Addressing Power Inequities Early

Wallace Warfield

Former CRS Mediator, Washington D.C. Office

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

What advice would you give to someone coming into this field?

A: Someone coming into this field? For me, this is really the most interesting work that I have ever done. I gave up a tenured academic position to do this work and I just turned down one elsewhere. I think for me, and I don't mean this to denigrate mediation, to me it is much more interesting than just mediation, for two reasons. One is you have the latitude of being more inventive in the kind of interventions you do, although there are some mediators who I think are enormously creative in how the handle situations.

The other is because you have the responsibility and therefore the opportunity to address systemic issues in organizations, mediators don't. I mean, mediators within organizations they come in and they have problems that are addressed to them and they have to address those conflicts one after the other. Here it is a much broader responsibility, it is a real interesting kind of work but I don't know how to translate that into advice. People are coming around and asking about the work all of the time, but it is usually how can I get into the field, because it is not always that easy to break in. Many organizations will only select people from within the organization already.

It is only in the last several years that there has been more of a tendency to recruit people from the outside, but that is happening. Even there, the corporate world tends to be pretty insulated to select primarily people from the corporate world, the academic world . Well, it is getting a little bit better that way.