Hundreds of workers demanded higher wages from their employer – a large food producer. When management refused to comply, the workers went on strike. The dispute presented the challenging task of mediating a conflict involving hundreds of people. At mediation, the company’s management said that the company could not afford to pay higher wages, while the workers said they could not afford the very food they helped produce.
The mediation lasted for a number of weeks until the company’s founder got involved. He had started the business as a small corner shop and developed it into a successful, large corporation. When he learned of the hardships his workers faced, he remembered similar challenges he had confronted earlier in his life. To him, the company was much more than a business – it was his legacy in the community. He stepped in as the sole company representative at mediation, listening to his employees discuss their poverty and obstacles to a better life. He was brought to tears and realized that his managers had lost sight of the greater role the company played in the community. He instructed them to comply with the workers’ requests for higher wages and the workers blessed him and expressed their gratitude. Further, he encouraged them to approach him in the future and sought a more active role in resolving potential conflicts.