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Mediation offers a diversity ‘blindspot’ profit generation opportunity during the recession

Mediation is becoming increasingly important in the workplace as a means of resolving tensions between individuals and even groups. Once trade unions played a major mediation role; but as membership has declined the use of professional mediators has significantly increased.


It is an inevitable fact that there will be tensions between individuals in the workplace. Resolving these is critical to maintaining and increasing performance. They can be between manager and team member or two key employees who work closely together or even between teams. One challenging situation I encountered was between a supplier and a client who believed that delivery of the supplier’s service would be optimised by their operating together in a partnership arrangement. Unfortunately, reality was far from this ideal and the relationship was bedevilled by bickering and misunderstanding.


During the recession diversity specialists need to be helping their organisations, or those they work with, find profit generating diversity ‘blindspots’. Regular readers of IDC’s best practices will recall that a ‘blindspot’, related to diversity, is “a missed business opportunity linked to diverse employees, suppliers, community, marketing, business development, or capital investment”. It is our experience that mediation is a diversity ‘blindspot’ in many organisations and its adoption, or increased use, could add a big contribution to the bottom line. In the first instance, in most organisations, tensions and disagreements between individuals or groups are left to smolder without any intervention, mediation or otherwise. Clearly, this can have big consequences on performance. The disagreements and suspicions between the supplier and client, described earlier, absorbed many hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling before they were addressed. Even then it took time to recognise that a major contributor to the misunderstandings was the cultural difference between the US supplier and the UK client – a diversity issue.


In the second instance, it is likely that during the recession situations that would benefit from mediation using internal, or external, mediators, e.g. redundancy, job transfer, management re-structuring or reduced hours, will increase rapidly. Moreover, these mediation opportunities will often involve diversity differences, e.g. generational, race or ethnicity, gender, physical ability, faith and sexual orientation, and it will be critical for the mediation to take account of these. The impartiality of the mediator and the fairness and equality of the mediation structure is well placed to deal with complex and sensitive situations.


IDC has teamed up with PMR Ltd, a market leader in mediation training and services, so that we can offer clients a means of addressing this diversity ‘blindspot’ opportunity.


Dr Ian Dodds,

30 Nov 08

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