The importance of cultural intelligence

Staff from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust were among attendees at the first ever South London Partnership BME Network conference ‘Different Places, Same Journey’.

SLP BMEAttendees heard inspirational speeches about equality and how they can be culturally intelligent - the capability to function effectively across diverse cultural contexts - national, ethnic, organisational, generational. The day also looked at equality and the importance of why everyone in the NHS needs to lead on inclusion and work in a culturally intelligent way.

Speakers included Dame Elizabeth Anionwu [pictured right], talking about her extraordinary life captured in her book ‘Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union’. She also spoke about becoming the first sickle/thalassaemia nurse specialist in the UK, becoming a professor of nursing, creating the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice, and her part in getting the first statue of BME nursing pioneer Mary Seacole erected outside St Thomas’ Hospital.

Keynote speakers, former IPCC Commisioner and cultural intelligence trainer Jennifer Izekor, said:

Inclusion is not about being invited to the party and asked to dance, it’s about being part of the planning, drafting the invite list, influencing the event and its outcomes.

Ms Izekor challenged all NHS staff to address how they make sure BME colleagues are included so they feel they are adding value and can contribute in the workplace.

She also gave audience some cultural intelligence tips:

  1. Model behaviour you expect from other people
  2. Understand your cultural values and preferences
  3. Understand your cultural biases
  4. Understand and work towards increasing your cultural intelligence levels through drive, knowledge, strategy and action.