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The positive effects of cultural intelligence on your global business

Essentials of Equality & Diversity - E-Learning

Cultural intelligence refers to an individual’s capability to understand, adapt to, and work effectively across different cultures. In the context of global business, possessing high cultural intelligence has numerous positive effects for your business, your employees and your customers.

In this article we take a deeper look into cultural intelligence, exploring it’s benefits and suggesting a few ways that cultural intelligence can be promoted within your business.

Here are some of the positive effects of cultural intelligence on global businesses…



1. Enhanced cross-cultural communication

High levels of cultural intelligence enables individuals to communicate effectively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. This is crucial in a global business setting where effective communication is key to building relationships, closing deals, and work together on projects. When employees work well together and communicate effectively, it is beneficial for team members, stake holders, managers, clients, customers and your brand.


2. Global team cohesion

Teams in global businesses often consist of members from various countries and cultural backgrounds, especially in today’s multicultural workplaces. Cultural intelligence fosters an environment of collaboration and cohesion by helping team members appreciate and understand the diversity within the team. Individuals from differing cultures can often have various work practices or approaches which can lead to tension or misunderstanding but for teams with a high level of cultural intelligence, this can be overcome, encouraging creativity, knowledge and skills.


3. Adaptation to local markets

Understanding the cultural nuances of different markets is essential for success in global business. Cultural intelligence ensures businesses are able to effectively adapt their products, services, and marketing strategies to local preferences, which can significantly enhance acceptance and success in different regions. If your teams understand their target markets, they can serve them better, boosting brand faith.


4. Effective negotiation skills

Negotiating across cultures requires a deep understanding of cultural norms, communication styles, and decision-making processes. High cultural intelligence equips individuals with the skills needed to navigate negotiations successfully, building mutually beneficial partnerships and sealing deals.


5. Global talent management

Cultural intelligence is invaluable when managing a diverse global workforce. It helps leaders understand and appreciate the cultural differences among their team members, promoting inclusivity, creating a positive work environment and ensuring talented team members feel supported and valued.


6. Reduced misunderstandings and conflict

Cultural intelligence reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings and conflicts arising from cultural differences. By being aware of, and respecting, diverse cultural perspectives, individuals can navigate potential sources of tension more effectively and are more mindful of the way they interact and react to others in the workplace.


7. Increased innovation and creativity

Diverse cultural perspectives bring new and unique ideas and approaches to problem-solving. Cultural intelligence fosters an environment that encourages the exchange of innovative ideas, leading to increased creativity and adaptability in the face of challenges.


8. Brand faith and trust

Demonstrating cultural intelligence in business practices enhances a company’s reputation. Respecting and valuing diverse cultures positively impacts how a brand is perceived globally, leading to increased customer trust and loyalty. For teams that are customer facing, high cultural intelligence ensures respectful dialogues, an understanding of perspectives, and customer satisfaction.


9. Market expansion

Businesses with high cultural intelligence are better positioned for successful market expansion and can enter new markets more confidently, adapt their strategies effectively, and build strong relationships with local partners and customers.


10. Legal and ethical compliance

Cultural intelligence helps businesses navigate the legal and ethical landscape of different countries. Understanding cultural norms and values helps ensure that business practices align with local regulations and expectations.




Tips for promoting cultural intelligence

It is easy to assess the positive effects of cultural intelligence for global businesses yet it can be more challenging to actually create a workplace which supports, encourages and fosters a dynamic environment where cultural intelligence can thrive.

However, the following factors are helpful when promoting cultural intelligence in the workplace:

Cultural awareness training – offering cultural awareness training to all employees, as part of their continuing professional development, is essential in order to educate and reinforce its importance. This is especially vital for employees who are expected to work with overseas teams or who manage (or work within) a multicultural workforce.

Hire diverse teams – successfully fostering inclusion and diversity within the workplace tends to be more effective when there is a very multicultural workforce. Seek to hire candidates with diverse backgrounds or experiences, and facilitate their successful integration using the methods listed here. Your business will be better for it.

Cultural competency assessment – in order to accurately evaluate where your teams are regarding their cultural intelligence, it can be helpful to use a cultural competency assessment. From this starting point it is possible to tailor education and training to their needs and future business predictions for a multicultural workforce. Identify any areas which require improvement and utilise some of the tips in this article.

Mentoring – establishing mentoring systems where employees from diverse cultures have an opportunity to work together can encourage cultural intelligence through a supportive system of sharing, collaboration and communication within a shared project.

Celebrate cultures – while there may be a principal culture within the workplace this doesn’t mean that other cultures (the main holidays, religious events or special days linked to it) should be overlooked. Encourage an appreciation of other cultural events, occasions, or even food, by hosting special culture days where teams can contribute to a shared experience.

Lead by example – it is especially important for team leaders and managers to lead by example when it comes to cultural intelligence. Support those in leadership roles within your organization by giving appropriate training to ensure cultural awareness, cultural intelligence, communication, and commitment levels are as high as possible. Leaders who model inclusive behaviour can set the tone for the entire organization.

Inclusive policies – review and update workplace policies as required to check they take account of cultural sensitivities and diversity. This might include translation of internal documents for those who speak a different native language, or flexible working policies.

Feedback – one important area often overlooked is feedback. It is essential for ensuring that any new policies, events, training, and so on, are effective, helpful and working as they should. Offer various options for feedback, ensuring that it is always processed and acted upon in a timely manner, and in order to continuously enhance cultural awareness initiatives.

Communication – fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing issues around cultural difference, expectations, or inclusion, is vital in giving everyone an opportunity to be heard and feel their perspective is valued. This works best from the top down, so ensure managers are supportive and give everyone the same opportunities during team meetings, forums, collaborative challenges, and so on.

Cultural intelligence is a valuable asset for global businesses as it contributes to effective communication, collaboration, adaptation to diverse markets, and overall success in a globalized world.

Organizations that prioritize and cultivate cultural intelligence are more likely to thrive in the increasingly interconnected and culturally diverse global business environment.


More tips on cultural intelligence can be found on our blog page.

You can also register your interest for our cultural awareness training courses here.