May is the European month of Diversity. But what does it mean to be diverse? The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect for the full range of human characteristics in their socio-ecological, historical, and cultural contexts. It also means understanding that each individual, family, community, and social group has a uniqueness that makes them different.
These differences include age, ethnicity, class, gender identity, disability, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, religious status, immigration status, educational background, geographical location, income, language, marital status, parental status, and work experiences, as well as intersectional positionalities, among others¹.
A year ago, I moved to Greece. Although I am still in the European region, I am experiencing some slight cultural differences. But what I found interesting is the difference between every person, beyond skin colour, nationality, age, gender, or religion.
Each one of us is unique, from our fingerprints to how we perceive the world around us and our preferences. For this reason, I would like to focus more on the differences between people’s personalities and job choices.
The “BIG 5”
Many contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the “Big 5” personality traits.² This theory’s five broad personality traits are extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. A way to remember them is by the acronyms: OCEAN or CANOE. Evidence of this theory has been growing for many years through various researchers².
- Openness — A high score of this trait is excellent in a fast-growing company where there are many changes. This trait features characteristics such as imagination and insight. People who score highly in this trait tend to be more adventurous and creative, have a broad range of interests, are curious about the world and other people, and eager to enjoy new experiences. On the other hand, people low in this trait are often much more traditional and may struggle with abstract thinking.
- Conscientiousness — This dimension is a good predictor of successful individual performance in the workplace. Highly conscientious people tend to be organised and mindful of details. They plan ahead, think about how their behaviour affects others, and are mindful of deadlines. People who scored low in this spectrum tend to be more relaxed, fail to return things or put them back where they belong, may procrastinate tasks.
- Extraversion — It refers to a person’s comfort level with their environment. A person high in extraversion is usually comfortable talking with new people. They like to look at the big picture and is a successful influencer. This trait is generally seen in many CEOs and entrepreneurs. People who are low in extraversion (or introverted) tend to be more reserved and have less energy to expend in social settings. Social events can feel draining, and introverts often require a period of solitude and quiet to “recharge.”
- Agreeableness — It assesses how well a person gets along with others, competitiveness, and cooperation. This personality dimension includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviours. People who scored high in this spectrum are empathetic and work well in a team. But, there’s a negative side. A highly agreeable person may conform to groups, perhaps to avoid disagreements or to fit in. People who are low in this trait tend to be more competitive, headed and sometimes even manipulative.
- Neuroticism — It measures a person’s emotional stability. High neuroticism can lead to issues in the workplace. But, it doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Instead, the focus should be on the type of job that they will be performing. For example, a person who scored high in neuroticism may not do well as a waiter in a busy restaurant but may thrive in a quiet, slower-paced setting such as in a library. Some people who get easily stressed handle their stress well and use it as a motivator to get their tasks accomplished. Those low in this trait tend to be more stable and emotionally resilient.
It is important to note that each of the five personality factors represents a range between two extremes. For example, extraversion is a continuum between extreme extraversion and extreme introversion. In the real world, most people lie somewhere in between the two polar ends of each dimension.
If we are interviewed by professional psychologists, the questions we will be asked are likely oriented to understand where we position ourselves among these Big 5.
There are several methods to understand what kind of work we are best suited to. One of these is also to ask yourself what I would choose if I had to choose between:
1. A job that brings me a successful economic gain.
2. A job that allows me to make a brilliant career.
3. A job with a contract that protects me in many circumstances such as illness, maternity, and holidays.
4. A job that constantly stimulates me and my abilities.
5. A job with a team of fantastic people with whom I can make friends and feel accepted.
The truth is that choosing just one of these elements is complex, and every one of us is very likely to choose a different mix. The reality is that, even in the workplace, it is challenging to satisfy only one of these requests. That is why it’s vital to understand who you are (taking the Big 5 as a reference) and what you want.
Only when you are clear about your personality and preferences you will be able to find a job that best satisfies your needs.
This blog contribution was made by Eleonora Papini.
Eleonora is originally from Italy, she is passionate about human psychology, sustainable development and international cooperation. Eleonora works as a Project Implementation Officer in a European project about urban sustainable development solutions aimed at valuing the young and female entrepreneurship industry.
In 2021 became also a Data Analyst for the LMF Network and content creator for their blog.
How can you keep in touch?
What is LMFnetwork?
The LMFnetwork is a global social enterprise (not for profit) focused on empowering, enabling & educating womxn and marginalised groups into tech, entrepreneurship & digital. We specialise in designing and delivering accessible programmes and supporting a global community. We’ve gone from a brunch club to a social good brand based on what the community wanted. We are a real community run by real people.
¹Diversity Vision Statement and Purpose (n.d.) In City University New York (CUNY). Retrieved from: http://www2.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/hr/diversity-and-recruitment/
² Cherry, K. (2021) The Big Five Personality Traits. VeryWell mind. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-big-five-personality-dimensions-2795422
³Among the authors of this theory are D. W. Fiske (1949), Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987).