Two Cents: After IQ and EQ comes DQ

Good leaders need to show their compassionate side not just to their employees but to the community as a whole.
By: | November 21, 2019

People care about caring. Driven by millennials who show a preference to work for organisations that are ethical and give back to society, leaders are now beginning to sit up and take notice. But employees also want to experience their employer’s caring, sharing side first-hand in the way they are treated.

Treating employees well, and then extending it to other stakeholders and the wider community is a skill that leaders need to develop. To help guide them, a new term has been coined in the boardroom, known as Decency Quotient (DQ).

While intelligence quotient (IQ) is more than 100 years old, emotional quotient (EQ) is relatively new and a skill that many leaders still don’t possess. Although it was first referenced back in 1990, EQ (or emotional intelligence) didn’t enter the mainstream until at least a decade later.

While many business leaders are still grappling with how to grow their EQ, they now have to contend with developing their DQ, a term coined a few years ago by Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard. He was talking about the criteria he applied when choosing to react to natural disasters and emergencies around the world.

Since then, the term DQ has morphed and now includes internal stakeholders, namely employees. How you treat your employees speaks volumes about you as a leader and your organisation to the outside world.

According to the Harvard Business Review, DQ goes further than EQ. It demonstrates that a leader not only has empathy for employees but also has a strong desire to look out for them, which results in a positive office vibe if employees are properly valued and respected.

While the terminology is still catching on in business circles, the concept of caring more about just the bottom line and the share price is definitely gaining traction. Earlier this year, the heads of the world’s biggest businesses signed a new statement of purpose, saying they would lead their companies to benefit customers, employees, suppliers and community.
But much like the well-worn phrase ‘’putting people first’’, it means nothing if a company doesn’t act on it and really demonstrate how it takes care of staff. So it’s not just about dropping DQ into conversations, but clearly showing you know what it means.
So Mastercard’s Banga has put his money where his mouth is, letting his employees know he cares, and thereby raising his DQ. Last year, Mastercard increased its 401(k) contributions in the U.S to help employees close their retirement gaps (the shortfall between the amount of money they have built up in their pensions and how much they will actually need in retirement).
He also poured Mastercard’s 2018 tax savings (following a change in legislation) into a series of projects including the creation of an Impact Fund that will support “economic growth for everyone.” Banga has also increased Mastercard’s stock price more than 13-fold since becoming CEO in July 2010. A mere coincidence?

He told attendees at a recent summit: ‘’If you can bring your decency quotient to work every day, you will make the company a lot of fun for people – and people will enjoy being there and doing the right thing.” That makes a lot of sense to me.