Like many things in life, the world of diversity training has its buzzwords that often confuse or confound those unfamiliar with the subject. In this piece, Bradley Honnor, Founder and Managing Director of MatchFit, explains how some of the current buzzwords in this field relate to “phenomenological methods” of training.
To give the following buzzwords and my explanations context, let me first explain that while ‘diversity and inclusion’ is a good thing, it can result in ‘diversity and exclusion’.
With society creating diverse groups for different people, such as those who identify as transgender, those who do not identify as transgender are less likely to be part of this group and may effectively feel excluded. Diversity and inclusion training should explore this notion to bring people closer together.
Think of contextual diversity as the type of culture or environment you might find yourself in, any group within that context or when you associate yourself to a specific group. Making sense of your individual context is important. You might say: I am a white male, live in the South East, am a professional and that my friends are in similar environments regarding where and how they live, what we do and enjoy. This context defines our culture to a large degree, which is why contextual diversity is so closely linked to cultural diversity.
Personal diversity is more about difference and uniqueness. For example, we know that everyone’s sexuality and sexual persuasion are very different. Attraction is a very individual experience; there is a whole continuum of preferences. It’s a very personal diversity and may also include the gender we identify with, for example.
It is actually quite complicated. Within your diversity, you will still be within a context, but it’s a phenomenological context. We can both be in the same context, and you have your own diversity, and I have mine. So we will, by definition, be interpreting the context completely differently and having a completely different experience.
Neurodiversity is about how we are wired. No one is wired in the same way. We might have some similarities, but clearly, the way everybody thinks is different. Even when we say we are on the same page as someone else, we really are not.
How we are wired, think, and connect the synapses in our brain are all very individual. In neurodiversity, we believe we would think similarly to people like us, but in psychotherapy training, you can identify more differences than similarities. We are formulating neurological pathways all the time to understand and interpret our external context.
Cognitive diversity is similar to neurodiversity but is more about thinking than how we are wired. It is why we see unique and diverse viewpoints within a workplace. Cognitive diversity is how innovation and new ideas are borne. These viewpoints come from phenomenological experience and interpretation, which is why we do not all have the same ideas at the same time.
All of these diversities are about peoples’ experiences of the world and sit within a phenomenological worldview. If you look at diversity and the phenomenological perspective on diversity, every single human on the planet has a completely different and unique experience. We get into the habit of grouping ourselves together—for example, we are men, so we have similarities—but this goes against the phenomenological diversity model as we actually may have as much in common with a female as we do with a male.
The phenomenological methodology isn’t often considered. We do generally look through the lens of gender or ethnicity or a particular group or type of people. What that can do is divide people and not help society consider diversity in the most productive way.
A person might think, for example: “I’m not like that, or it doesn’t apply to me because I’m not in that group”, but it’s healthier to understand that all individuals are unique. So when we really talk diversity, it’s at a level that is more likely to engage the majority of people.
Bradley Honnor has over 20 years of experience in corporate management and leadership and has worked with clients such as BNP Paribas, the Ministry of Justice and Quilter Cheviot.