Sodexo
Sodexo USA Careers
     May 2012, Issue 25
Your View into a World Leader of Quality of Life Services
Do You Know Your Cultural IQ?
By Arie Ball, Vice President, Sourcing and Talent Acquisition

Cultural intelligence, or your cultural IQ, is about the knowledge you have for interacting with diverse or multicultural groups. Understanding the impact of race, ethnicity and culture in the workplace is an important step towards helping you work more effectively in our increasingly diverse workplaces. I had the opportunity to speak with Gerry Fernandez, founder and president of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), about the importance of this topic.

Q. As a member of MFHA's board, I am very interested in the work you are doing in cultural intelligence. Could you describe for our readers how you define cultural intelligence?

Fernandez: Cultural intelligence is having the knowledge, skills and insights necessary to effectively engage multicultural groups to deliver better business results. MFHA's "Cultural Intelligence" Initiative is focused on increasing teamwork, competitiveness and profits. Everyone has their own individual "Cultural IQ" that can be developed to make them more productive managers.

Q. Why do you believe that cultural intelligence is such an important competency for employees and potential employees?

Fernandez: Cultural intelligence skills are absolutely going to be required to manage cross-cultural teams and to work in companies that serve more multicultural customers. If you know how to engage people from different ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds, you can better coach, teach, train and develop diverse talent.

Q. What is MFHA doing to help raise awareness of the importance of cultural intelligence and help equip employees with practical approaches to developing this competency?

Fernandez: MFHA is rolling out a series of new workshops that teach participants the behaviors, strategies and skills necessary to become culturally fluent leaders. These sessions show participants how to give feedback, how to coach, and what they need to do differently to increase engagement with multicultural employees.

Q. What advice do you have for our readers who are interested in exploring cultural intelligence as a competitive advantage for their career growth?

Fernandez: I encourage them to do two things. First, I recommend they read the Cultural Intelligence article in the Harvard Business Review. And secondly, they should attend an upcoming "Cultural Intelligence" Webinar that will be hosted by Sodexo and MFHA. Look for an announcement on the MFHA website soon.

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Editor: Trish Freshwater,
Senior Communications Manager