On January 30, 2024, we are delighted to host our first member conference of the year, centered on Advancing Global Strategy. This event marks a significant milestone as not only the first conference of the New Year for our DBP partners but also the first in-person member conference option since the onset of the pandemic.
We are excited to have Dr. David Livermore, a renowned expert with more than twenty-five years of experience in cultural intelligence research, as our keynote speaker. Dr. Livermore’s work includes founding the Cultural Intelligence Center and writing several influential books, with his latest due to be released this fall. Our Marketing Associate Director Krista Lindsey recently spoke with him, offering a sneak peek into the deep impact of cultural intelligence on global DEI strategies, setting the stage for our January Member Conference.
Krista Lindsey (KL): David, it’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you today! To lay the foundation for our discussion, I’m keen to understand from your perspective: What exactly is cultural intelligence?
Dr. David Livermore (DL): Thank you, Krista. Cultural Intelligence, or CQ as it’s commonly abbreviated, refers to one’s proficiency navigating and working effectively across various cultural contexts. It’s a skill we can actually measure and develop, and it’s particularly vital for leading teams that are not only geographically dispersed but for any team composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds. There are several research-based outcomes for leaders who use CQ to ensure that teams are inclusive, globally dynamic, and responsive in today’s interconnected world.
KL: Moving forward in our discussion, I’m intrigued to know, based on your extensive research, what has been one of the most unexpected findings regarding the role of cultural intelligence in DEI initiatives?
DL: One of the more surprising findings is the limitation of things like unconscious bias training or teaching people about things like systemic racism for actually improving inclusion. Learning about these realities is important, but as noted in others’ research, we found that by itself, this is an insufficient way to create change. But what surprised me most was that it can actually be worse to provide this kind of training than not doing any DEI training at all. Simply exposing people to concepts like bias, micro-aggressions, and systemic racism without providing concrete strategies for action can lead to a sense of overconfidence or complacency. It ends up inoculating people with just enough information to make them think: Okay. I get it. I’m good. This is something I’ll dig into more at the upcoming conference with you all on January 30. It will be fun to unpack the research further so we can all invest in training that works.
KL: What preliminary steps do you recommend organizations take to effectively leverage cultural intelligence in promoting equity and inclusion within diverse global teams?
DL: That’s an essential question, Krista. The critical first step is to start with leadership. It’s imperative that senior leaders weave cultural intelligence into the very fabric of the organizational strategy rather than bolting it on as an added program. Leaders, both those in the C-suite and middle management, have to personally commit to developing their own CQ and then integrating it with how they lead. Middle managers, in particular, are crucial since they bridge the gap between upper management and the rest of the team. They’re instrumental in ensuring that cultural intelligence moves beyond theory into practical, everyday application within the organization.
KL: I’m eager to learn about what personally motivates you to keep furthering and sharing your work in the cultural intelligence field.
DL: My inspiration really stems from an insatiable curiosity about people and the world. When I find myself in a room full of people, I gravitate to those who differ most from me, whether that’s different in terms of age, gender, appearance, background, or something else. It’s these varied interactions that ignite my curiosity and deepen my understanding, fueling my passion for the work. To be honest, the complexity of this work means that it’s sometimes awkward for me as a cisgender white male to speak into this work. I try to approach this with the understanding that I don’t have the lived experience to fully grasp the realities of exclusion and discrimination. But neither does it seem right to put the sole responsibility for that on those who are marginalized. Their lived experiences are invaluable. And the research I’ve been part of can also play a part. So together, we can provide useful strategies that make a difference. I’m inspired to think about how to strike a balance between contributing to the conversation and creating space for diverse voices to be heard and valued.
KL: Very well said! I’m curious: from your expert viewpoint, how can each of us as individuals contribute to creating a more inclusive environment, both in society and professionally?
DL: First, in a societal context, one of the key ways we can contribute to inclusivity is by speaking up whenever the opportunity arises. This is particularly crucial for those of us who belong to a dominant group in our communities. It’s not about always having to be the loudest voice or acting as the “diversity police,” but it’s more about challenging established thinking and encouraging openness to different perspectives.
On a professional front, I think we have to acknowledge that as individuals, we can’t address every concern with equal intensity. If a senior leader puts out a statement every time there’s breaking news about something going on that connects to DEI, they’ll spend little time fostering real change. We need to identify specific causes where we can make the most significant impact as allies. This process involves deep learning, empathy, and a balance of proactive and reactive approaches.
KL: The one-year fellowship program you lead seems like an extraordinary opportunity. Could you tell us more about it and any other exciting endeavors, perhaps including your upcoming book?
DL: Absolutely! CQ Fellows is a yearlong program for individuals who want to expand their thought leadership in DEI and cultural intelligence. It’s a highly selective program—this year we had nearly 400 applicants from around the world for only 20 spots. Through a series of monthly virtual meetings and two in-person retreats, we spend the year digging deep into the research on cultural intelligence. Each fellow chooses a niche where they want to focus on developing a practical solution for translating the research for that niche, which could be a book, a podcast, a course, app, or another innovative project.
And thank you for asking about my upcoming book, which is the third edition of my best-selling book, Leading with Cultural Intelligence. The book will be released on September 17, 2024. This is much more than just an update to the previous editions; it’s a complete overhaul. The landscape of DEI and work as a whole has evolved drastically over the past decade, and this book delves into what it means to lead with cultural intelligence in our rapidly changing world.
KL: Both sound like great opportunities to further education in this space! As we look forward to your keynote address at our DBP Member Conference, what are the key takeaways you hope the event attendees will gain?
DL: First, I hope to provide a deeper understanding of how the research on cultural intelligence can support and amplify their DEI efforts, backed by solid evidence. Secondly, we’ll look at some concrete examples of how cultural intelligence can effectively support and enhance DEI initiatives on a global scale. I want us to go deeper together so that we can make our DEI efforts in 2024 have a broader and deeper level of impact.
Enhance Your Leadership Toolkit with Diversity Best Practices
If you haven’t registered for our January Member Conference yet to hear Dr. Livermore and other subject-matter experts speak about how you can Advance Global Strategy within your organization, it’s not too late! Click here to secure your spot at this exclusive event, already included in your membership benefits.
Not a DBP member yet but curious about what we offer? Our membership comes packed with perks such as cutting-edge research, heritage month webinars, quarterly member conferences, and direct access to our suite of industry experts. To discover more and join our community, please reach out to us for detailed information. We’re excited to welcome you.
Krista L. Lindsey is the Associate Director of Product Marketing for Seramount and has almost 10 years of experience in B2B sales, social media management, communications, graphic design, and marketing.
Prior to her time at Seramount, Krista was the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications for The University of North Texas Division of Enrollment, overseeing all aspects of recruitment communications, digital marketing, event promotion, and print design. She joined the higher education sector after launching her marketing consulting business that helped small to mid-size businesses create marketing materials for a successful launch. Krista began her career in B2B sales for Republic National Distribution Company and Quest Diagnostics and previously held a position as the Communications Coordinator for The University of Houston Division of Enrollment.
Krista graduated from Sam Houston State University with a BS in Communication Studies and is currently a Juris Doctor candidate at The University of North Texas Dallas College of Law. She resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, bonus son, and two dogs. When she isn’t planning a wedding or studying for law exams, she can be found in the kitchen learning to re-create dishes from her Creole heritage, practicing mindfulness through self-care, or catching up on her favorite reality TV shows.
Cultural Intelligence Center and Professor, Boston University
David Livermore, PhD (Michigan State University) is a social scientist devoted to the topics of cultural intelligence (CQ) and global leadership and the author of several award-winning books, including Leading with Cultural Intelligence, Driven by Difference, and Serving with Eyes Wide Open.
David Livermore, PhD (Michigan State University) is a social scientist devoted to the topics of cultural intelligence (CQ) and global leadership and the author of several award-winning books, including Leading with Cultural Intelligence, Driven by Difference, and Serving with Eyes Wide Open. His newest book, Digital, Diverse & Divided, addresses one of the most pressing issues of our day–how to overcome polarization in our personal and professional relationships.
David is a founder of the Cultural Intelligence Center in East Lansing, Michigan, Research Professor at Questrom’s School of Business at Boston University, and a Research Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He consults with global organizations around the world, including the Harvard Business School, Google, Coca-Cola, the US Department of Defense, BMW, Qatar Airways, the United Nations, and dozens more. He has traveled to more than one hundred countries and is a frequent speaker at conferences. He also serves on several boards and is a Fellow with the Society of Leadership Fellows, Windsor Castle, a select leadership community that meets to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing us globally.
David loves to make social science accessible to practitioners. He has been interviewed and referenced by myriad news sources, including The Atlantic, CBS News, Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, Forbes, NBC, the New York Times, USA Today, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the South China Post.
David and his wife, Linda, have two adult daughters, Emily and Grace. Emily is embarking on a career as a litigation lawyer, and Grace is a graphic designer. Some of their favorite family activities are traveling (fortunately!) and discovering new foods together.