Communicate HR Confidentiality Explicitly in Business and at Work

Yes, I’m a mediation geek. My idea of a fun Saturday is sharpening the saw by taking an advanced mediation training. As we learned about how trauma impacts interpersonal conflict, we also engaged in a deep discussion regarding the ongoing importance of confidentiality in mediation services provided by NYS nonprofit Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CRDCs) like Mediation Matters, where I’m a volunteer mediator.  Confidentiality is so critical to the efficacy of CDRC mediation, that a clear confidentiality statement is included in the standard Consent to Mediate form that all parties must sign before participating in mediation:

Confidentiality. I understand that under NY State law mediators and staff of Mediation Matters may not disclose anything said or written regarding the mediation. All records related to mediation, including statements, memoranda, work products, and case files are confidential, and may not be disclosed in connection with or used in any court proceedings. I understand that the following exceptions to confidentiality apply:

a) the following information may be disclosed to the referring agency or court:

  1. the date that this mediation occurred;
  2. the parties’ request, if any, for additional time to mediate;
  3. the outcome of the session including a copy of the agreement if we reach one.

b) any information or allegations of child abuse or neglect disclosed to the staff of Mediation Matters or the mediator before, during or after the mediation process may be disclosed to the appropriate authority; and

c) any information or allegations of an actual or imminent threat to any person’s safety, may be disclosed to the appropriate authority.

The confidentiality required of Human Resources practitioners is not entirely dissimilar, although there are some differences. I was trained by great HR mentors to maintain the boundaries of confidentiality required to protect both employees and the organization. And while that need for confidentiality is always implied, it is important to take every opportunity to, like the Consent to Mediate form statement, to explicitly express the importance of maintaining confidentiality in the practice of Human Resources.  For example, in my work with my clients, I often request to sign a Nondisclosure Form (NDA), as I conduct my HR work as if I’m working under an NDA – and I welcome the explicit assurance of confidentiality to reinforce the mutual trust required to work effectively together.

How do you explicity communicate the requisite confidentiality boundaries of HR in your organization, in business and at work?

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