Scottish Mediation recently renewed its strategy for the next three years and in doing so determined that our vision is of a Scotland where people, communities and organisations respectfully deal with disagreements. It might seem a straightforward thing to say however there are lots of examples across Scotland where we are simply not good at respectfully dealing with disagreements.
In doing so one thing we recognised early on was that in order for Scottish Mediation to be effective we need to better reflect the diversity of the population we serve. Our thinking in this area has been influenced by an exercise we did using Hallmark of Inclusion which examined how Scottish Mediation itself measures how people feel about their workplace environment and looking at how safe people feel in work, how accessible we are as an organisation, our diversity and how well people feel supported.
The results were essentially doing okay, but could do better, so we are now working through some practical ways to improve things.
There’s a couple of ways we’re looking to take things forward. The first is to understand how reflective of Scotland our Register of Mediators is, the second to ensure that we welcome and encourage a diverse range of people to be involved in our organisation.
On the first objective there are compelling reasons for us to act. The first is that we want mediation to be something that people will seek to use in a range of different situations and we need to ensure that mediators are available in communities across Scotland to do that work. Put bluntly if mediation is seen as a white middle class, late career activity we will restrict it’s potential across Scotland. The second is that by having a diverse range of mediators we are likely to improve the practice of all mediators through the sharing and learning we facilitate. That comes from different thinking, challenging norms and providing insight into different cultures. During the pandemic we have benefited from speaking to people from across the world and learning from their experiences, I believe there is a similar potential by learning from a more diverse community in Scotland.
On our second objective, ensuring our organisation is diverse and welcoming will support good governance and critical thinking in Scottish Mediation. We are about to look at recruiting new Board members and have been thinking about how we can ensure our recruitment goes beyond our usual networks so that our Board reflects Scottish society. Over the past few years we have increased our spread across Scotland and have a good gender balance but we don’t have representation from the BAME community and from younger people. We are looking to tackle that and if you’re interested, we’d like to hear from you.
As you might imagine our new strategy maps out work in a range of areas that we need to tackle. We’d like to see better access to mediation for everyone, more use of mediation in organisations, mediation run by young people in schools, mediation as a first step in civil justice and more opportunities for everyone to learn how to take a mediation approach to solving disputes.