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  • Writer's picturepeterfruin

Diversity – but not as we know it!

During the long August Bank Holiday weekend that we enjoyed in England at the end of August, I found myself searching through YOUTUBE and came across some short lecture excerpts given by Professor Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto.

One such lecture/interview excerpt, was on diversity – not the usual stuff of race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion, age etc – but Diversity of Temperament. The basis of the lecture was that organisations pay inordinate amounts of time and effort being forced to, or choosing to, pay attention to the usual diversity parameters but, should instead, be concerned to populate their organisations with people whose temperaments suit them for roles within the organisation.

He used the BIG 5 personality traits of:

  • Extroversion

  • Agreeableness

  • Conscientiousness

  • Neuroticism

  • Openness to exploration

Entrepreneurial people are great at innovative ideas, but like any with an artistic bent are essentially chaotic. They are great for starting businesses but pretty crap at ensuring that their creations prosper and grow. They need an opposing temperament to ensure that sense prevails.

In this example, Professor Peterson suggested that someone with a low level of agreeableness, i.e., disagreeable (someone who would readily say “no” when needed) was needed to reign in unworkable ideas produced by entrepreneurial types ensuring that resources were only devoted to ideas that had merit and that were commercially viable. This would minimise unnecessary wheel spinning and the consequent waste of resources.

There is a political dimension to his view in that, from an organisational effectiveness point of view, stuffing the organisation with diversity in the general use of the term, may employ more ethnic minorities or give opportunities to those with disabilities, but unless attention is paid to temperament as well, square pegs could be forced into round holes.

Much has been written on the need to profile personality within the workplace and Professor Peterson’s work adds considerable weight to the argument.

Best make up your own mind!

You can take a free Big 5 test at or if you have money to burn Professor Peterson has a website if you want to get further in to this subject.

Let me know what you think!!

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