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One of the brightest reasons that companies value diverse teams is because of the fresh cuts and new ideas that different people can bring to the table.

The value of diversity and inclusion has become so strong that companies will pass over highly skilled people in favor of people who can add to the creative mix of a team.

However, there is one big snag. Human resources departments rely too heavily on data to run their diversity, equity and inclusion choices. Investor reports are filled with beautiful graphics and writeups on how many black, gay, or female employees they have.

How are people’s individuality being evaluated? Reporting on “diversity group” bylines seems to be the antithesis of an inclusive workplace. Isn’t the cornerstone of unconscious bias training to not label people and look beyond their group identity?

Switching the Focus to the Individual

How do we go beyond group identity and start talking about people as individuals? Perhaps we need to stop talking about Diversity, with a capital D, which has already lost meaning and been reduced to a buzzword.

I like the word uniqueness as the new definition of diversity. No longer do we have to tie value to group identities. Uniqueness frees us to focus more on the person underneath.

In the work environment, nobody wants to be seen based on their assigned traits: sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities or socio economic status.

People want to be seen for how they navigated in contrast to their group diversities — how they created a unique, individual identity outside of what was given to them.

“Diversity” that Data Can’t Capture

How are we going to start measuring the valuable individuality that each of us possess, that isn’t related to our group identity?

Our best saleswoman has lived in five different countries and is the most adaptable person I know. Our best facilitator is a former dancer and has the energy to make even a stone start to smile.

Our best coordination manager is a lesbian, but that has nothing to do with her individuality, her taking care of her family’s wellbeing since childhood is what has made her unique — she’s the most sweet and attention related employee I’ve known.

These traits are not “diversity” traits that any online course would teach. Yet, if we want to talk about what makes people different, what gives them that special mix that a diverse workforce needs, these qualities mean everything.

How Uniqueness Benefits Equity and Inclusion Training

In creating a professional development course, employee engagement is fundamental. The buy-in must come from everyone.

When we put labels on diversity in the form of group identity, we estrange people from interaction. If someone doesn’t relate to the coursework, it’s normal that the training will fail.

In order to create inclusion in your training program, the work should be centered around the individual. It should be a personal journey into uniqueness.

Understand what makes you special, from all areas of your life.

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