone is welcome will help transform their relationship with STEM subjects and careers.

To sum it up, while the barriers preventing more women from pursuing technology seem elusive, only sustained and organized efforts can help in ensuring an equal number of women pursue technology.

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