This year, Mental Health Awareness Week is from 8th to 14th May. Please join one of our IP Inclusive events to explore this important topic and help make things better for the IP professionals of the future.
Under the banner “Surviving or Thriving?”, Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 is looking at mental health from a new angle. Rather than asking why so many people are living with problems, the aim is to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.
The charity co-ordinating this initiative, the Mental Health Foundation, wants to explore the sensitive issue of how people struggle to cope with an increasingly hectic and complex life, and what steps we can take to build resilience and look after our mental health.
At IP Inclusive, we thought these would be excellent themes to address in the context of the IP professions. IP can provide a rich and rewarding career, of course, but it can also be a high pressure environment, with the stress of working to deadlines, budgets and billing targets; business development challenges; and of course the additional pressures that come from working with high-flying colleagues: the threat of competition and the fear of failure.
What can we do in the IP professions to help one another to thrive rather than survive? How can we adapt our working practices to ensure everyone reaches their full potential without needing to suffer anxiety, depression or other mental health problems? How do we increase awareness and understanding of these issues, and stop them being swept under the carpet in the pursuit of perfection?
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 we’re hoping to organise a set of events around the country, focusing on mental well-being for IP professionals. Each will include one or two speakers, a panel discussion with – hopefully – a chance for audience members to ask questions and share experiences if they wish; and some informal networking with refreshments.
These events will be open to all IP professionals. That means not only the fee earners but also the professionals who work with them, for example secretaries, IP administrators and paralegals, HR professionals, searchers, translators and examiners. These are issues which affect the whole team – let’s reach out to everyone and include them in the debate.
Look out for more details about speakers, topics, dates and venues, which will follow shortly.
Meanwhile, you can find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week here and if you’re on Twitter, by following the hashtag #MHAW17.
IP Inclusive Charter signatory Kilburn & Strode have been working on how to make everyone feel valued at work, and improving their employees' mental and physical well-being. Kilburn & Strode's HR director Jonathan Clarke has been persuaded to write a guest post for our blog about this initiative.
Jonathan writes: "To mark the first day of Spring, my team decided to give everyone in the office a bunch of daffodils. A small gesture representing the launch of our larger well-being initiative.
We already advance the well-being of our Kilburn & Strode colleagues in a variety of ways: from discounted gym membership and regular fresh fruit Mondays at work, to regular yoga sessions, mindfulness and in-house massages. All these initiatives have the same motivation - to foster a working environment in which everyone is engaged in the business and can fulfill their potential.
So, to signify launching our formal initiative, we invested in something small and spontaneous. The flowers, like spring, are the start of something new.
We are proud to be launching a comprehensive programme of events that focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of all our colleagues.
We encourage other people in the industry to start, or synchronise, something colourful in their staff programs. We’re happy to have done so today".
Thank you Jonathan for letting us know what Kilburn & Strode are doing to improve mental and physical well-being in the workplace: inspiration to us all! We'd love to know what other Charter signatories are doing to promote mental health in the office - email us if you'd like to feature on our blog.
Last night, IP Inclusive was awarded the inaugural Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the prestigious Managing IP Awards.
The annual event, which took place at The Savoy in central London, saw over 250 IP professionals celebrate successes and achievements within the international IP world. Among the accolades this year was Managing IP’s first ever Corporate Social Responsibility Award, presented to IP Inclusive for its work in uniting professionals throughout the IP world in the pursuit of greater diversity and inclusivity.
Andrea Brewster, Immediate Past President of The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and founder of the IP Inclusive movement, collected the award, commending Managing IP for making corporate social responsibility “one of the benchmarks by which we can both measure and celebrate progress in the IP professions”. Andrea commented: “I am thrilled to accept this year’s award on behalf of everyone who has worked so hard to establish and grow the IP Inclusive community over the last couple of years. IP Inclusive has been a catalyst for change but we have also had incredible support from our founding organisations CIPA, CITMA, FICPI-UK, IP Federation and the UKIPO, and from a huge array of volunteers across the country. We are proud to have launched so many inclusivity initiatives, such as support and networking groups, events, learning resources, careers information and a community of signatories to our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter. My thanks to every single person who has chosen to become involved and thanks to Managing IP for recognising everyone’s efforts. I know that this award will spur us on to still greater things”.
Lesley Evans, Chief Executive of European IP firm, Haseltine Lake and leader of the IP Inclusive Charter initiatives also spoke at the presentation, urging the audience of international IP practitioners to spread the word about IP Inclusive in their own jurisdictions. Lesley commented, “This has been an extraordinary week for IP Inclusive. Not only have we celebrated our 100th signatory to our EDI Charter, but now we have received this amazing and unexpected award, which recognises the importance of increasing diversity across the IP professions. The IP professions are generally very open and welcoming, but they can be stronger and better still if they reach out and make themselves known to the widest possible workplace demographic. IP inclusive is giving us the tools and the impetus to do just that”.
The media today is somewhat swamped by the Trans* conversation, whether that be the discussion of whether or not to prescribe hormone blockers to children or Trans* ‘idols’ such as Caitlyn Jenner, Eddie Izzard or Riley Millington. Sometimes lost in the rhetoric of inclusivity and acceptance (and unfortunately, scandal), however, is actual understanding of what it means to be transgender. People do not tend to wake up one day and decide, “I was born a girl, but I am actually a boy”, or vice versa or otherwise. The mysterious “feeling” can hide itself behind many guises, including confusion over sexuality, social anxiety and a whole host of other issues that can be easier for the mind to contend with. Part of the reason that Trans* issues can be so hard to wrestle with is that the Trans* conversation is sensationalist, it is not mundane. The more mundane that it becomes, hopefully the better our understanding will become.
This article is intended as an explanation of and an introduction to Trans* issues as well as quite likely an important correction of any misconceptions the reader may have gleaned from the populist media. There is much to explain, so let’s start at the beginning.
Often the first question that is ever asked about a new life is: “Is it a boy or a girl?”. Before a child is born we begin to make assumptions that will profoundly affect its life, based entirely on an aesthetic difference detected by a scan. This isn't a decision that is being made by the parents, let alone taking into consideration the feelings of the child. This is purely a visual means of segregation.
In the ideal world, babies are born as humans - nothing more, nothing less. Nursery decorations are chosen, clothes are clothes, not because of what genitalia happen to reside between a child's legs but because of what the parent(s) actually think are practical or nice or sometimes, in the case of a lion onesie, a little fun. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world; children are born into one of two possible genders based on their outward appearance. They are taken home and announced to the world as "A little baby boy/girl"; it is at this juncture where sex has crucially been confused with gender.
And it doesn’t stop there. The first piece of knowledge almost all children have growing up in our society, along with who Mummy and/or Daddy are, is whether they are a boy or a girl. And this isn’t just an arbitrary label, it means things. Like what your favourite colour should be, whether you should be mad about horses, what toys you are allowed to play with, which other children you are allowed to play with, whether or not you should have pierced ears, what clothes you can wear, which changing room you should change in and which sports class you attend. We are segregated from the moment we come out of the womb and taught to be proper boys who grow into proper men, or proper girls who grow into proper women.
Most people accept this as the normal order of things and their prescribed place within it. Other people may not accept it but decide to live with it anyway. A further group of people decide they do not want to live with it and as a result become labelled by society as strange, subversive or in the more extreme cases perverted and morally abhorrent. Yet this need not be the case. Whilst the world at large is likely not prepared to be the ideal world that one could wish for, there are simple ways in which we can educate ourselves so that future generations are not pigeon-holed into two factions without so much as a whisper.
We are excited to announce our next nationwide Women in IP event, which will be taking place on Thursday 23rd March 2017, from 08:30.
The breakfast event is being hosted by a number of IP firms at venues in London, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Bath and Cambridge. Join us for a coffee and a chance to meet other IP professionals before watching our webinar on gender inclusivity. The event is open to all, not just women. If you work in IP or the IP-related professions (e.g. attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries, technology transfer specialists, in-house IP teams, trainee IP attorneys, solicitors, barristers, technical translators, IP journalists, etc.), please join us!
The "How to be a Workplace Ally" webinar will be led by:
If you've signed-up to the Women in IP mailing list, you should have an invitation to the event in your inbox. In any case, if you would like to attend the event, please let us know by completing this form.
The programme for the event is as follows:
First off, I have to say that I have not always used a wheelchair and I am probably not everyone’s idea of a “typical” wheelchair user. I even have to admit that many of the things that I’ve included in this blog post had never even crossed my mind before I succumbed to using a wheelchair myself.
Some background: I am tall (for a woman) at 6ft 1” / 1.85m and therefore was always involved in lots of sports – netball, basketball, football, volleyball. Now this may sound incidental, but it does have a great impact on my experience of being in a wheelchair. First and most obvious, I have always been used to being ‘noticed’ by everyone as I was normally “head and shoulders” above most of my colleagues. This never particularly bothered me, because I was naturally fairly extrovert and gregarious. Now, even in my ‘extra high’ wheelchair (designed specifically to accommodate my long legs) I am at most 4ft high and it really is a completely different world down here! I am much more accessible for children/toddlers to see face-to-face (which has opened up many more opportunities for ‘chats’, smiles etc.), but it’s also meant that I’m far more likely to be overlooked/ignored by other adults and I mean that literally! So yes, for me personally the biggest change has been “emotional” and therefore largely invisible. (I now hope you understand the relevance of the cartoon at the beginning of this post / it’s not just for fun – I AM A PERSON).
Now that’s the emotional baggage out of the way – let’s get on with the practicalities of life in a wheelchair.
The IP Inclusive taskforce held its third annual round-table meeting on 7th February. Following updates from the four working groups on their 2016 achievements, we set our objectives for 2017.
Our key theme for this year will be the business case for diversity and inclusion. We will build this into our training events and outreach activities, so as to raise awareness, spark discussion and improve buy-in from decision makers in the IP professions. If you have any stories or thoughts to share on this, we’d love to hear from you: see for example our recent blog post on the topic.
During 2017 we hope to:
Michael Ford, a trainee patent attorney at Alistair Hindle Associates, is our latest guest blogger and discusses the business case for improving diversity in the IP professions. Alistair Hindle Associates is one of the signatories of the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
"In today’s world of growing intolerance and fear towards difference, we all have a duty to make a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Simply put, our workplaces should reflect the society in which we live and diversity is the reality of that society. But we do not just have a moral obligation to commit to diversity – research confirms that a balanced and diverse workforce makes economic sense. In order to reap the economic benefits, diversity and inclusion should no longer be viewed as the preserve of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, constrained to a committee or a work-stream; these ideals should instead be adopted as integral to a firm’s cultural and moral fibre.
Solid evidence underscores the business case for diversity. A diverse workforce will:
1. Improve innovation and creativity:
Publisher Malcolm Forbes once said that 'diversity is the art of thinking independently together' . The more diverse your workforce, the more you will benefit from the combined experience of people with different approaches and beliefs.
Case in point, a study by the Universities of Texas, Queens, Kentucky and Minnesota found that increased racial diversity in the top management of US corporations led to more competitive business actions, more creative advertising and greater sales incentives . A different study published in the Harvard Business Review also confirmed that, while companies with more diverse leaders tend to outperform competitors, female employees of companies without diverse leadership are 20% less likely than straight, white male employees to win endorsement for their ideas . In addition, the same study found that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are 24% less likely to win endorsement for their ideas, while for LGBT employees the rate of disadvantagement is 21%.
Bringing together a diverse group of employees and taking them seriously should ensure a business will get different points of view and different solutions to overcoming challenges. But it’s not just problem-solving which will benefit. The combined experience of the group will come with innovative and creative ways of working across all aspects of the business.
We at IP Inclusive are always keen to hear about what members of the IP professions are doing to improve diversity, equality and inclusion within the professions. In particular, we're really interested to learn what our Charter signatories are doing to support and promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the IP professions. So, we were pleased to discover that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) held a diversity conference on 25th January at their headquarters in Newport, South Wales. Ben Buchanan, IPO Diversity Champion, discusses the event and the IPO's diversity initiatives.
"Over the last few years, the IPO has reviewed our diversity credentials and designed and delivered a strategy to help us reap the benefits of becoming a truly inclusive working environment. We have sought to better understand the make-up of our workforce so that not only can we cater for everyone’s needs but we can also support the diversity of our customers and stakeholders.
We have done this by working with a number of partners including other government departments, private and third sector organisations, as well as training and developing our people to make the most of their potential.
Our latest initiative was the highly successful ‘Time for Inclusion’ conference run by the Diversity and Inclusion Group – this conference brought diversity to life by using personal stories told by IPO people, which helped us to personalise the message. In one delegate’s words…
"Diversity is often seen as a corporate topic which everyone agrees is important, but is often ill-defined. Asking around to establish what it exactly means in practice usually results in baffled looks of uncertainty. This conference provided a powerful and clear perspective of the importance and potential of Diversity and Inclusion through the honesty and bravery of those taking part.
Following the successful launch of IP Inclusive's Women in IP group last November, the group has been busy organising future networking events, seminars and discussions. Many attendees of the November launch event were keen on there being more regular networking events for women working in the IP professions. So, the Women in IP group have launched informal 'meet up' events, the first of which took place on Monday in Manchester. The 'meet up' events are open to all women working in IP. Paralegals, patent and trade mark administrators, technical translators, technology transfer staff, legal secretaries, members of the IPO, etc. are all very welcome and encouraged to attend. These events are not just for IP attorneys and solicitors, and you do not have to be members of CIPA, ITMA or any other legal institute/body in order to attend.
Sarah Brearley, Associate Patent Attorney at Mewburn Ellis LLP and one of the leaders of the Women in IP group, organised the first event in Manchester.
"As part of our program of events for 2017, the IP Inclusive Women in IP group are organising a series of informal “meet up” events around the country. The idea is simple: at a given time, in a given place, there will be at least one recognisable “Woman in IP” and you are invited to pop along, say hi and to get to know us and each other a little.