Diversity in Arbitration in Europe: Insights from a Large Scale Empirical Study
21 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016
Date Written: July 3, 2015
While issues of gender and ethnic diversity have become prominent in all areas of law, there is reason to believe that the insular nature of the arbitration community, combined with the importance of personal connections to receiving career opportunities in arbitration will make diversity a particularly complex matter in arbitration as a field of professional practice. That is, while there is no evidence that arbitration practitioners are as a group any more likely to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or gender than other legal professionals, fields in which career progression is tightly linked to receiving the support of “gatekeepers” can present particular obstacles for non-Male and minority practitioners, who may be less likely to make strong social connections with those gatekeepers, and so be less likely to receive opportunities for career progression.
In 2014 a team at Brunel University, as part of a study being conducted for the European Parliament, undertook a large-scale survey of arbitration practitioners across the European Union and Switzerland. While this Survey was not primarily focused on questions of diversity, all respondents were asked to self-identify both their gender and their ethnicity, with selection of multiple ethnicities being permitted. Consequently, although the Survey aimed at offering a comprehensive picture of arbitration in all EU Member States and Switzerland, rather than focusing on the specific question of diversity, it generated information on both the levels of non-Male and ethnic minority involvement in arbitration, and, through cross-analysis of data, on career progression within arbitration of non-Male and ethnic minority arbitration practitioners. This article will provide a brief overview of these results, which do indeed indicate ongoing diversity-related problems within arbitration.
Keywords: arbitration, diversity
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