You’ve probably heard of IQ, or Intelligence Quotient.

Zooms in a man's face as multiple mathematical equations and algorithms float around his head.

It's possible you've heard about Emotional Intelligence or EQ.

A group of friends sitting in a circle. A girl is crying and a boy holds her hand in a caring way.

But have you ever heard of CQ?

A man in a suit asking,

CQ: Cultural Quotient

CQ or Cultural Quotient, measures a person's cultural intelligence. Before we dig into cultural intelligence, let's first define culture:

'Culture' refers to a group or community which shares common experiences that shape the way its members understand the world. It includes groups that we are born into, such as race, national origin, gender, class, or religion.

1. woman with henna on hands, 2. man with a dashiki and a kufi cap, 3. older woman sitting with younger woman wearing a hijab


True or False: a person has ONE culture.

Cultural Intelligence

Business professors P. Christopher Earley and Soon Ang defined cultural intelligence as:

a person’s adaptation to new cultural settings and capability to deal effectively with other people with whom the person does not share a common cultural background and understanding.

The Harvard Business Review determined there are 3 parts of cultural intelligence:

Flaticon Icon

  • HEAD (Cognitive) You know that CQ is important and you have observation and research strategies to identify information about cultures that are different from yours.

Flaticon Icon

  • BODY (Physical) The visible actions you use, like body language, show your CQ.

Flaticon Icon

  • HEART (Emotional/Motivational) You're confident as you build your CQ in new cultural situations and are unafraid to make mistakes as you learn.


You're traveling to Thailand on a business trip. To greet the client, you slightly bow, with your palms pressed together in a prayer-like manner because you understand that shaking hands is part of Western culture. Which component of CQ are you using?

Benefits of Cultural Intelligence in the Workplace

People of different ages, with different backgrounds, experiences, belief systems, ethnicities, etc. come together for a common purpose in a workplace.

A group of diverse people put their hands together in a circle. Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Developing cultural intelligence in the workplace is beneficial because it supports:

  • communication in various cultural settings

Flaticon Icon

  • working constructively with people who are different from one another

Flaticon Icon

  • connections with different people and departments

Flaticon Icon

  • integrating multiple perspectives, leading to innovation and creativity

Flaticon Icon

Can I Grow My Cultural Intelligence?

Ted Lasso pointing at the camera and saying,

Here are a few ways to strengthen your CQ:

  • Be curious! Learn about other cultural groups 📙

  • Examine your own cultural history and cultural biases 🔍

  • Travel! Visit other states, counties, and even cities ✈️

  • Listen and talk to people from different cultural groups 👂

How Can Steve Grow His CQ?

David is starting a new job. During new hire training, he learned the company values cultural intelligence. David knows he has a lot to learn. Which thing(s) could David do to grow his cultural intelligence?

Flaticon Icon A. Attend programming at a cultural society.

Flaticon Icon B. Take a vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.

Flaticon Icon C. Join a diverse team at work and get to know the members.

Flaticon Icon D. Attend services or events at churches of a different faith.


What experiences will grow David's cultural intelligence? Choose all that apply:

Take Action

To reap the benefits of diversity in the workplace, businesses and organizations must intentionally plan to create inclusive cultures by increasing employees' cultural intelligence.

As a first step, keep an open mind and get to know the people around you.

A person with short, pink hair, holding their hands together saying,


Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

Get support to take action on this Byte