Young ICCA Webinars: Bridging the Gap, Young Practitioners and Gender Diversity

Date:
6 October 202015:00 - 16:15(CET)

The Cross-Institutional Task Force on Gender Diversity in Arbitral Appointments and Proceedings recently released its Report as the eighth volume of the ICCA Reports Series. Young ICCA and members of the Task Force collaborated to organise a webinar for young practitioners that focuses on some of the more salient aspects of the Report.

Post Event Report

In collaboration with the ICCA Cross-Institutional Task Force on Gender Diversity in Arbitral Appointments and Proceedings (the “Task Force”), Young ICCA held a webinar on the importance of gender diversity for young practitioners, “Bridging the Gap: Young Practitioners and Gender Diversity” (the “Webinar”). The Webinar centred on the more salient aspects of the ICCA Report No. 8 which was released in the Summer of 2020.

 

The Faculty of the Webinar included:

  • Carolyn Lamm, Partner at White & Case LLP, Washington DC, and Chair of the Task Force
  • Jennifer Ivers, Senior Associate at White & Case LLP, Washington DC, and Task Force Member
  • Kai-Uwe Karl, Global Chief Litigation Counsel, GE Renewable Energy
  • Mirèze Philippe, Special Counsel at the ICC, Paris, and Task Force Member
  • Sylvia Noury, Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London, and Task Force Member

 

The Webinar was structured as follows:

  1. Brief Overview of ICCA Report No. 8 of the Cross-Institutional Task Force on Gender Diversity in Arbitral Appointments and Proceedings.
  2. Panel Discussion on (i) why gender diversity matters, (ii) the causes of the lack of diversity, and (iii) opportunities to address gender diversity in arbitral appointments. The faculty also presented relevant data on causes of lack of diversity.
  3. Live Questions.

 

The brief overview was provided by Ms. Lamm. Ms. Lamm stated that the extraordinary thing about the Task Force was that it was able to analyse the various data regarding participation of women in international arbitration. Of particular note was the fact that the participation of women had increased between 1990 and 2019, however, it was concluded that it was not where it should be.

 

The reasons behind promoting gender diversity go beyond the fact that there are women practitioners or enormous talent, but also to ensure the legitimacy of the arbitration process.  This roadmap provides a strategic road map on how to improve gender diversity.

 

Ms. Lamm went on to state that young practitioners may advance their career through membership in arbitration associations & their “young” committees - including Young ICCA – as well as attending conferences and moots. It was suggested that leadership opportunities should be sought out and that it was also worthwhile to invest in relationships with arbitral institutions in addition to identifying mentors.

 

Following the remarks by Ms. Lamm, Ms. Ivers gave a brief overview of the statistical data that forms a key part of the report. The Task Force brought together representatives of many of the leading international arbitration institutions, law firms, and gender diversity initiatives. This resulted in the data being analysed in different ways, including in the trends in appointments by institutions, by co-arbitrators and by parties. Besides many relevant figures, Ms. Ivers noted that in 2019, women comprised only 21.3% of all arbitrator appointments, with arbitral institutions appointing a higher percentage of female arbitrators, as compared to parties or co-arbitrators.

 

Moving on to the panel discussion, Ms. Philippe posited that the short answer for why gender diversity matters is that talent is available in all human beings and nations. Diversity should be part of business plans and must meet clients’ expectations. Diversity in arbitral tribunals brings different points of view to the panel. A lack of diversity is against human rights. As said by Benjamin Franklin “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking”. Therefore, diversity will improve the results of international arbitrations. Ms. Philippe highlighted the change that the ICC Court has gradually put in place seeking gender diversity. She added that men also had an important role in promoting gender diversity.

 

Ms. Noury confirmed that diversity was about not wasting talent, but also a question of fairness, to ensure participation in a field where there are many women practitioners.  Ms. Noury emphasized that there has been a dramatic change in the attitude towards women in international arbitration, to the point where all-female arbitral tribunals are constituted now with some frequency. Notwithstanding this, unconscious bias still exists, and as such, awareness is key to continue this change. Finally, Ms. Noury suggested that young practitioners adopt a “can do attitude” and pointed to the Report on suggestions on how to promote one’s visibility.

 

Mr. Karl added that diversity makes sense and that it was imperative to prevent that the legal market be closed to diverse talent. This is true not only at an in-house counsel level, but also at external counsel level. The expectation is now that counsel teams be diverse, not only in terms of gender, but also in other elements. Also, diversity makes it fun to work and come up with solutions in the relevant teams. Regarding the appointment of arbitrators, Mr. Karl highlighted the need for transparency.

 

The panel concluded that while there is an increase in participation of women in international arbitration, the journey to full gender parity is yet to be completed.

 

Young ICCA Co-Chair Theominique Nottage gave closing remarks, thanking the panel and attendees for their participation.

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