It’s been fascinating to watch the ADR industry fully embrace the concept of diversity amongst mediators and arbitrators. I’m humbled by the power of Alterity ADR‘s unapologetic and visible message that diversity has real business value. In our short existence, we have helped changed the conversation and the future of dispute resolution. With so many in our industry clearly listening, I challenge others to join us. As the leader of what was initially the first national dispute resolution company operated by a black woman and now the largest run by a person of color, I don’t relish being the only one in this space. I welcome the opportunity to sit amongst a sea of diverse providers, all with our own unique value in the marketplace.
There is a business case for diversity in ownership in ADR firms, and it is quite simply that a commitment to diversity starts at the top. When the business community looks to see who can help them provide the best environment for their diverse employees and the best neutrals to resolve the cases that affect those diverse employees, they know they can trust a firm that was founded on the premise that diversity matters. When diverse neutrals look for an organization that will support them and their businesses, they need no further validation than a mission that has never wavered.
Diversity is not a marketing tool; it’s not a trending hashtag for SEO; it’s who we are at Alterity. ADR lags behind in ownership because it is more comfortable to put a new face on the same system and maintain the status quo. It’s an opportunity to pat oneself on the back and suggest an evolution, even a revolution is afoot. When the smoke clears, what is revealed is that those with a seat the table are the same people they have always been.
We are at a crossroads in dispute resolution where businesses are beginning to understand that they need to redefine what it means to “win” a matter. They understand they need to consider the needs of those who are not always direct parties to a matter — that’s why they’ve made diversity a priority. ADR firms should be challenged to similarly prioritize diversity from the top down.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s possible for ADR– whether it’s services you’d like to see or referrals of promising neutrals. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.