A major challenge within the labor arbitration profession is the fact that, despite express policies against discrimination on the bases of race, sex, and other innate characteristics of arbitrators, the vast majority of labor arbitrators have been Caucasian men. This has led some labor arbitration parties to ask why the arbitrators do not look like them, with consequent questions about whether the arbitrators really understand them. (See, e.g., Homer C. La Rue, “A Call — and a Blueprint — for Change,” American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Magazine, VOL 27, NO 1, January 2022. See also, Homer C. La Rue and Alan A. Symonette, The Ray Corollary Initiative: How to Achieve Diversity and Inclusion In Arbitrator Selection, 63(2) Howard L.J. 205 (Winter 2020).)
The National Academy of Arbitrators has recognized this dilemma for years, and has not only begun but also increased its efforts to promote opportunities for arbitrators of underrepresented groups to gain access to selecting parties – and, therefore, access to opportunities to arbitrate labor management disputes. One way in which the Academy has done so is through its association with the Ray Corollary Initiative (“RCI”).
Building on established processes embraced by many major law firms (i.e., the “Mansfield Rule,”) and the National Football League (the “Rooney Rule,”) the RCI seeks to boost opportunities for selection of non-White-male labor arbitrators simply by “. . . set[ting] as a goal to include at least 30% diverse neutrals (defined consistently with ABA Resolution 105 as persons who are Black, Hispanic, Latino/a/x, Indigenous, AAPI, other people of color, women, persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities, and persons living with disabilities) as candidates on any list (three or more) from which the neutrals for a given matter are ultimately selected.” Copies of the various iterations of the RCI pledge may be found here.
As does the National Academy of Arbitrators, we in the NAA Southeast Region strongly endorse the RCI approach and encourage all labor and management advocates to consider taking the pledge and to adhere to its guidelines.