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Diversifying Neutrals

Takeaways from the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee's recent webinar, “Diversity in Mediation: The 360-Degree View”

April 14, 2021 Photo

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.

12:00:00 p.m.


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


Rebekah Ratliff

“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.”


Sarah Abrams

“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.”


Sarah Abrams

“With respect to mediators…we need to consider who are the individuals that we are selecting to resolve our cases.”


Jim Saunders

“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.”


Sarah Abrams

“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?”


Winter Wheeler

“First and foremost, people have to stop thinking about diversity as simply race and gender box-ticking.”


Winter Wheeler

“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.”


Winter Wheeler

“While you might have a racial match, you might not have a cultural match.”

About The Authors
Phil Gusman

Phil Gusman is senior managing editor for CLM Magazine and Construction Claims magazine.  phil.gusman@theclm.org

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Through education and action, CLM’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee advances the mission of inclusion, and identifies and supports practices that demonstrate leadership in common core values. The committee offers unique opportunities to help strengthen CLM’s partners and perspectives.

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