Dr. Kakul Agha From Different Corners
Developing Social Quotient by adding Diversity among Faculty and Students
John F. Kennedy rightly said, “if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity”, pointing towards the immense value of harnessing diversity in the society.
Diversity as a concept is well understood by many as people hailing from different nations, but Collins (2019) points out diversity being divided in four dimensions namely permanent, evolving, personality and organizational. The permanent dimension includes gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and birth generation whereas evolving dimension hold aspects that keep changing like age, weight, height, religion, education, physical ability, marital status, income level, and geographic location. In a similar fashion, differences in personality fall under the personality dimension, which can be understood by extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience which can be measured using Big Five Personality Model or Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The organizational dimension differentiates people using hierarchical status, work content, department and seniority which are factors existing at the workplace.
In a recent study by Harvard Public Health (2023) it was found that USA is battling with enhanced levels of anxiety and depression related to loneliness, hence highlighting the value of improving mental health and building relationships with family, friends and casual acquaintances. This calls for Gen Z and millennials to be able to develop and sustain social relationships around them. In a university, where you will find huge number of Gen Zs, the latter receive knowledge, skills and abilities. In the current context and dynamics of the world, they need to develop “Social Fitness”, which implies our ability to cope up with other members in the society.
In a university, if students engage and learn from diverse faculty members, it would help develop better knowledge of diverse cultures, languages and foods. Students would be able to adopt improved skills and competencies and be able to deal with people of different nationalities, religious and personal preferences as well as practices. They will learn how to cope up with new thoughts and different ideologies while working in teams and having discussions and debates. Instead of just learning how to be more productive with work, students need to develop their social quotient and be more fit for future organizations. It will enable them to deal with diverse stakeholders at their workplace. Working in UAE means dealing with more than 200 nationalities, as the country boasts of being highly diverse. So, for university students learning to sustain in a diverse environment is not only critical for success but also highly recommended for their own wellbeing and happiness.
To conclude, we must remember as an academic institution it is our duty to make our future generations more robust, tolerant and friendly towards diverse populations. Even GenZ and our students should make consolidated efforts to develop skills and competencies along with positive social fitness to enable themselves to fit in better with the changing diverse society and workplace. Building social fitness in the call of the hour!
- Collins, D. (2019). Business Ethics: Best Practices for Designing and Managing Ethical Organizations. UK: Sage Publications.
- Fact Sheet (2023). https://u.ae/en/about-the-uae/fact-sheet
- Mehta, C. (2023). 2023 is the year of mental health and wellbeing. https://harvardpublichealth.org/mental-health/mental-health-is-on-our-minds/#:~:text=The%20most%20popular%20New%20Year%27s,to%20keep%20this%20goal%20going.&text=The%20new%20year%20always%20feels%20like%20a%20time%20for%20reflection.