As an established profession supporting clients to resolve their disputes, it is important that mediation, as with all professions, reflects the society that it serves. The diversity of mediators in being able to bring different experiences, perspectives and styles can be an important factor in achieving resolution.
There is a clear need to increase diversity in mediation, particularly on the grounds of gender, age and race. The data from CEDR’s 2020 Mediation Audit indicates:
- 41% of experienced mediators are female.
- Non-white mediators make up only 8% of the mediator profession compared with 17% of solicitors; and
- 75% of commercial mediators are over the age of 50 with the average age of a male mediator being 59 and a female mediator being 53.
This need for diversity is also reflected in the views of lawyers and mediators surveyed by the 2020 audit who saw a particular need for an increase in non-white mediators and those who are under 50.
The CEDR Audit identified an appetite for proactive work from mediation organisations and law firm clients to help improve the diversity of the mediation profession:
- 92% of lawyers surveyed said they would support a charter;
- 100% of lawyers said that where mediator recommendation lists are provided that they always include diverse candidates; and
- 92% of lawyers and 96% of mediators supported the use of junior mediators as assistants working with senior mediators to increase access to the field. For law firms, therefore, this charter focuses on improving representation of these three protected characteristics, whilst recognising that there is work to do to improve diversity and increase the inclusion of people with all protected characteristics. We want mediators to be selected through fair and transparent processes that focus on their competence and experience as mediators, rather than any other factors. We acknowledge that Law Firms have a fundamental part to play in helping us to encourage the inclusivity of mediators from all backgrounds.
In our approach to improving diversity, we are not seeking to exclude any individual mediator. Rather, we seek to increase opportunities for all by direct and indirect barriers to progression and development.
Change does not happen in a vacuum and we are aware of the need for there to be a public acknowledgement of the importance of diversity in the mediation profession, from those working as mediators, mediator providers and mediation training providers, and clients.
Mediation is a voluntary process by all involved and comes frequently with a large amount of choice. In committing to a charter, we are asking those who sign it to pledge to utilise that choice in a way that supports these values and improves commercial mediation.