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Shaping a New Paradigm: Creating Lasting Change through Diversity and Inclusion in Mediation

Improving diversity in the field of mediation is crucial for creating an inclusive and effective environment. Implicit bias can significantly impact diversity in the field of mediation (Banaji et al, 2013). If mediators are not selected through bias-free hiring techniques, there is a risk of perpetuating homogeneous representation. According to Banaji (2013), by implementing bias-free hiring practices, mediation organizations can attract a wider range of candidates from diverse backgrounds. This diversity brings a variety of perspectives, experiences, and skills to the field, which can lead to more innovative solutions that are inclusive of the needs of the diverse communities we all live in today. In this article, we will explore strategies such as blind resumes, work sample tests, and diversity goals, which can help reduce bias and foster a more positive and inclusive environment in mediation.

To reduce bias in the hiring process and increase diversity in the field of mediation, several strategies can be implemented. Firstly, using blind resumes can help level the playing field by focusing on candidates’ qualifications and talents rather than demographic characteristics favoured by our implicit biases (Knight, 2017). Software programs that blind the process can be utilized to improve the chances of including relevant candidates in the interview pool (Knight, 2017). This ensures that individuals from marginalized groups have equal opportunities to showcase their abilities in the hiring process.

Additionally, incorporating work sample tests that simulate job-related tasks provides valuable insights into candidates’ abilities and is a strong predictor of future job performance (Knight, 2017). By evaluating work samples from multiple applicants, hiring managers can objectively compare candidates’ performance and minimize unconscious bias based on appearance, gender, age, or personality (Knight, 2017). Incorporating work sample tests alongside blind resumes strengthens the hiring process, promoting a merit-based environment, and increasing the likelihood of selecting the most qualified individuals. 

Knight (2017) also addresses the importance of setting diversity goals as essential to make diversity a priority within the organization. Tracking progress against these goals at the end of each hiring process encourages accountability and keeps diversity and equality at the forefront. By presenting data that highlights the operational benefits of diversity, organizations can effectively engage colleagues and stakeholders, garnering support and participation in promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace (Knight, 2017). 

Diversity is an important conversation within the field of mediation for several reasons. Based on the findings in Why Diversity Matters by Hunt, Layton, and Prince (2015), diverse teams in mediation tend to yield better outcomes by being more innovative, having better problem-solving skills, and being better at decision-making. This is essential in mediation where creative thinking and novel solutions are crucial. Having a more diverse team of mediators will allow for a broader range of perspectives and approaches to the mediation process, which can lead to higher success rates and client satisfaction. 

Secondly, the study found that by hiring mediators from diverse backgrounds, an environment that welcomes and includes all clients, regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity, can be created (Hunt et al, 2015). Creating an inclusive environment is critical to the success of mediation, with many clients entering mediation from a place of fear, doubt, a lack of support, and a lack of understanding. Having more mediators that are representative provides clients with a safe and inclusive environment where they can feel heard and understood, allowing for improved quality of service.

However, despite the best intentions, diversity initiatives often fall short in creating real change within an organization. According to Why Diversity Programs Fail by Dobbin and Kalev (2016), many diversity programs focus on compliance rather than genuine inclusion, resulting in superficial efforts that do not address the underlying issues. Additionally, mandatory training often backfires, as it may be perceived as forced and ineffective in changing behaviours (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016). Furthermore, overemphasizing cultural differences instead of commonalities can lead to further divisions and hinder collaboration (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016). Finally, the role of bias in decision-making is often ignored, perpetuating discriminatory practices (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016).

To achieve lasting change and promote diversity among mediators, organizations should adopt certain strategies. Firstly, diversity should be prioritized in hiring and promotions, with leaders making it clear that they value diversity and holding everyone accountable for inclusive behaviours (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016). Secondly, setting specific diversity goals, measuring progress regularly, and linking managers’ compensation to their success in meeting those goals can promote accountability (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016). Moreover, empowering employees to take an active role in creating an inclusive culture is crucial for the success of diversity initiatives (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016). Lastly, addressing biases embedded in systems and processes is essential, as it goes beyond changing individual behaviours and focuses on creating equitable structures (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016).

Creating lasting change goes beyond superficial diversity programs, it requires a fundamental shift in mindset and culture. Implementing a comprehensive diversity and inclusion dashboard, equipped with powerful measurement tools like the Diversity Meter, Maturity Meter, and Culture Meter (Vardhmane, 2017). These tools enable organizations to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, facilitating evidence-based decisions that align with their diversity and inclusion goals.

The Diversity Meter evaluates two aspects of the workplace: representation of diverse groups and feelings of inclusion. It employs an online census and survey based on research and methodology, providing insights for organizations to make informed decisions about their diversity and inclusion strategies. The Maturity Meter assesses the maturity of an organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy through an online questionnaire and survey, offering a third-party perspective on their progress. The Culture Meter, specifically the Identity Assessment, employs a quantitative approach to gather perspectives from different identity groups within the workforce through interviews or focus groups.

The field of mediation can benefit from this toolkit to effectively improve diversity among mediators. By utilizing the Diversity Meter, organizations can assess the representation of diverse groups within their mediator pool and identify areas for improvement. The Maturity Meter can help organizations evaluate the maturity of their diversity and inclusion efforts within their mediation practices. Additionally, the Culture Meter’s Identity Assessment can gather information on the perspectives of various identity groups, providing insights into the experiences and challenges faced by different mediators. Overall, these tools enable the field of mediation to collect data, measure progress, and make evidence-based decisions to enhance diversity and inclusion in mediator selection and practices.

Promoting diversity in the field of mediation is vital for better outcomes, improved client relationships, and fair evaluation of candidates. By adopting bias-free hiring techniques and embracing inclusive practices, organizations can enhance innovation, problem-solving, and decision-making in mediation. To create lasting change, leaders must prioritize diversity, set specific goals, empower employees, and address systemic biases. Additionally, utilizing data-driven decision-making tools like the Diversity Meter, Maturity Meter, and Culture Meter can provide valuable insights and support evidence-based decisions to enhance diversity and inclusion in mediator selection and practices. By taking these steps, the field of mediation can create a more diverse and inclusive environment that reflects the needs and experiences of all parties involved.

References: 

Banaji, Mahzarin R., and Anthony G. Greenwald. Blindspot : Hidden Biases of Good People. New York, Delacorte Press, 2013.

Dobbin, Frank, and Alexandra Kalev. “Why Diversity Programs Fail.” Harvard Business Review, July 2016, hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail    

Hunt, D. V., Layton, D., & Prince, S. (2015, January 1). Why diversity matters | McKinsey. www.mckinsey.com. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/why-diversity-matters 

Knight, R. (2017, June 12). 7 Practical Ways to Reduce Bias in Your Hiring Process. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/06/7-practical-ways-to-reduce-bias-in-your-hiring-process

Vardhmane, S. (2017). Diversity & inclusion councils. Toolkit for diversity and inclusion practitioners. Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. https://ccdi.ca/media/1072/20170831-ccdi-diversity-council-toolkit-final-v3.pdf 

                        author

Aaron Sidhu

Aaron Sidhu is a young professional with an LLB from the University of Leicester and an ADR Graduate Certificate from Humber College. He is a Qualified Mediator and is passionate about providing inclusive restoration services to diverse communities. Aaron is passionate about employment law, workplace restoration, human rights law, and… MORE >

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