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Civil Service

Mediation Awareness Month throughout October

Rupert McNeil Government Chief People Officer

All aspects of our working lives have been impacted by COVID-19, and mediation is no different. As this month is Mediation Awareness Month, I thought I would highlight some of the fantastic work that is taking place across the Civil Service in this space.

What is mediation?

Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes informally. It involves an independent third party - one or two qualified mediators - who help both sides reach an agreement. Mediation is entirely voluntary and can only take place if both parties agree. Anything discussed and agreed during the mediation is confidential and not shared with any other party. The mediator does not make judgements, take sides or give advice. They support both parties to discuss their issues and reach an agreement.

It’s good to talk for effective office relationships

What are we doing?

We’re committed to improving the standard of mediation across the Civil Service, and to do this, we’re focusing on two, key elements: strengthening our mediation offer by increasing awareness and providing further upskilling for our mediators.

As mediators, understanding how to facilitate a truly inclusive mediation is key. If you are a mediator we have a range of insightful sessions available to you throughout the month to help you do just this, including a really informative session on Neurodiversity. If you’re not aware, this is a catch-all term which reflects the differences in people’s abilities and behaviours depending on their neurological profile. It’s most commonly associated with dyslexia, ADHD and autism and is a topic of growing interest to mediators as we aim to understand more about how a lack of awareness of neurodiversity can not only lead to conflict but also impact on the mediation itself.

I am also delighted to say we are teaming up with the CS Mental Health Conference to give our mediators access to a range of relevant sessions that will increase their understanding of mental health conditions in others, but also give them information about how to maintain their own wellbeing as practitioners in an emotionally demanding field.

How we’ve adapted to COVID-19

Without face to face meetings, a core part of mediation, being an option, we have had to adapt to the times. The CS Mediation Service have proved more than adept at this, and thanks to their commitment and flexibility, have quickly implemented new ways of working across the organisation. They developed guidance on virtual mediation and arranged online training sessions to share their findings in anticipation of these being the main model for the foreseeable future. Although the coming weeks and months will offer us all challenges, I’m pleased to say the Civil Service will be facing them equipped to support our people through effective, if virtual, mediation. 

Who to speak to if you need help

If you are interested in mediation as a manager, senior leader or as someone who finds themselves in a difficult work relationship, there are a number of presentations taking place throughout the month in departments lead by your own mediators that I encourage you to attend.

If you’d like to find out more about how mediation could help you, please get in touch with your Mediation single point of contact or the Civil Service Mediation Service at

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  1. Comment by Mikey L-T posted on

    Good piece, I'm looking forward to hearing the ND session. On it's own Dyslexia represents the single biggest non-visible disability/supper power. Add in the others and we are a significant number of your, colleagues and customers . Making awareness an essential rather than just a nice to have across all organisations. My favourite question is what are Leaders to to ensure their organisations are enabling people and not disabling them.

    (PS I've done a lot of manager training on this in the Home Office, being ND helps to shine a light on the subject for people and make it real.)