Cultural Intelligence — the ability to understand other people’s cultures and values — has pushed brands towards innovation and produced some of today’s most effective campaigns.
There are 35 million multicultural Americans, which is 41% of the U.S. population –almost half of the entire country. The consumer of today exists within a melting pot, each demographic requiring different marketing strategies for success.
“Cultural intelligence is not limited to understanding ethnicities alone. It encompasses a comprehensive understanding of diverse cultural dimensions, including subcultures that are shaped by individual experiences,” Rebecca Nunez, CEO of The MRN Agency, told California Business Journal.
The framework of understanding Cultural Intelligence is knowing when a holiday is celebrated, the customs and traditions that go into that holiday, as well as why it is important to a culture. When individuals see and feel Cultural Intelligence reflected in their teams, it enhances effective results, Nunez says. “Companies who champion and prioritize cultural intelligence demonstrate that they recognize that different cultures contribute to a more inclusive workplace where individuals from diverse backgrounds feel valued, seen, heard, and empowered.”
By embracing Cultural Intelligence, companies leverage the diverse perspectives and skills of its employees, leading to increased creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capabilities.
To create a superior and global-minded workforce, individuals must take it upon themselves to step down as a leader and return to the learning stage of their career to comprehend the critical importance of Culturally Intelligence, Nunez says. “Leaders must understand that it is each company’s responsibility to foster a diverse workplace where employees belong to different subcultures based on their generational backgrounds, interests, or personal experiences.”
These values and traditions have been taught by families “and they can be taught to business leaders in the same manner,” Nunez says. “Once a channel of Cultural Intelligence has been introduced in the workplace, a domino effect of communication occur within the companies’ teams.
“Encouraging the understanding of subculture fosters a deeper appreciation among colleagues and opens a constructive dialog around the complexities of diverse cultures,” Nunez adds. “Cultural Intelligence also enables effective communication by understanding the nuances of different professional management styles, communication styles, and non-verbal cues.”
This understanding enables co-workers to share their values with each other and also work through differences together invoking inclusivity and improving team dynamics.
“When Cultural Intelligence is shared between a group of team members, it creates new lines of communication and understanding that ultimately drives innovation and prosperity,” Nunez says. “When a framework of Cultural Intelligence is implemented for campaigns and clients, that is when businesses see triumphs in their marketing strategies.
There have been many campaigns constructed without Cultural Intelligence, Nunez says. “But in today’s diverse market, crafting a campaign with is a necessity. Without it, a brand may inadvertently engage in cultural missteps or misunderstandings, which can lead to strained relationships, loss of business, or reputational damage.”
Many brands have fallen victim to this and receive negative feedback through media coverage. “Being culturally sensitive helps the brand avoid potential pitfalls and maintain a positive image in the eyes of its customers, future demand and the public,” Nunez says.
When brands invest in Cultural Intelligence, they invest in diverse customers across domestic and international markets. Nunez describes how Cultural Intelligence has put The MRN Agency ahead of the game, saying, “Our cultural intelligence capabilities enable us to craft campaigns and messaging that resonate with different cultural segments while also delivering on brand goals.”
“The experience required to execute Cultural Intelligence content comes from our team itself,” she adds. “Our services are anchored by our cultural intelligence capabilities and by the fact, that as a collective, our company is a representation of the faces, skin tones, languages, backgrounds, and identities that our clients are aiming to reach.”
Here are Nunez’ four keys to discovering applicants in a vast pool of candidates:
- The process of hiring someone with cultural intelligence entails recognizing job-seekers who exhibit the essential skills, attitudes, and experiences that showcase their capacity to navigate, empathize, and comprehend diverse cultural environments.
- To identify such applicants, carefully review their resumes and LinkedIn profiles for clues indicating cultural intelligence. Pay attention to experiences like international travel, work in diverse settings, language proficiency, or involvement in cross-cultural projects.
- During the interview phase, employ behavioral questions designed to assess candidates’ cultural intelligence. For instance, inquire about their experiences collaborating with diverse teams, resolving cross-cultural conflicts, or adapting communication styles in various cultural settings.
- Ask candidates to explain how their culture influences their career path, communication styles, and management and feedback preferences. Actively listen for the unique experiences that have crafted their professional persona.
“Fostering cultural intelligence within the workplace,” Nunez concludes, “is imperative for brands aiming to connect with today’s consumers. A cultural intelligence agency, like The MRN Agency, empowers clients to be more culturally aware, adaptable, and successful in their marketing strategies, media campaigns, and creative output.
“It enables brands to build meaningful connections with diverse audiences, avoid cultural pitfalls, and create a positive and inclusive brand identity. Embracing cultural intelligence is a strategic imperative for companies seeking to not just survive but thrive in our diverse and interconnected world.”
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