Kelly Cooper: Social Intelligence and the Value Prop for Diversity and Inclusion

Social intelligence is the capacity to communicate and form relationships with empathy and assertiveness. It comes from knowing yourself and knowing others – and acting with awareness and empathy. Today, I talk with Kelly Cooper, Founder and CEO of the Center for Social Intelligence and author of Lead the Change – The Competitive Advantage of Gender Diversity and Inclusion. We talk about what social intelligence means and the economic impacts to your organization’s bottom line of both action and inaction when it comes to diversity and inclusion. We discuss how inclusion is not just the responsibility of the leader, but of everyone in the organization. She shares specific actions, policies, and mindsets that create inclusion and address diverse experiences.  It all starts with awareness of the other people in the room and how we lift them up and give them a voice.

Key Takeaways:

  • The value proposition comes from the result of action and the cost of inaction.
  • Policies are often just pieces of paper. In actuality, it’s about how you’ve made it real for people. The unwritten rules and culture of the company matter just as much as the policies.
  • EQ is something that everyone can learn. It is a muscle that we all have, it is just a matter of how we choose to use and flex that muscle. 

“Diversity and inclusion progresses at the speed of empathy. The more empathy you have, the greater likelihood of acceptance.” —  Kelly Cooper

About Kelly Cooper:

Kelly Cooper, Founder and CEO, Centre for Social Intelligence

Kelly Cooper has built her career in male-dominated fields, from starting out working in a science and engineering firm, to working in the Canadian federal government, to being on the Canadian delegation for UN meetings where the world first united to address gender diversity in the 1990s. She started her own business in 2012 to help executives and the C-suite understand the value proposition of diversity and inclusion. Through her strategic mindset and insight, she has been able to create blueprints for executive leaders to shift their workplace cultures, with solid economic results. Each step of her career journey is peppered with challenges in the workplace from sexual harassment to pay inequity, which she eventually overcame by diplomatically clarifying boundaries, finding her voice, and working with the leadership to affect change. Kelly’s recent book, Lead the Change – The Competitive Advantage of Gender Diversity and Inclusion’ (GDI),  targets the C-suite to explain the value proposition of GDI and provides a blueprint for how to take action:


Connect with Kelly Cooper

Book: Lead the Change:





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