AAJ report indicates arbitration has a diversity problem

by Jeff Sovern

The report is titled Where White Men Rule: How the Secretive System of Forced Arbitration Hurts Women and Minorities. CNBC has a story here. Here's an excerpt from the report:

Arbitrators in consumer and employment cases are mostly male and overwhelmingly white. At AAA and JAMS, the two largest consumer and employment arbitration providers in the country, 88% of arbitrators are white and 77% are male.

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Trust in the civil justice system is enhanced when the public sees that the judges deciding their cases reflect the diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural background of American society. As such, there have been, and continue to be, significant efforts to increase diversity in the federal judiciary. But the arbitration world is far behind even the judiciary. * * *

Federal and state courts face similar issues with regard to diversity but there is one major difference in arbitration. In the courts, whatever the race of the judge, a plaintiff can still face a jury. In arbitration, the arbitrator is judge and jury.

[Disclosure: AAJ gave St. John's University a grant to fund some of my research about half a dozen years ago.]

0 thoughts on “AAJ report indicates arbitration has a diversity problem

  1. Dash Radosti says:

    Great share, Professor. Interesting comment by Professor La Rue, and I will have to explore more of that–but just like having more minority police officers doesn’t necessarily improve police brutality, not sure if having more diverse arbitrators, while a laudable goal, will create fair outcomes for consumers.

  2. Homer C. La Rue, Arbitrator, Mediator, Professor of Law--Howard University School of Law says:

    Please note the following articles that may be of interest to you pertaining to the AAJ Report:
    Homer C. La Rue and Allan A. Symonette, “The Ray Corollary Initiative: How to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion in Arbitrator Selection,” 63-2 HOW. L.J. (Wint. 2020) and
    Homer C. La Rue, “A call–and a blueprint–for change”, 27 DISP. RESOL MAG., ABA Dispute Resolution Section 6 (Jan. 2021).
    The Ray Corollary Initiative™ (“RCI™”) is a major initiative adopted by the National Academy of Arbitrators, CPR, and the American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section. The RCI proposes that all ADR providers and selectors commit to slates or rosters of proposed neutrals for any given matter include at least 30% diverse neutral candidates (defined as Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American Pacific Islander (“AAPI”), other people of color, women, persons with differing sexual orientations and gender identities, and persons living with disabilities), and those providers and selectors drive accountability by tracking selections from those slates and rosters.

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