New SCC report – temperature check on diversity in arbitration

A new SCC survey on diversity in arbitrator appointments, reviewing 1251 appointments in 690 disputes, shows a positive trend and momentum. But is also shows us that we have long way to go before we reach equality in arbitrator appointments. Sharing these facts, we hope to inspire further discussions – and convey a call to joint action.

Diversity, gender equality and inclusion are placed among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, passed by the UN in 2015. The prerequisite for the implementation of this global road map to a sustainable future, is both joint ownership and participation among all actors in society. The SCC has long since integrated a diversity perspective in its arbitrator appointment process.

– Arbitrators are the face of arbitration, and it’s important both for its inherent value and for the quality of arbitration that those faces represent the world around us. Diversity is necessary for arbitration to maintain a sustainable ecosystem and stay relevant, says Head of Business Development Lise Alm about the report.

A pool that includes more diverse talent means greater access to candidates with the necessary specialisation, qualifications, experience, language skills, and availability. International arbitration also should mirror the increasingly diverse character of the parties. In the long term, increased diversity in arbitrator ranks may also lead to greater legitimacy and use of arbitration.

The survey
To gain a comprehensive view of arbitrator appointments we have conducted a review of the five-year period 2015–2019. The study surveyed 1251 appointments in 690 disputes, and gives data on:

The SCC Board appointed women twice as often than the parties or the co-arbitrators did. Of all the arbitrators appointed by the Boardthat is, 35 percent of all 1251 appointmentsrepeat appointments. 30 percent were women. The parties, by contrast, who made 62 percent of all 1251 appointments, appointed women only 
14 percent of the time. The survey also shows that women generally are younger and get appointed in smaller value claims than men.

 Even if most of these trends were known to us, it places our industry in a poor light when it comes to these questions and we have placed great emphasis on actively expanding our network. For example, we recently added a feature on our website where arbitrators themselves can register and keep updated their expertise, skills and experience, ensuring that the Secretariat considers the most recent information when researching and proposing candidates.

Information and awareness
The SCC is convinced that information and awareness of the trends will reduce the collective risk of unconscious bias. Therefore, the SCC will continue to release information on diversity, participate in the diversity debate, and provide assistance to parties or counsels seeking to take a more systematic approach to appointments.

 As an institution, we are central to these discussions, even if we only control a minority of the appointments. Therefore, during this spring and forward, we will actively invite and participate in conversations about how we can increase diversity among arbitrators. This is a conversation we need to have with all the actors in this field, especially the parties and counsel, where the vast majority of appointments are made, says Lise Alm.

The first occasion where we will discuss this is the Arbitration Happy Hour on Clubhouse, Thursday 4 the March at 18 CET. You can also read more in this month’s SCC Forecast or join our event with SWAN on March 25th (in Swedish). 

Read the SCC Diversity in Arbitration Report >> 

Read more about the SCC arbitrator appointment policy >> 

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