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.