ERA Pledge Logo

Female Representation in Arbitration in the COVID-19 Era

14 May, 2020

Since its launch in 2016, the Equal Representation in Arbitration (ERA) Pledge has become a beacon in the pursuit of female representation in arbitration. From its inception, the Pledge has had two main objectives: to improve the profile and representation of women in arbitration, and to encourage the business and dispute resolution communities to appoint women as arbitrators on an equal opportunity basis. The Pledge is guided by a Steering Committee formed of senior arbitration practitioners and users from around the world and currently has over 4,000 signatories, composed of individuals, firms and organisations committed to taking concrete actions to further these objectives.

The under-representation of women in arbitration is nevertheless very much a reality. The lack of visibility of female arbitrators is often cited as a reason for the low number of women on arbitral tribunals, which prompted the ERA Pledge Steering Committee to consider ways to facilitate sharing information about qualified female candidates and contribute to an increase in the visible pool of female arbitrators (see “New female arbitrator search tool launched to promote greater equality in arbitration”). To provide an answer to this problem, an “Arbitrator Search” tool was launched shortly after the Pledge.

The “Arbitrator Search” tool seeks to assist arbitration users in their search of female arbitrators. To this end, a Search Committee was constituted, composed of volunteers from arbitral institutions (excluding individuals from law firms in order to avoid any conflict of interest) to provide names of female arbitrator candidates who may be less well known, but who are considered to have relevant experience. No member of the Search Committee may be proposed as a potential candidate.

Anyone can benefit from the “Arbitrator Search” service by simply completing the form on the Pledge’s website. To enable the Search Committee to propose names, it needs to be provided with information about the requirements of the person seeking assistance, who must complete the fields related to the expertise of the prospective arbitrator, relevant information about the dispute, applicable law, languages needed for the case, place of arbitration, an estimation of the amount in dispute if possible, and any nationality that should not be considered for a given dispute. Once the request is received, the Search Committee identifies potential candidates to propose based on the criteria provided in the completed form. Candidates are proposed without any commitment or liability for the ERA Pledge, its Steering Committee or the Search Committee members, as explained on the “Arbitrator Search” tool and in a Kluwer Arbitration Blog post (see “One Step Further after the Launch of the ERA Pledge: A Search Service for Female Arbitrators Appointments”). Information provided by users of the “Arbitrator Search” tool and all work by the Search Committee are kept confidential.

The Pledge’s “Arbitrator Search” tool is a timely and valuable resource at a time when more disputes subject to arbitration are likely to arise due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, and when arbitration may play a more important role in this context.

Submitted by Karima Sauma, Executive Director of the International Center for Conciliation and Arbitration of the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce, and Mirèze Philippe, Special Counsel ICC International Court of Arbitration and ArbitralWomen Co-Founder