National Mediation Conference 2014 – Pathways to Resolution: The Challenge of Diversity

Over 600 delegates from around the world gathered for the National Mediation Conference September 2014, held at the Grand Hyatt, Melbourne.

Sally chaired sections of the Business and Workplace stream, and as part of this, was very pleased to introduce the session on “Diversity; Power and Rank: Hidden Causes of Conflict Development & Escalation” by Rho Sandberg, Director, CLE Consulting.

Rho spoke of the concept of RANK, which occurs when we hold higher power or rank status than another. Power can defined as “the sum of all rank held in any moment”.  Power and rank can be assessed by and result in, certain entitlements and privileges which are not shared by all people within organizations.

We also hold rank by virtue of who we are as individuals (due to personal characteristics and life experience) and as a consequence of the roles we occupy in life

Rank is contextual, subjective, perceptual, and relative – this is important to be aware of because by virtue of holding more rank than another, we lose awareness of the power and rank we have, and the risk of abuse or misuse exists. It isn’t until you experience little or no rank that you can really be aware of the impact of little rank. Having awareness is the key – we have the rank we have, it is how much we are aware of it and how we use it which is so critical.

There are four types of rank:

  1. Structural or social rank
  1. Psychological Rank
  1. Spiritual Rank
  1. Moral Rank

Rho then went on to describe what Dr. Julie Diamond talks about as “Rank Fouls”, which is a term used to describe situations where there is often unintended misuse of power in the workplace and the impact of one’s behavior on others can be negative or harmful. She provided examples of people being unaware of their rank, pretending that they didn’t have any, underestimating the impact of what they said, and not stepping up and using their rank.

If you want to read more on this, visit Rho’s blog at



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