At the Association of Black Arbitration Professionals (ABAP), we are committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of arbitration. We recognize the value of collaborative efforts and celebrate the work of other organizations and initiatives that share our mission. In this blog post, we highlight four key programs that aim to promote racial equality and diversity in arbitration: Racial Equality for Arbitration Lawyers (REAL), USCIB Diversity Task Force, Ray Corollary Initiative, and the Higginbotham Fellows Program by the American Bar Association (ABA).
1. Racial Equality for Arbitration Lawyers (REAL): REAL is an initiative focused on increasing racial diversity and promoting racial equality within the international arbitration community. REAL aims to create a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas and experiences to advance the cause of racial equality. By raising awareness, facilitating mentorship, and offering educational resources, REAL strives to break down barriers and create a more inclusive arbitration landscape.
In recent years, the organization has hosted events on the importance of diversity equity and inclusion, provides mentoring, circulates a newsletter for notable events and news throughout the space and also distributes scholarships to support attendance of conferences and programs for diverse applicants. More information is available at the REAL Website or via their social media.
REAL Website: https://letsgetrealarbitration.org/
2. USCIB Diversity and Inclusion Task Force: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) has established a Diversity Task Force to address diversity and inclusion in international arbitration. The task force works to develop and promote best practices and guidelines that encourage diversity in arbitrator appointments and within arbitral institutions. Through collaboration with other organizations and thought leaders, the USCIB Diversity Task Force seeks to create an environment in which diverse professionals can thrive in the field of international arbitration.
Recently USCIB has hosted two successful law school outreach events—one in California in collaboration with the American Bar Association in January 2023, and another in New York which was hosted by Arnold and Porter. Both events were well attended and featured an interactive town-hall discussion with students and young lawyers about their opportunities in international arbitration with the goal to reaching out to diverse potential entrants.
The group also maintains a steering committee which plans and develops its initiatives.
USCIB D&I Task Force: https://uscib.org/diversity-and-inclusion-projects/
3. Ray Corollary Initiative (RCI): Named in honor of the late Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, the Ray Corollary Initiative aims to increase the number of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in international dispute resolution. The initiative offers training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to diverse professionals seeking to enter or advance in the field. By providing resources and support, the Ray Corollary Initiative seeks to foster a more diverse and inclusive international dispute resolution community.
The RCI is active in the arbitration community and offers resources for those interested in diversity in the field, as well as a pledge for individuals and institutions to commit to fostering diversity.
The program recently was featured during an event for the College of Commercial Arbitrators (CCA), which brought together several in-house counsel discuss specific strategies and plans to increase diversity in arbitration with tangible metrics and timeframes. The conversation was moderated by retired Judge Scheindlin and featured a Key-note speech by RCI Board Chair, Prof. Homer LaRue.
Ray Corollary Initiative: https://www.raycorollaryinitiative.org/announcements
4. Higginbotham Fellows Program (ABA): The ABA’s Higginbotham Fellows Program is designed to provide professional development opportunities for mid-level and senior minority attorneys in the public and private sectors. The program, named in honor of the late Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., offers participants an intensive week-long series of workshops, panel discussions, and networking events focused on dispute resolution and other legal topics. The Higginbotham Fellows Program aims to enhance participants’ skills and foster connections that will benefit their careers and the broader legal profession.
These programs, alongside the efforts of ABAP, are working collectively to create a more inclusive and diverse arbitration community. By supporting and promoting these initiatives, we can help drive positive change and ensure that the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are upheld in the pursuit of justice.
For more information about ABAP, our programs, and how you can get involved, please visit our website and follow us on social media. Together, we can shape the future of arbitration and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive field.