29 October 2021

CEO update | October 2021 | Diversity and inclusion in focus




Dear members,

I’m pleased to share with you that the board has recently approved Resolution Institute’s first Diversity and Inclusion Plan that was developed to support our strategic goal included in ‘Our Strategy’, of Acting as champions for diversity and inclusion in our membership and the dispute resolution community more broadly. The plan has been developed in partnership with the newly established Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee that is chaired by me and consists of 14 committed and passionate members. The initial focus of the committee was to review the diversity profile of Resolution Institute and to support the staff and I in preparing Resolution Institute’s first Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Plan — in doing so the committee needed to consider the resources available to us and to ensure that the focus initiatives contained in the plan are in areas where we have the capabilities and reach to achieve our objectives and make a visible and meaningful impact.

Resolution Institute has always respected and valued diversity in our membership, yet it has been clear for some time that there is great opportunity to proactively promote and address areas where diversity is lacking across the membership and the various dispute resolution specialities that our members practise in.

As an organisation, we want to ensure there is equality of access to the services we provide and that we are responsive to the needs of those we provide our services to, better reflecting the diverse population in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is directly aligned to our value of Diversity; we treat people with respect and celebrate diverse perspectives.

The overall commitment by Resolution Institute to an inclusive and diverse community applies to all diversity groups. However, as stated above, to enable us to make some real, sustainable and meaningful change with the resources we have available, our first Diversity and Inclusion Plan focuses on the following key diversity areas:

  • Priority 1: Increasing representation of women in commercial dispute resolution.
  • Priority 2: Increasing the cultural diversity and competence of our organisation, our members and the dispute resolution community.

Nonetheless, the initiatives and actions set out in this plan also focus on fostering an inclusive practice generally for all Resolution Institute members and the dispute resolution community. These broad initiatives are detailed in Priority 3: Building diversity and driving an inclusive culture.

Why this is important to us?
There is a strong and growing business case for diversity and inclusion. Diversity within an organisation and a profession has many benefits including increased innovation, improved understanding of, and support to the community that Resolution Institute and our members serve.

Increased diversity and inclusion will enable us to draw on a broader range of experiences, skills and perspectives in our members, volunteers, staff, partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries. The insights and opportunities that follow will assist us in achieving our vision and strategic goals by addressing barriers that currently exist, thus ‘enabling meaningful access to justice and dispute resolution, effectively resolving conflict in any situation’.

This creates value for Resolution Institute in being able to attract and retain a diverse membership, resourced, skilled and certified to respond to the moving landscape of issues and trends in all areas of dispute resolution.

Thank you to members of the DEI Committee for assisting with the development of this plan including Adwoa Abban, Joana d'Orey Novo, Lorraine Guthrie, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Cameron McPhedran, Donna Ross, Michelle Royal-Hebblewhite, Kym Roylance, Sharin Ruba Khosa, Paul Sills, Ed Skinner, Evatt Styles, Cynthia Taurayi and Cecily Zhu.

So what happens now?
During the process of developing the plan, we were both enlightened and challenged by the data and information we have at hand. We are committed to an evidence-based way of approaching diversity and inclusion utilising the best practice model (*) developed by the Diversity Council of Australia and when looking at our demographics, it was clear that there were some key areas that should be initial priorities and have shaped the current plan. In addition to this, it was clear that there were areas where we just don’t have data available to us and we need to fill these gaps.

You will have seen the recent announcement about the inaugural The Hon Margaret Beazley AC QC Expert Determination Scholarship, designed to increase female participation in expert determination. The inaugural scholarship for 2021 has now been awarded to Victoria-based dispute resolution practitioner and Resolution Institute member Alicia Hill. More information can be found on our website and in the media.

Other things which are already underway include celebrating and recognising cultural diversity through communications and events, and the sponsorship of relevant events that align to our purpose and strategy. In addition to the recently formed DEI committee, in Aotearoa New Zealand we have established the Te Kāhui Māori (Māori Caucus) which is the representative group for Māori members which advises the Board and staff of Resolution Institute on how we can best reflect and respond to our bi-cultural context in Aotearoa New Zealand and our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and the Pasifika Network which is committed to improving the visibility, accessibility, appropriateness, and cultural relevance of mediation for Pasifika peoples. We have also importantly included diversity in the Resolution Institute nominations policy to ensure that we are focused on increasing the diversity of dispute resolvers that we nominate for arbitration, expert determination and mediation and this actively shapes our decision making.

In the coming months you will be asked to participate in a diversity survey which will be anonymous and optional for all members. With a better appreciation of our member demographics, we will be better placed to implement targeted events and DEI initiatives to our specific needs and lead the way, building our reputation as the leading dispute resolution body in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. More information will be available soon about the survey.

Election — Resolution Institute Board of Directors
Finally, I hope you have now received emails from GoVote with instructions on how to vote in the current board election. In line with my previous emails, I encourage you to take the time to vote in this election. If you haven’t received the relevant emails, please contact us via for assistance.  Voting closes on Friday 12 November 2021 and the results will be announced at the upcoming AGM to be held virtually on Tuesday 23 November 2021; I hope to ‘see’ you there.

Until then, take care,

*Diversity Council Australia (Russell, G., O’Leary, J. and Rozsnyoi, J.) Change At Work: Designing Diversity and Inclusion Differently to Achieve Organisational Change, Diversity Council Australia, 2019.