ASA – the Swiss Arbitration Association, is releasing today a new version of its ASA Profiles tool which allows anyone to search for an arbitrator, counsel or expert with the right combination of skills and experience according to a number of pre-defined criteria, including specific industry experience, legal background, nationality and age. With this release, ASA has decided to include gender as an additional search category.
Last year, ASA signed the Pledge for Equal Representation in Arbitration, aimed at addressing under-representation of women on arbitral tribunals. “We felt strongly about translating our support for the Pledge into a concrete action that could address the underlying issue” explains ASA Executive Director Alex McLin. “By including a gender search field in our arbitrator selection tool, we allow practitioners consciously to address any subconscious selection bias that may be present.”
Indeed, "studies show that habits of mind tend to lead us to appoint similar individuals, but that once we become aware of this, we are able to find equally-suited individuals from more diverse backgrounds and contribute to gender diversity on arbitral panels” continues Domitille Baizeau, a member of the ASA Executive Committee and on the Pledge’s Steering Committee. ASA understands that some may consider including a gender search criterion as discriminatory, but ASA President Elliott Geisinger believes rather that “the ability to search by gender contributes to awareness of the desirability of diversity on arbitral tribunals, and positively informs the selection process."
The new ASA Profiles tool and app for mobile devices (iOS and Android) reflect ASA’s ongoing efforts at using information technology to enhance the arbitration process, beginning with the selection of counsel, arbitrators and experts.