Ten years after graduating from Calvin College, Kristin Ekkens founded C3 Consulting LLC to help businesses raise their CQ.
TAGS C3 Consulting / CQ / Kristin Ekkens
says companies sometimes make the mistake of thinking that being diverse and being inclusive are the same thing.
"I had a different experience from my friends," said Ekkens
"Inclusive" took on a deeper meaning when, in 2012, Ekkens, a certified cultural intelligence facilitator, founded C3 Consulting LLC, which is dedicated to developing a culturally competent workforce by bridging cultural and linguistic gaps, developing inclusive leaders, uniting global teams, and retaining diverse talent via online or in-person cultural awareness workshops.
CQ takes time and a concerted effort to think outside one's comfort zone and culture, according to Ekkens
"We have stereotypes and make judgments," said Ekkens
Local clients of Ekkens
include Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Spectrum Health, Ferris State University, Coldwell Banker Schmidt, National Nail Corp., Lacks Enterprises, The Right Place Inc., Fifth Reformed Church and Dan Vos Construction
In April 2013, Ekkens
traveled to Liverpool, England, for the British Council-sponsored International Association for Teachers of English
as a Foreign Language to instruct teachers and administrators from around the world.
"The demand is there - especially in Europe - for business English," said Ekkens
"I have a high level of respect for people who are learning English as their sixth or seventh language.
If we can become more culturally intelligent and reach out and bridge the gap
, it would solve a lot of the challenges we have."
The payoff of having a workforce with a higher cultural intelligence includes employees who are better negotiators, networkers, innovators and effective leaders of multicultural teams.
"My focus, more now than before, has been on leadership development," said Ekkens
"Research shows that leaders who are culturally intelligent are able to really hone in and include others to be culturally intelligent.
It's about seeing multiple perspectives and being more globally minded, and being able to help others do the same thing to help drive new business initiatives."
How do companies get there?
According to the Cultural Intelligence Center in East Lansing, where Ekkens
CQ facilitator certification, the answer, in part, includes a four-step model:
earned a double major in Spanish and applied linguistics at Calvin College
in 2002 and a master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages in 2007 at Michigan State University
, where she
earned a 4.0 grade point average while holding down a full-time job.
In addition to being certified by the Cultural Intelligence Center, she holds certifications from Third Wave Workforce and Learning for Results.
freshman and sophomore years at Calvin
chose to live on the "Mosaic Floor," a multi-cultural experience that included Cambodians, African-Americans, Koreans and Latinas.
"It was a group of individuals who were international students different than myself," Ekkens
"They're still my closest friends."
globally minded parents for planting the seeds of CQ early in her
also credits an open mind and studying abroad in Costa Rica, Mexico and Spain, which achieved much more than just learning to speak more fluent Spanish.
work is about diversity and inclusion: "You can be a very diverse company, but if you don't have inclusiveness, it will be more of a challenge.
That's a mistake I think many companies make.
Inclusion is when you have individuals working as a team who are able to see different styles of communication and perceptions and come up with a solution in making innovative products and services."
Growing up, Ekkens had her sights set on becoming a missionary in Africa.
"I had a very strong passion for that," she
"It was connecting with different people.
I'm passionate about being a Christian, as well."