DEI Training: Why DEI needs Emotional Intelligence

emotional intelligence and dei

U.S. companies spend nearly $8 billion a year on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training programs, and they accomplish very little. While recognizing DEI’s workplace importance, these efforts often fail to produce lasting engagement. Therefore, igniting initial excitement among a few, but lessons learned are typically unsustainable because they aren’t supported by practice. Moreover, DEI trainings have limited impact in the workplace, let alone the bottom line, because they lack a foundation—a practical, behavioral solution that positively impacts the daily employee experience by increasing productivity, creativity, authenticity, collaboration, not to mention enhancing the organization’s bottom line.

Moreover, while DEI training traditionally focuses on policies and cultural awareness, incorporating EQ can be the transformative solution we’ve been looking for. Additionally, emotional intelligence allows for developing empathy and understanding diverse perspectives, key for managing DEI challenges.

In this blog post, we will explore the significance of emotional intelligence in DEI training and how it can enhance awareness, empathy, and create meaningful change.

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Training? 

DEI training aims to create a workplace culture that embraces diversity, promotes equitable practices, and fosters inclusion. These programs focus on educating employees on the importance of DEI, address unconscious biases, and seek to provide tools to promote a more inclusive and respectful work environment.

What Role Can Emotional Intelligence Play? 

Emotional intelligence is foundational. Seeing as EQ is rooted in our thoughts and behaviors, it is no wonder why it plays such a crucial role in DEI training. Your EQ is composed of four core skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Let’s see how emotional intelligence can enhance DEI initiatives:

Developing Empathy

Emotional intelligence fosters empathy through enhanced social awareness, allowing individuals to understand the experience of others and connect with them meaningfully. DEI training that incorporates emotional intelligence can help participants develop empathy for individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. By cultivating empathy, organizations can bridge gaps, reduce biases, and promote a more inclusive work environment.

Recognizing and Managing Biases

Emotional intelligence enables individuals to recognize their own biases and prejudices through simple practices that increase self-awareness. DEI training that integrates emotional intelligence can help participants become aware of their unconscious biases and provide strategies for managing and challenging these biases. By addressing biases, organizations can create a more equitable workplace where everyone feels valued and respected.

Effective Communication and Collaboration

Emotional intelligence enhances communication and collaboration skills. DEI training that focuses on emotional intelligence equips participants with tools to engage in difficult conversations, address sensitive topics, and build meaningful relationships. By improving communication and collaboration, organizations can create an inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are valued and leveraged.

Conflict Resolution and Respectful Engagement

Emotional intelligence equips individuals with the ability to navigate conflicts and engage in respectful discussions. DEI training that incorporates emotional intelligence provides skills to manage disagreements constructively, find common ground, and foster respect. By promoting respectful engagement and conflict resolution, organizations can create a safe space for dialogue, learning, and growth.

How Can I Incorporate Emotional Intelligence in Training? 

For instance, to effectively incorporate emotional intelligence into DEI training, you can adopt the following strategies:

Self-Reflection and Awareness

DEI training should encourage participants to reflect on their own biases, assumptions, and privileges. Working on their self-awareness, participants can recognize stressors, challenge their biases, and take ownership of their personal growth and development.

Empathy-Building Exercises

DEI training can include activities and exercises that foster empathy and perspective-taking. For instance, exercises like storytelling and role-play, enhance understanding of diverse experiences and challenges. Consequently, participants can practice emotional intelligence strategies specifically designed to enhance social awareness, a critical steppingstone to empathy.

Effective Communication Skills

DEI training should emphasize the importance of effective communication in promoting inclusivity. Training participants in active listening, non-verbal communication, and respectful language usage can enhance their ability to communicate with empathy. In-turn, fostering understanding across diverse teams.

Continued Learning and Accountability

DEI training should not be a one-time event. Organizations should promote ongoing learning and development, and emotional intelligence remains the key. Hold others accountable for building the skills required to be effective at work and beyond: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

By Josh Rosenthal, Director of Training for TalentSmartEQ. For more information, please check out additional resources at:

These strategies were adapted from the new book, “Emotional Intelligence Habits” by Dr. Travis Bradberry. To order, click here. For more strategies that can help you improve engagement at your organization, check out our training programs or contact us.

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