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How Emotional Intelligence Boosts DEI, Productivity, Growth

How Emotional Intelligence Boosts DEI, Productivity, Growth

From Insights, January 2022

By Karine Leblanc, Member ASHRAE

Emotional intelligence (EI) can help increase awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which may help organizations become more productive and increase the happiness of their workers.

We live in a technical world. And yet, technical skills can be worthless without human skills—the basis of emotional intelligence. When a workforce has high emotional intelligence, they tend to be automatically more open to diversity, become inclusive and show equity. This is because they have self-awareness and social awareness.

Before we go further, let’s define diversity, inclusion and equity. DEI Advocate Vernā Myers defined two of these terms well: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

I first heard this quote during fellow ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Erin McConahey’s, P.E., HBDP, Fellow ASHRAE, Women in ASHRAE presentation during the 2018 ASHRAE Winter Conference in Chicago, and it resonated with me. I have not always been invited to meetings when I should have been. And when I would be invited, there were some instances when I felt like I didn’t have a voice and didn’t belong. There have been times when I didn’t feel valued and included as a young female engineer. For example, I can recall a particular instance in which I proposed an idea during a meeting that was brushed off by my peers. I did not initially have a problem with this, as many ideas are naturally cut during the problem-solving process so a workable solution can be reached. However, later on in that same meeting, an older male colleague proposed that same idea, and everyone then praised its brilliance.

At the time of the presentation, we only spoke about diversity and inclusion, but in recent years, equity was added to the mix. If we use the same dancing analogy, being invited to the dance is diversity, being asked to dance is inclusion and making sure everyone has a pair of dancing shoes that fits would be equity.

The Importance of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders and Teams

The foundation of DEI in any workplace is emotionally intelligent leaders and teams—it is the key to a successful and growing organization.*

A team with generational, gender, cultural, language and religious differences requires highly emotionally intelligent individuals to communicate easily, collaborate effectively and create meaningful relationships. They are people who possess these human skills that contribute to supporting diversity, inclusion and equity:

  • Self-love: They have good self-esteem and a positive attitude. They are comfortable with who they are, and they are aware of their strengths and limitations.
  • Self-control: They are able to listen without jumping to judgment. They can adapt smoothly to change.
  • Recognition: They are able to understand how others are seeing things. They maintain a strong desire for wanting to see the people around them succeed.
  • Connection: They are driven to want to be their best by learning new things, growing and improving. They are curious and open to different ideas.
  • Empathy: They have the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within his or her frame of reference. They believe in others and give the same importance to everyone.

The more diverse an organization is, the more productive its workers will be. Our natural tendency is to work with people who are similar to ourselves because when we are alike, we may think and act similarly and feel this would lead to fewer conflicts. While we may experience fewer conflicts, we also stay in our “little circle” that prevents us from growing outside our comfort zones. This limits how we develop and improve ourselves and the organizations we work for from reaching their full potential.

Bringing diversity into the workplace brings different talents, strengths, understandings and skills, breaking us free from our comfort zones to help us and our organization grow and improve.

ASHRAE is committed to providing a welcoming environment to all its global members. The ASHRAE Board of Directors Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee has several events scheduled for the 2022 ASHRAE Winter Conference in Las Vegas. For more information, click here.

About the Author

Karine Leblanc, Member ASHRAE, is an ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer, chair of ASHRAE’s Communications Committee, a board-elected member of ASHRAE’s Nominating Committee and the author of How To Be Human in a Technical World. She has served Region X in many roles and has received several awards, including the Distinguished Service Awards in 2016 and the Louise and Bill Holladay Chapter Distinguished Service Award in 2012. Leblanc is a sales engineer for US Air Conditionings Distributors. Some parts of this article have been excepted from Leblanc’s book.

* Velasco, R. 2021. “7 Reasons Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are Key to your Organization’s Growth & Success.” Integrated Work.