Very often when I talk about Cultural Intelligence (CQ), the initial reaction is wide-eyed confusion. What’s that? Is that even a thing? Tell me more!
The concept is often ‘foreign’ to a number of immigrant professionals. As an immigrant professional myself, I had my days of never having heard of the term, to hearing about it but not understanding it, to understanding and actively working to build my own cultural fluency and now I advocate for it
Immigration is an integral part of the fabric of Canada, every day people arrive to our beautiful country from different parts of the world. These people –professionals in particular, arrive with a wealth of education, experience and expertise. They have scaled the first hurdle of applying to come to Canada, and have landed in their dream home. They are very hopeful that they have all that they need to thrive – they are hardworking and that is enough. Right? Maybe not. Thriving in a global workforce requires more than hard work. It requires cultural intelligence competency.
Heading the Career Mentorship Program at the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC), I often see that some of the intangible factors immigrant professionals bring with them include a thought process and system of belief that they might not even be consciously aware of. These thought processes have been shaped by a variety of factors including culture – it means that the way they receive, process and respond to verbal and non-verbal communication is unique and very often influenced by their antecedents.
Understandably, the Canadian workforce is diverse and rich in people from of different ethnicities, nationalities and races, interacting on a daily basis in multiple contexts. These contexts include, but are not limited to relationships with bosses, co-workers, clients, management etc. Cultural understanding and fluency can not only ensure that things run smoothly but it has been known to increase productivity and ultimately, organizational bottom lines.