David A. Hoffman is a lawyer, mediator and arbitrator with Boston Law Collaborative, LLC. A past chair of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution, he teaches mediation at Harvard Law School. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Lamont E. Stallworth is a professor at the Institute of Human Resources and Employment Relations at Loyola University in Chicago, and Chairman of the Center for Employment Dispute Resolution. He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both conscious and unconscious forms of racial and ethnic bias in our society have, not surprisingly, resulted in the underutilization of minority neutrals in union and non-union workplace disputes. The objectives of the alternative dispute resolution movement will be better served if there is greater equality in the selection and utilization of minority workplace neutrals. The authors contend that a program is needed to increase diversity in this area and that this program should have three components: (a) creating national and regional panels of minority neutrals to increase their visibility, availability and acceptability; (b) educating users of ADR services about conscious and unconscious biases in neutral selection processes; and (c) developing a system of accountability to encourage ADR users to select minority neutrals for workplace disputes.
When one considers the extent to which the appalling legacy of racial and ethnic bigotry in the United States has infected the legal system of this country since its founding, it is hardly surprising that this legacy has negatively affected the extent to which racial and ethnic minorities are being used as mediators, arbitrators and fact-finders. We are focusing primarily on the underutilization of minority neutrals in the area of labor and employment disputes, but this problem also exists in other areas of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practice. The unfairness of this situation is obvious.