CLM’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee recently held a webinar entitled, “Diversity in Mediation: The 360-Degree View,” which discussed the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the mediation process. Below are a few takeaways from the presentation.
Rebekah Ratliff, Mediator, Arbitrator & Neutral Evaluator, JAMS
Sarah Abrams, Director, Markel Service, Inc.
Jim Saunders, Regional Claims Manager, Lancer Insurance Co.
Winter Wheeler, Mediator, Arbitrator & Attorney, Winter Wheeler Mediation & Arbitration
“Diversity goes beyond race, sex, and age.… Diversity refers really to diverse perspectives. For instance, non-lawyer mediators—like me and Jim, different areas of mediation…and diversity of skillsets and mindsets.”
“We do need to dig in, and we need to re-evaluate and re-assess. I think the only way we can do that is when we have the ability to give opportunities to folks who have diverse, equitable, inclusive initiatives within our own companies, and definitely, on the insurance side, we are reevaluating what that looks like.”
“With respect to mediators…we need to consider who are the individuals that we are selecting to resolve our cases.”
“In terms of looking at the micro piece of this, what do you think about when you’re setting up a mediation and selecting a mediator? You want somebody who is tuned into power differentials, for instance, because power differentials in a mediation can have an incredibly powerful impact on how the process goes, and also what the outcome is likely to be.”
“I don’t think a strategy where you’re saying, ‘OK, we’re just going to appoint diverse and female candidates to do this’—well, why? Let’s do it purposefully. Let’s do it thoughtfully. What’s the basis behind why we’re making those decisions, and how can we fix previous experiences? When we do have an unconscious bias, how do we acknowledge it?”
“First and foremost, people have to stop thinking about diversity as simply race and gender box-ticking.”
“Sometimes there was a conversation about the race or ethnicity of the plaintiff, and whether there was a neutral available that ‘matched’ the plaintiff.... But not much consideration was given to whether, in a specific instance, the type of diversity identified was actually the type of diversity the neutral had.”
“While you might have a racial match, you might not have a cultural match.”