When it comes to diversity in arbitration, there has been a steady rise in gender diversity in arbitration in the last four years. Studies have shown that the percentage of women arbitrators appointed have nearly doubled within this period.
This was chiefly due to the drive-by arbitral institutions to appoint more female arbitrators than ever before. This resulted in women making up for 34% of the arbitrators appointed by arbitral institutions in 2019. The appointment of female arbitrators by disputing parties has risen from 9% in 2015 to 14% in 2020.
The Equal Arbitration Pledge by the arbitration community champions this movement and there have been positive results from this as well as from other efforts by the arbitration community to further the course.
Reasons for Gender Diversity in Arbitration
There are certain reasons why gender diversity in arbitration is important. Some of these reasons are:
It is mandated by international law
Gender diversity plays a great role in the sustainable developmental, economic and global goals. It promotes growth in these areas and is a solid component of international trade, national interests as well as investments.
One of the SDGs (No 5) advocates for gender equality. This, therefore, accentuates the fact that there is a need to promote women participation and leadership in all strata of economic and social development. Some states have enacted laws to this effect.
Arbitration is an effective tool that, utilized properly, can be used in solving economic problems and subsequently achieving the related goals. Hence, as such an impactful sector, it should reflect practices that align with the international laws.
This implies that, should any issues surface regarding gender exclusion and discrimination, either in the appointment of arbitrators or in general practice, necessary corrective measures should be taken to immediately address such issues.
With the ever-increasing demand for arbitration, given the number of disputes constantly rising from international and cross-border partnerships and globalization, not getting all on board would be an unwise move.
A female is not defined by her gender alone. Her achievements, ethnicity, age, background, experiences and other things serve to distinguish her and these unique attributes can be brought to bear in any capacity in which she serves, and in this context, international arbitration.
So, neglecting the pursuance of gender diversity in arbitration is synonymous with leaving a lot of talent and skills and metaphorically speaking, ‘money on the table’.
It boosts credibility
In disputes about the state or any other public related disputes in which arbitration plays a significant and authoritative role in their effective resolution, which sometimes, maybe on an international scale, the tribunal assigned to that case must be diversified also.
This is because, with regards to issues of national or public interest, there is bound to be a diversity of stakeholders with interests entwined in the disputes.
So, to give legitimacy as well as credibility to the resulting arbitral award, gender diversity is all the more encouraged.
It improves the outcome of the arbitrary process
International arbitration is a means for resolving disputes that span across cultures, nationalities, peoples and gender.
Studies have shown that disputing parties are liable to trust a tribunal that is diversified over one which isn’t. This is because individual experiences differ and relative experiences should be aligned to the particular dispute being resolved.
Also, diversity in a tribunal would aid in decision making because, different slants and perspectives would be applied to the issue at hand, and as a result, a better and more informed decision would be made.
The Role of Arbitral Institutions
Recent times have seen arbitral institutions handling the appointment of arbitrators as against the prior system of party autonomy (choosing your arbitrators as well as your procedures for arbitration yourself), though this system still holds.
This development, however, places a timely opportunity for the arbitrary institutions to step in, and do the needful when it comes to enhancing gender diversity in the arbitration workspace.
The SCC (Stockholm Chamber of Commerce), is already exemplifying this conduct. Their detailed statistic points to this fact. There was a step up in the number of appointed female arbitrators, from 8% in 2017 to an impressive 27% now. Arbitrators appointed by the disputing parties also moved up from 8% in 2017 to 24% currently.
Same with the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce). They’ve appointed up to 32% more female arbitrators as well as 30% female sole arbitrators.
The SIAC (Singapore International Arbitration Centre) has also reported on its appointment of female arbitrators in recent times, but it has not released any statistics yet regarding party-appointed arbitrators or the number of appointed tribunals with a woman on it. But, this is highly anticipated.
From this article, we can see the need for gender diversity in the arbitration process. Not harnessing the benefits that are embedded in appointing female arbitrators, to sit on a tribunal for effective dispute resolution doesn’t point to the best practices.
Arbitral institutions have a great opportunity on their hands to bring about change in this aspect, and should therefore go about it with enthusiasm.
The past few years have seen a positive change in respect to this, and it is a welcomed development. But there are still opportunities available to better further the cause of gender diversity in international arbitration.
At Rattsakuten we recognize this need for gender diversity in arbitration, that is why we do not hesitate to support the appointment of female arbitrators.
Are you in need of expert counsel regarding the resolution of your disputes, or are you considering going for arbitration to resolve it? Then, let our team of highly trained and experienced lawyers walk you through the process, step by step, for the effective resolution of your dispute.
Want to get started right away? Give us a call now.