Equal Representation in Arbitration (ERA) Pledge: A Turning Point in the Arbitration History for Gender Equality

13 June, 2016

Following the blog posted on Kluwer Arbitration Blog on 2 June 2016 concerning the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge interesting comments were added to the blog that we share with our readers.

This is a great initiative and I’m proud that my company, General Electric has signed on. The real challenge is now following through on our commitment by ensuring that we have consistently diverse slates when considering arbitrator appointments.

Fortunately, remembering to propose diverse candidates is not a difficult thing to do.

Michael McilwrathGlobal Chief Litigation Counsel, GE Oil & Gas – JUNE 5, 2016 AT 8:41 AM

My understanding of the pledge is like this. Let’s say you are the general counsel of a company with headquarters in Bulgaria and you do business in three regions around the world: South America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. There is a legal department in each region and each regional legal department currently keeps a list of five potential arbitrators to appoint if situations arise. Currently every candidate on each regional list is a suitable man. What you have to do then, is make this into three lists of five male/female pairs – for every male candidate you now have, you need to research and find a similarly suitable female candidate (in terms of expertise, experience, language, seniority, gravitas, cultural appropriateness etc.) Next time there is a dispute and someone has to make an actual appointment there you are, fully prepared with your pairs of suitable male or female candidates – which you can then consider for final selection. Once you’ve put your list together, whoever has it has an easy job of making an equal-opportunity appointment. If you discover you can’t put together such a list then you need to reach out to someone, e.g. Arbitral Women or something and get suggestions, then the whole process will keep moving forward. Is that something like the action that is expected right now of pledgors, Mirèze? What do you think Mike? What about other people? I’d be really interested to read about how pledgors have been interpreting / implementing their promises.

James, thank you for your comment. This is indeed in line with the actions expected from stakeholders, i.e. make sure women practitioners with equal qualifications are listed among potential arbitrators to be considered by the parties, their representatives, the co-arbitrators entrusted with the selection of the chair and by arbitration institutions. It is easier today to think outside the box because networks exist to assist in finding profiles, whether online or offline. For example, International Arbitrators Institute gathers a significant number of arbitrators’ profiles including women on http://www.iaiparis.com, and likewise the Who’s who http://whoswholegal.com. ArbitralWomen is willing to assist and is a unique hub for finding female practitioners through its ‘Find Practitioners’ feature on its website https://arbitralwomen.org. Practitioners also have their personal contacts to whom they may reach out to ask for recommendations.

Mirèze PHILIPPEJUNE 11, 2016 AT 8:44 AM