ICAC showcases the highest standard of commitment to gender equality principles among arbitrational institutions globally

ICAC showcases the highest standard of commitment to gender equality principles among arbitrational institutions globally

On 20 September the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (the ICCA) Congress, taking place in Edinburgh, Stotland,  presented the updated 2022 Report of the Cross-Institutional Task Force on Gender Diversity in Arbitral Appointments and Proceedings (the Report).

The Report has been released for the second time in the history of international arbitration, being authored by the The Task Force representing 28 prominent arbitration institutions, law firms, organizations, and diversity initiatives. The International Commercial Arbitration Court of Ukraine (the ICAC) has been the only representative of the Eastern European region in the Task Force.

Gender Diversity in Arbitration: Why It Matters

Gender Equality in arbitration is both a requirement of international law and a benefit for arbitration efficiency. Non discrimination of women is a binding requirement of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) of 1979.  At the same time the 2020 report by McKinsey & Company found a statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance of an organization.  

The Report aims not only at updating the international legal and business community on the progress of arbitration institutions in gender equality, but also at motivating arbitration institutions to adhere to and implement international best practices in gender equality. 

Arbitration institutions continuously increase diversity

In the past 5 years all leading arbitration institutions  increased the proportion of women arbitrators by at least 10%.  The average proportion of women arbitrators in 2021 is  27%. ICAC (Ukraine) has been the unrivaled leader in appointments of women arbitrators with an average proportion of 39% in the past 5 years. 

Unrivaled leadership of the ICAC 

The Report repeatedly quotes the ICAC’s statistics as a reference of “notable” and progressive diversity practice.

The  ICAC reports that in 2020, 42.4% of arbitrators were women, slightly decreasing to 37,9% in 2021.  The growing trend of electing women as presiding arbitrators remains strong : in 2019 women acted as presiding arbitrators in  22,5% of cases, this statistics increased to 27,8% in 2020 and reached record high 35,5% in 2021! 

100% of the ICAC’s Secretariat is women, there are 40% of women in the ICAC Presidium. and 25,4% of women in the ICAC Recommendatory list of arbitrators.

The ICAC adheres to diversity principles in the composition of working groups tasked with government relations and policy shaping in the sphere of international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution development, as well as enhancing the reputation and promotion of international arbitration. For example, half (50%) of the panelists at the ICAC’s Annual Conference- the International Arbitration Readings in memory of academician Igor Pobirchenko –  were women in 2020. All working groups established by the ICAC in 2020-2021 are led by women.

Simple tips to implement best international gender diversity principles 

  • Increase awareness about diversity issues and promote qualified women

Encourage participants in the arbitral process, presiding arbitrators, committees, governing bodies, and conference panels in the field of arbitration to include a fair representation of women. By doing so you would promote the reputation of qualified women in your institution through your stakeholders.

  • Encourage and consider qualified women to join your institution 

Informing qualified women about various opportunities and roles available at your institution, you build up trust and respect to the principles of gender diversity inside your institution. 

  • Establish realistic and precise goals for your institution in the field of gender equality 

Having assessed the current statistics on gender equality in your institution, identify goals, benchmarks,  time periods and action plans to reach those goals

  • Come up with a mentorship program for women

The Report offers some ideas and practical tips on the design and the contents of mentorship programs for women. You might consider expanding the ideas contained in the Report with recommendations of national and international diversity organizations. Implementing a mentorship program for women in your institution is a clear signal that gender equality is a sustainable institutional-level value. 

  • Raise awareness about implicit biases 

Often people do not realize that they might be unconsciously or implicitly biased. Participants of the arbitration process might not be aware of how bias affects the transparency and efficiency of arbitration. Bias awareness raising initiatives will have a material positive impact on arbitration participants and other interested parties.

The Report of the Cross-Institutional Task Force on Gender Diversity in Arbitral Appointments and Proceedings is available at link.



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On 20 September the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (the ICCA) Congress, taking place in Edinburgh, Stotland,  presented the updated ...

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