ICANN has since its incorporation in 1998 made an effort to ensure global diversity at various levels [1] . Diversity within ICANN is important in ensuring a comprehensive  representation of the global Internet community; stakeholders, interest groups and staff and for assuring that ICANN has the right range of perspec ti ve in skill s and experience. .


In Recommendation #12 of the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 1 report, the group assesses diversity based requirements from ICANN governance documents (Bylaws, AOC, ATRT1, ATRT2, documents from each of ICANN’s SOs and ACs).


The following is excerpted directly from the CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 1 report:


Comments received on the Second Draft Proposal revealed that incorporating the diversity component into Accountability and Transparency Reviews may overburden Review Teams. Therefore, the CCWG-Accountability recommends the following actions with the view to further enhancing ICANN’s effectiveness in promoting diversity:

         Including diversity as an important element for the creation of any new structure, such as the Independent Review Process (IRP) – for diversity requirements for the panel – and the ICANN Community Forum.

         Adding Accountability, Transparency, and Diversity reviews of SOs and ACs to structural reviews as part of Work Stream 2.

         Performing, as part of Work Stream 2, a more detailed review to establish a full inventory of the existing mechanisms related to diversity for each and every ICANN group (including Stakeholder Groups, Constituencies, Regional At-Large Organizations, the Fellowship program, and other ICANN outreach programs). After an initial review of the current documents, it became clear that they do not address the full concerns raised by the wider community on the issue of diversity.

         Identifying the possible structures that could follow, promote and support the strengthening of diversity within ICANN.

         Carrying out a detailed working plan on enhancing ICANN diversity as part of Work Stream 2.


Strengthening commitments to outreach and engagement in order to create a more diverse pool of ICANN participants, so that diversity is better reflected in the overall community and thus more naturally reflected in ICANN structures and leadership positions. [2] [3] [4]


This report presents a consolidated view of the current state of diversity within ICANN based on the information presented by various community groups, individuals, staff and board of directors. The report also provides recommendations on how ICANN can improve its diversity mandate.



1. Definition of Diversity:

The working group began by agreeing on the meaning of diversity and identifying elements of diversity they considered important across ICANN as a whole. It was agreed that Diversity within ICANN refers to: ‘ICANN's ability to facilitate and create an inclusive environment in various aspects of stakeholder representation and engagement throughout all levels of the staff, community and board’. [6]


2. The elements of Diversity:

During the discussion, various elements of diversity were identified, which are presented below in no particular order:



2.1 Geographical representation: Ensures that there is a balanced geographical representation throughout the organization. While already applied to the selection of ICANN board members, discussions have indicated that this criterion should be extended to all levels within ICANN.


2.2 Language: All languages should be represented in ICANN for the organization to position itself as a fully global multi-stakeholder entity. There is a need to improve the balance between the seven official languages at ICANN: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and  Spanish. ICANN manages  the IANA functions that offers IDN services to entities who do not use any of the 7 official languages. It is especially important that ICANN improves its communication with this group of stakeholders [7]


2.3 Gender: Gender equality should be sought for at all levels of ICANN . Currently, ICANN’s approach to gender is binary: male or female [8] . It is crtical that in all official community roles, equality between the two designated genders be achieved. It is not longer acceptable that there is a difference of more than 10% in the makeup of any leadership group.


2.3.1 Gender expression : Given the changes in society and society’s new acceptance of variance in gender that goes beyond the binary classifications , T t here is feedback from the subgroup a minority representation to consider and creat ing e a welcoming environment for persons who don't conform to binary gender.   However after lengthy discussion I was agreed to maintain the binary approach [9] . [10] [11] [12] There should also be further work done to find the best way to incorp o rate those with gender variance into the various leadership roles, but this cannot happen until such time as ICANN has accepted the open identification of those who are gender variant and starts to allow them to self identify by checking  ‘other’, or something similar,  in the gender portion of forms.


2.4 Age: Refers to variations that facilitate inclusion of the range of age groups across ICANN, from older generations through to the n N ext G g eneration s . [13] [14] [15]


2.5 Physical Ability: Implies the ability of differently abled persons [16] at various levels to participate within ICANN activities.


2.6 Skills: A variety of skill is important since it is a reflection of the diverse skill set available within the ICANN Community. While acknowledging the importance of diversity in the accountability mechanisms, some members of WS2 have expressed their view that diversity requirement should not prevail over skills or experience requirements, but should be an d equivalent factor. [17] [18] Others have argue d   that skills and experience are elements of diversity. Whether diversity is an essential element of skills and experience or skill and experience are elements of diversity e E nsuring that ICANN is open to diverse participation is essential to fulfilling the range of skills and experience necessary for ICANN. If an original assessment of candidates is not sufficiently diverse to fulfill the skill, experience and diversity requirements necessary, then efforts need to be redoubled until diversity is achieved. .


2.7 Stakeholder group: Diversity of stakeholder group participation in ICANN is important in meeting the multi-stakeholder goals of ICANN. From ensuing discussions [19] this implies Related to, but broader than , stakeholder group diversity is the requirement that all relevant that the views, opinions or perspectives of different stakeholder groups can be presented/shared and taken into account . This may or may not require a designated representative of a stakeholder group to participate in the various activities. However, attention needs to be paid to the selection process [20] to avoid situations where none of the declared stakeholder groups is represented, except those whose interests are heavily lobbied; to ensure that the voices of minorities and underrepresented groups are heard. 

2.8 Viewpoint diversity

Related to, but broader than, stakeholder group diversity is the requirement that all relevant that the views, opinions and perspectives of presented/shared and are taken into account in decision-making. ICANN will not be a truly diverse organisation if it merely conf orms to diversity relating to the fixed characteristics of participants, while systematically marginalising minority viewpoints or beliefs from consideration in decision-making.  


3. Measuring elements of diversity:

Of importance to the working group is [21] the aspect of how the various elements of diversity can be successfully measured. When measuring diversity, it is not sufficient to use a static approach or ‘head-count’ Rather, a more dynamic approach should be considered. There are elements of diversity that are important and difficult to measure by ‘head count’, but important to observe..  For example to determine ‘active diverse participation’ will require a combination of quantitative (statistics) and qualitative (the quality of engagement that is whether they take the floor, make contributions, participate in email exchanges) [22] . From the discussions the following indicators of diversity has been identified, which are based on the definitions provided above:


3.1 Geographical representation: This is currently being applied to the selection of ICANN board members appointed through the NomCom. The data shared by AFNIC and Dalila Rahmouni indicated the need for the statistics to be  based on both a regional analysis and country-by-country analysis. The geographic diversity being considered in two forms: 1. the region one lives in, and 2. the region in which one was born. This data could be collected using the best-practices identified by the NomCom process, adding t he granular approach suggested by AFNIC and Dalila Rahmouni.   [23]


3.2 Language: Statistics on ICANN stakeholders, staff and board ability to communicate in the  7 official languages at ICANN and others need to be reviewed [24] . [25]


3.3 Gender: Currently, women represent only 26% [26] of ICANN community leaders and 53% of ICANN staff. [27] It may be necessary to consider participation at the various levels as well with the option of individuals identifying themselves as male, female or other as may be agreed upon. [28]


3.4 Age: Data on the age range of ICANN participants, staff  and  Community leaders can be collected and documented [29] .


3.5 Physical Ability: Data on the number of requests to ICANN staff to respond to various challenges experienced by participants at various l evels can be gathered [30] .


3.6 Skills: A mechanism of collecting data on the various skills set and their variations as presented by the individuals can be developed.


3.7 Stakeholder group: The measure of the stakeholder group diversity is yet to be clearly defined. With individuals within ICANN representing more than one stakeholder group, a suitable matrix that allows for various combinations of stakeholder groups may need to be identified. There is also the question of gaps within stakeholder groups of entities that are not yet represented.


3.8   [31] Data Collection: [32] Data collection should include the following sources:

  1. Formal positions (such as subgroup rapporteurs in CCWGs and in PDP WGs) under our scrutiny.
  2. Leadership position in SO/AC
  3. Participation in PDP
  4. Working group compositions
  5. Participation in ICANN Meetings


Any data-driven analysis of diversity within ICANN requires a reliable and stable data collection framework. It should be determined whether this collection is based on:

  1. Self-declaration
  2. Research
  3. A combination of both


This also means this research needs to be updated on a bi-annual/annual [33] basis to reflect changes in the organization that include updates in positions, individuals changing roles or companies, etc.  


4. Current state of play

A previous working party on diversity in WS1 had reviewed the status of diversity within ICANN groups. Below you will find some crucial findings from their report:

1. Diversity in operating Procedures and bylaws

An initial review of existing ICANN documentation shows that there are provisions regarding regional diversity for some ICANN groups.


Different references to diversity, but no specific recommendation with regards to Board/SO/AC diversity has been made by the ATRT.


ICANN bylaws state:


Board [34]

“One intent of these diversity provisions is to ensure that at all times each Geographic Region shall have at least one Director, and at all times no region shall have more than five Directors on the Board (not including the President). As used in these Bylaws, each of the following is considered to be a "Geographic Region": Europe; Asia/Australia/Pacific; Latin America/Caribbean islands; Africa; and North America.”


New Bylaws provision:

“(ii) Seeking and supporting broad, informed participation reflecting the functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet at all levels of policy development and decision-making to ensure that the bottom-up, multistakeholder policy development process is used to ascertain the global public interest and that those processes are accountable and transparent;“



“Section 5. DIVERSITY

In carrying out its responsibilities to select members of the ICANN Board (and selections to any other ICANN bodies as the Nominating Committee is responsible for under these Bylaws), the Nominating Committee shall take into account the continuing membership of the ICANN Board (and such other bodies), and seek to ensure that the persons selected to fill vacancies on the ICANN Board (and each such other body) shall, to the extent feasible and consistent with the other criteria required to be applied by Section 4 of this Article , make selections guided by Core Value 4 in Article I, Section 2 .”


ccNSO Council

“The ccNSO Council shall consist of (a) three ccNSO Council members selected by the ccNSO members within each of ICANN's Geographic Regions in the manner described in Section 4(7) through (9) of this Article ;”



“Under the terms of the MoU signed between ICANN and the RIRs in October 2004, the NRO Number Council now performs the role of the Address Supporting Organization Address Council (ASO AC).

The regional policy forum of each RIR selects two members. The Executive Board of each RIR also appoints one person from its respective region.”

“The ASO Address Council shall consist of the members of the NRO Number Council.”


gNSO Council

Regarding the GNSO the “only” diversity dimension is at the level of the Stakeholder Group that selects the council members.



No reference



No reference



No reference



“The ALAC shall consist of (i) two members selected by each of the Regional At-Large Organizations ("RALOs") established according to paragraph 4(g) of this Section , and (ii) five members selected by the Nominating Committee. The five members selected by the Nominating Committee shall include one citizen of a country within each of the five Geographic Regions established according to Section 5 of Article VI .”



No reference




Having reviewed and inventoried the existing mechanisms related to Board/ NomCom/ SO/AC diversity, while some diversity arrangements exist within ICANN documents, diversity does not appear as one of the areas where ICANN continuously strives to improve.



2. Lightening papers on Diversity


At the onset of Work Stream 2 various lightning talks were presented to the CCWG members highlighting the importance of diversity to ICANN. Of the lightning talks presented, two provided statistics from ICANN on diversity that have provided a starting point for discussions on diversity. The highlights of the reports are as follows:




Presented results of a pilot research on the extent of diversity within ICANN. Through the provision of a data collection framework, and a snapshot of ICANN’s current diversity metrics, the pursued goal of the publication was to enable :

           In the short term, a quick and fact-based assessment of the current situation:

           In the medium to long term, provide a clear baseline for tracking progress.

The initial effort  focused on 190 “ICANN community leaders”..


These 190 individuals, had at least one of the following roles within ICANN at the time of collection (April 2016):




        Board Director

        Supporting Organization or Advisory Committee member of the Council or equivalent

         gNSO Constituency Executive Committee or Bureau member

         Nominating Committee member

         CCWG-Accountability members


This analysis had led to the following early findings:


         ICANN community largely remains North American Region centric. Close to 40% of the 190 leaders considered in this study are from the North American Region. This is by far the largest delegation of the “ICANN leaders” population. On the other hand, Africa, Latin America and Asia are under-represented.

         The dominance of native English speakers within ICANN is very strong. Close to two-thirds of the “ICANN Leaders” speak English as their mother tongue. The repartition of languages within ICANN is in stark difference with the global population. It is unclear, of course, whether the fact that English is the working language is an outcome or a cause for this situation.
26% of “ICANN leaders” are women. While this is obviously far from gender balance, it remains difficult to assess whether this ratio is representative of the population of ICANN participants in general. This ratio was not available at the time of writing. It is hard to find a reason for the very limited representation of women within the ICANN Board (4 out of 16) and Nomcom (2 out of 20). It would be useful to assess whether the gap in the Board is related to the gender imbalance in the Nominating Committee.


         Across the population of 190 “ICANN leaders”, the business sector and academic / technical community are most prominently represented. They represent about 80% of the individuals in the study. On the other hand, Civil Society and Government represent only 10% each approximately.


Dalila Rahmouni presented a paper stating the importance of diversity to ICANN and proceeded to define diversity based on the elements of diversity. [37]   She observed that ICANN is not as diverse as it should based on the following statistics from her paper:


      40% of ICANN community leaders come from North America and more than 63% are native English speakers.

      Women represent only 26% of ICANN community leaders. 

      80% of ICANN community leaders come from the technical community and the private 
sector, while civil society and government representatives each account for only 10%. 


She provided various recommendations on how this diversity imbalance can be addressed, and her recommendations have been considered in this report.


3. Information from ICANN staff on Diversity

The WS2 - Diversity also invited various ICANN staff to share their observations and experiences from the data they have collected over time on diversity.DRDP staff were able to provide details on the sources of gender and geographic data across ICANN that was provided as input into WS2 on Diversity. They also outlined some of the challenges and opportunities that could help inform the community’s discussion on next steps. The challenges can be summarised as follows:

  1. Gender:

        Gender is not always self-selected. Best practice would be to have all individuals self-select their gender. 

        Gender selection is often presented as a binary. Best practice would be to include male/female/other fields.

        Gender data compiled from salutations in meeting registration data is self-selected. However, titles, such as Dr. or Professor, are aggregated into the ‘other’ category along with blank or non-selected entries. Best practice would be to offer a gender field in registration forms that provides male/female/other options; this field could either be required or optional.

  1. Region:

        Human Resources uses  3 regional categories and Meetings uses 8 regional categories. Best-practice would be to identify a benchmark (i.e. ICANN regions), so that data collected is consistent across the ICANN community.

        Most ICANN groups collect regional information only, if the regions change, that data would become unhelpful. If raw data were collected instead – such as the country –the data can be reprocessed as necessary to align with any potential changes in ICANN’s regional categories.

[38] Supplemental report

The WS2-Diversity working group is yet to collect feedback from the community on diversity and receive supplementary information on improving diversity.



At the moment this is a place holder to allow group members to begin sharing their ideas of recommendations the WS can consider.


The recommendations that have been presented to date on improving diversity within ICANN are as follows:


  1. Creating an “Office of Diversity and Inclusion” within ICANN [39] ;

In order to move forward, we propose to create, within ICANN, an office for diversity and inclusion (or “observatoire de la diversité”) in charge of:

1) Gathering and analyzing data regarding diversity within ICANN and;

2) Making concrete proposals to enhance effective diversity within ICANN.


This Office would be tasked with the following missions:

        Defining diversity criteria;

        Establishing a diversity audit;


        Collecting the data for each criterion for all leadership positions in ICANN

        c rafting a long-term diversity strategy; [40]

        Publishing an annual report / dashboard on diversity within ICANN;
 This report should be published as an Annex to ICANN ’s Annual report.

        Making concrete proposals to improve diversity within ICANN, to be shared with the community. [41]

        Liaising with external stakeholders to improve diversity in the DNS ecosystem surrounding ICANN to promote new leadership and participation from under-represented regions within ICANN from actors with a real stake on the issue.









GNSO Review - the second independent Review of the GNSO, part of the Organizational Reviews mandated by the ICANN Bylaws, addressed diversity.  Final Report issued by the Independent Examiner -

Section 9.4 of the Final Report deals with Diversity.  Recommendations relating to diversity were #6, 7, 32 - 36.  GNSO has established a GNSO Review Working Group to develop an implementation plan for Board-approved GNSO Review recommendations, in July 2016.  The work of this group can be seen at

For statistics on diversity of past AoC Review Teams, please see AoC and Organizational Review presentation in Dublin at ICANN54 ; slide 8.


ICANN 51 Los Angeles – Showcasing Positive Trends and Business Diversity

Afnic report on ICANN diversity

         Article about the report:

         The report in English:

         The report in French .


On 26 June at ICANN56 in Helsinki, Dalila Rahmouni and Mathieu Weill presented lightning talks to the CCWG-Accountability on this topic. To view the presentations, please see: .


Quarterly Stakeholder Call Presentation includes data on Global Stakeholder Engagement by region - , slide 27


WS1 WP3 Subgroup materials


WS2 – Diversity  Working Group materials

[1] This reads a bit vague. What do we mean by various levels? Do we mean in ICANN the community, the different SO/ACs, the Board, ICANN staff? Or do we mean different levels as in the participants, the board and the paid staff?

[2] Is this a direct quote? In that case make italic or stick in quotation  marks?

[3] Also - I am not sure an executive summary of a document should include a long quote about the report from WS1. Rather, it should focus on the work we have done and the new recommendations we are making.

[4] Could this be moved to an annex instead?

[5] I would strongly recommend changing the order of the document. Start with the executive summary, than give and overview of the current state of play (currently number 4). After having presented the discussion from which to understand the current situation give a description of the issues, measuring the elements of diversity and provide the recommendations. This will give a much better flow to the document. And sure that the readers have all the information they need about the backdrop of this discussion before they start reading how we have been approaching it.

[6] I know I might be a bit late to this discussion, but it seems strange that diversity is defined as ICANNs ability to do something. Rather, diversity should be defined as 'the creation of an inclusive environment in various aspects of stakeholder representation and engagement throughout all levels of staff, community, and board". And the goal for ICANN should be to work towards this.

[7] The original sentence was difficult to read. Do we mean we need to ensure that ICANN can reach out to these entities in their own language? If so, we should just clearly state that.

[8] this confuses the question and pershpas should be broken into two questions.


1. equality for women in all areas of ICANN now!

2. dealing with the evolving issue of gender identification, which is more of a social consideration - we don't have enough self proclaimed others to worry about their equal placement in roles yet. That issue is different and is at a much earlier state of discussion. in terms of diversity both have their place, but they don't quite overlap.

[9] it is far too early to say that a decision has been made on such an important issue. at the very least an investigation should be done to ascertain the current best practices that are being assumed by more enlightened companies in the high tech sector.

[10] Again, I am a late to the conversation. But I would like to see this issue reopened. I don't think we can pretend to be diverse if we do not have the option of accommodating the people who do not identify with falling within the gender binary. This is a very simple thing to fix. In addition to a box saying male/female you add two more boxes: do not wish to disclose, and other (where you would allow people to write how they identify. Gender identity is crucial to diversity, and not including it means missing the ball on making ICANN as inclusive as possible.

[11] Perhaps add: people who do not fit in a binary gender identity should feel obviously welcome to actively participate at ICANN?

[12] It is important  that we allow for the non binary. we live in an age where assuming a binary gender is prejudicial and should not be allowed.   I do not support this decision and am sorry i was not there to argue. there should be consideration of people who are unwilling to commit to an oppressive binary domination of society.  do wee really wnt this to be reviewed as opposing the participation of trans or other gendered people?  is that what ICANN wants to be known as?

[13] Does everyone in our global audience know what is meant by “Millenial” or “next generation”?

[14] so in other words we want to exclude those who are older than Millennial?

[15] When reading this sentence, it feels like we are not interested in the "other" generations, us old ones ;-)

My suggestion would be to reframe into ", including MIllenials and Next Generation"

[16] Why not widen this definition? If we are talking about physical ability there is not reason to single out non-able bodied individuals by saying challenge persons (which I find a bit of an odd term to start with). Instead, how about we say 2.5 Physical ability: The ability of individuals across a range of different physical abilities to participate in ICANN activities at various levels.

[17] This is a key formulation that will enable many to embrace diversity more readily. I am wondering if it should be at the top, before any of the diversity indicators?

[18] I personally believe this formulation is an issue : it implies that there is a mutually exclusive choice to be made between skills on the one side, diversity on the other. I do not share this view. I contend that increased diversity would actually expand the diversity of skills within ICANN.

It would be useful, however to detail exactly what kind of skills we want to look at in terms of skills diversity. Is it legal / technical / market ? Others ?

[19] This is unclear. Which ensuing discussions? The ones had within the diversity group? Or the discussions coming out of WS2 in general?

[20] What is meant by the process of choice here? Do you mean the representative chosen? Or the decision of a representative to not/show up for a meeting?

[21] This section sets out to be about how various elements can successfully be measured. But not all of the different indicators include such a description. Most focus either on how they are being measured now, or on what the current statistics are for the various indicators.

[22] It seems odd to make a recommendation on methods for the quantitative method (statistics) and instead of doing the same for qualitative by for instance identifying the following qualitative methods  (participant observation, surveys, interviews) giving what will essentially be the metrics for measuring the level of active diverse participation through qualitative methods. First we need to identify the method, than we can start discussing the metrics.

[23] What about the region one identifies with culturally? If by some freak accident I was born in Nigeria and now living in Singapore, I would still consider myself European/Dutch and don’t think I should play the African or Asian diversity card ☺

[24] Should this not include another indicator: namely the extent to which translation is available? I think we can all agree most ICANN members will not be fluent in those 7 languages, so considering that fact what options are available for translation? And include those indicators under this issue too?

[25] Ok - but do we have any suggestions on how we want to measure it?

[26] this is a shameful statistic that needs to be remedied as soon as possible.  There are studies that show that when gender equality is hard to acieve, extra effort needs to be made, and positions often need to be left open until a proper balance can be formed.  It seems impossible to me that a diversity group would accept these statistics going forward.

[27] At executive level there are only 29.6% females (CEO report February 2017). Pipelines matter as well.

[28] This sentence seems like it would be more appropriate under the description of issues, as it does not make any suggestions on how to collect data on gender diversity in ICANN. Perhaps it can be substituted with the following: "Currently, gender equality at ICANN is limited: women represent 26% of the ICANN community leaders, at the executive level there are 29.6% women. ICANN staff is comprised of 53% women. There are no statistics available on the overall gender diversity (going beyond the female-male binary) in ICANN."

[29] Great, but how?

[30] idem.

[31] 3.8 is not an indicator of diversity. Perhaps it should just have its own header to avoid confusion.

[32] In the case of the GAC wihch is a large group (160+ countries + observers) item 2 about leadership team may not reflect the full range of countries represented in the GAC. (Leadership team: 1 chair + 5 vicechairs)

[33] I think we can be more specific here. And depending on how this research is done, it doesn't need to be very complicated or burdensome to do this.

[34] The key issue about stakeholder diversity in the board is that governments cannot be part of the Board, only GAC chair is a non voting member

[35] Is this the WG's assessment of the paper? In which case that should be made clear in the text.

[36] Is this the WG's assessment of the paper? In which case that should be made clear in the text.

[37] This sentence reads circular. What elements of diversity did she use? Would be useful to add to this sentence: as based on  the approach to diversity by [name author or method].

[38] Could these also be recommendations for the sections below?

[39] It is important that we come up with functional requirements for issues relating to diversity. However, I don’t think that it is our role to make suggestions as to how ICANN implement such requirements. Proposing the creation of an office is micromanagement of ICANN and something we should refrain from. It should rightly be the role of the Board to decide how to implement the requirements.

[40] I think this is crucial. Thus far this document has been focused on: 1.) the lack of diversity within ICANN, citing prior work done and the research of various individuals. 2.) Discussing how to measure diversity. But what seems to be missing is the third step: how do we make policies that ensure that ICANN becomes more diverse?

[41] This seems like a very "top-down" approach, based on the authority of the office holder rather than bottom-up community-based generation of proposals.


That's not really ideal, is it?