Great progress was made last week in raising awareness of the value of mediation. UK Mediation Awareness Week had a number of excellent events.

One that I attended – “The Future of Mediation” – made good use of that excellent Nelson Mandela quote: “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

Sir Alan Ward, one of the speakers, has been the Chairman of the Civil Mediation Council (CMC) since 2014, previously served as a judge at the High Court and the Court of Appeal and is a renowned advocate of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution).

Both he and Lord Justice Briggs, another enthusiast for mediation, have recently painted a picture of greatly overburdened courts creating a perfect storm for the advance of mediation. And both have argued recently that perhaps it’s time to take the “A” out of Alternative Dispute Resolution – in order to make mediation the norm, rather than the exception.

It is so heartening to hear the positive language of the current debate around mediation. And now we need to advance further and create a greater awareness among business leaders, managers and worker representatives around the concept of mediation as a swift, discreet and cost-effective method of resolving employment disputes. Not only that, but mediation can strengthen workplace relationships, as well as mend them.

So let’s keep that positive Mandela message in mind as we go forward. Today’s enemies can become tomorrow’s partners.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions