In one sense “Diversity” is “Difference”. That is to say – gender, ethnicity, age, disability and sexual orientation. We are an assortment, a range, a medley, a mix. That is a given. But take it to the next stage and we have different cultures, different religions, different languages and different norms of behaviour. We express ourselves distinctively and carry the norms of the country in which we have grown up.
So, there is much to bridge as we come together to make arbitration decisions on right and wrong. The solution is not to put us in a straightjacket and act like robots – we are selected so that we represent the markets in which we operate. Our Boards of Appeal are intended to be a mirror image of the different people that operate in the trade. So, we need to understand each other to enable us to work together.
Some people like to clarify a difference. Others prefer to find common ground. Some cultures thrive on peace and reconciliation. Others prefer argument even confrontation. We are not talking about right and wrong – that is determined by the law that we have to apply. No, we are focusing on norms of behaviour that arise from the societies in which we have lived and grown up and how they affect arbitration.
We are not anthropologists. We are arbitrators. We are drawn from an ever-extending constituency and we reflect the growth of international trade and business. We, therefore, need to understand the norms of commercial behaviour of the countries from which we, the arbitrators, are selected. It is much more than merely understanding Contract Law and the Arbitration Act.
Episode 4. 4 August 2021