Named after Charlotte E. Ray, the first Black woman to be admitted to a bar in the U.S., the Ray Corollary Initiative (RCI), Inc. aims “to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion [DEI] in the selection of arbitrators, mediators, and other ADR neutrals” to 30% diverse and offers a plan to do so.
To this end, three categories of those associated with alternative dispute resolution are asked to sign the RCI pledge to do their parts to increase the number of diverse selected arbitrators and mediators: law firms and others representing parties in disputes, ADR parties and others utilizing ADR, and ADR service providers and rostering agencies.
The Ray Corollary Initiative Pledge for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Providers
ADR service providers are charged with increasing the number of women and racially and ethnically diverse arbitrators, mediators, and other neutrals on the lists that they provide to representatives and parties.
But what else can arbitral organizations do to support the goal of increasing access to justice beyond committing to augment diversity among the decision-makers in the dispute-resolution process?
The AAA® provides a blueprint. ADR service providers can:
- Expand the categories of diversity that are used in generating the lists of arbitrators and mediators to, for example, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation.
- Create internal and external committees that meet on a regular basis to acquire insight into how DEI is being advanced in the legal world.
- Actively recruit highly qualified women and racially and ethnically diverse arbitrators and mediators and provide a forum for them to distinguish themselves, perhaps leading an education program or publishing an article.
- Collaborate with firms and organizations to offer support, sponsorship, and training of underrepresented groups.
The establishment of prestigious programs or scholarships to give diverse participants more of an opportunity to advance furthers the goal.
For example, the A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Fellows Program, begun in 2009 by the American Arbitration Association®, is a selective training, networking, and mentorship curriculum held at AAA New York City headquarters for up-and-coming diverse ADR practitioners. Almost all Fellows who applied have advanced to the AAA Roster, and many were selected to serve on cases. Several Higginbotham Fellows have been elected to the AAA-ICDR Council. The AAA-ICDR Foundation’s Diversity Scholarship Fund offers two types of grant opportunities to support inclusive leadership growth in the field of ADR—up to $2,000 in financial assistance toward ADR degree programs and fellowships or the attendance at important conferences. In addition to these individualized grants, the AAA-ICDR Foundation has established diversity scholarships at Howard University and North Carolina Central University, two historically Black colleges and universities that offer certificates in dispute resolution programs in their law schools.
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