New Joint CEO and YESS-Mediate - a new life?

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YESS is 4 years old and thriving – just the right time for a new Joint CEO, Karen Teago (starting in June), to develop it further with Emma Webster and for me to step back.  Karen will be brilliant and already has lots of exciting ideas for YESS. It will be great to help (not interfere…) if/where I can.  I will continue with some advice work – mainly coaching employees  – and mediation.


There are rumours that I am retiring.  My friends are sceptical not believing I will ever retire – despite protestations that I intend  to work much less.  I am beginning to admit they are probably right – that I need a ‘new project’ – so that’s the plan.


I will continue developing early dispute resolution –  trying to get to the issue before it becomes a dispute.  We have an ADR group of employment lawyers and plan to set up a group of collaborative employment lawyers – and more.  Anyone interested let me know.


I am a mediator and hope to grow this service for YESS.  Too many workplace conflicts could be avoided by early communication or mediation.  As I have been ‘preaching’ for a while, I believe that grievances do more harm than good and should be a ‘last’ not ‘first’ resort.


And, finally, I am mulling over how to support women at work who so often suffer discrimination at different stages of their working life.  First, harassment when relatively young, then pregnancy/maternity discrimination and finally, in later life, double discrimination of age and gender.  It’s a triple whammy.  After 25 years of employment advice, I do ‘know’ litigation is not the answer. Although settlement is often best for both parties, gagging clauses generally mean that discrimination and harassment are swept under the carpet so the same issue hits the next unfortunate employee.


Employers may need help to get it right but often there is reluctance to deal with senior employees who have too much power so avoid being disciplined. #MeToo has been fantastic but I wonder how many women suffering discrimination still fear putting their head above the parapet to complain.


We need a spotlight on bad employment practices and unequal pay. Employees need help/coaching so they are supported instead of being isolated within the workplace.  Who is going to hold to account those employers with huge pay gaps as revealed by the pay audits? Without total pay transparency it is only a small first step.  It will not solve the pay gap or enable women to argue for equal pay with male peers.


We know from #Metoo that the problem is power and that can only be redressed by women (and men) collaborating to challenge the powerful and support the powerless.  It’s a tough challenge.


Camilla Palmer

Life's too short to litigate