Diversity and inclusion as the engine of progress
Maria Belén Espiñeira
IT&L Legal Consultants, Buenos Aires
As social movements across the world promote global conversations around equality, the focus and the opportunity rest on the public and private sectors to reflect the values society cares about most. Clearly, this generation of workforce is demanding a more genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion, one which represents the full spectrum of the population and the various social movements taking place in the communities they serve.
In February 2019, the IBA has created the Diversity and Inclusion Council, as part of an ongoing dialogue about equality. The aim of this Council is to promote diversity and inclusion across the Association, not only because of the benefits of having a multicultural IBA staff, but also within its Committees, and to promote access to justice worldwide.
Within this scope, the Maritime and Transport Law Committee has appointed me as Diversity and Inclusion Officer. My role is to be responsible for promoting good practices to achieve this goal, acting in liaison between Committee members, the Committee and the IBA. My role also demands fostering the lessening of unconscious bias through diversity and inclusion, reflection and engaging in discussions and attempting to find opportunities for putting the IBA Diversity and Inclusion Policy into practice. The Policy can be found on the IBA website.
Diversity of a Committee refers to the continued presence and engagement in the Committee of a wide range of people, differing in gender, ethnicity, age, or other characteristics.
Inclusion, on the other hand, means a process that is implemented to integrate everyone, so that they can coexist in a mutually beneficial way. The goal of inclusion strategies is to enable everyone to feel confident and comfortable in sharing their views and ideas, and thereby contribute to the group or organisation. That is why the IBA requests all Committees to ensure that they are both diverse and inclusive.
The Maritime and Transport Law Committee has responded by being committed to undergoing this transformation and ensuring that all members enjoy the benefits of belonging to the Association.
Although it is common to hear that nobody intentionally discriminates against others, one must appreciate that there may be unconscious bias which may influence behaviour and could preclude dynamic progress towards inclusion. We all may be influenced by unconscious bias, and it is important to know the bias inside ourselves and learn practical ways of coping with it.
In this regard, to promote good practices and a deep inside analysis of our behaviours, within our Committee, we have created a Diversity and Inclusion Statement. The Statement records the strong commitment of our Committee officers to contributing to the transformation led by the IBA towards the inclusion of all and the elimination of discrimination on any basis, including gender, age, culture, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, socioeconomic standing, gender identity or sexual orientation.
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