So, you want to be a straight ally?
First off, do you hate the term “straight ally”? So do I. If you can think of something better, please do. But I think we all know what the term is trying to get at - "I happen to be heterosexual, but I want to be supportive of LGBTQ+ people”. So here is my quick and easy* guide, shamelessly cribbing the format from The Last Leg.
I should start off by pointing out that although I write as a gay man, I can speak only to and from my own experience, which is also heavily influenced by other aspects of my background (white, Christian, public school, Oxford University, that sort of thing). Other people who share my sexuality coming from a different background may have a different take on these issues, although I have tried my best to reflect in this piece what I hear from friends with a different story from mine.
1. Is it ok to ask - why LGBTQ+ ? What is wrong with “gay”?
Here, I am going to let you into a little secret. The different sections of the LGBTQ+ tribe (why I use the word “tribe” is part of the advanced course - you only get to do that when you have passed this basic course) are actually very different indeed. Other than growing up as a minority in a society that rejects what we are, we actually have rather little in common with each other. Let’s go through it (taking the first two in reverse order as it is more logical to explain that way round):
So, I hope you can see that the single word “gay” is just not enough to cover the range of what we are dealing with here. I am writing this as a gay man - others within the tribe will tell you lots of other things that I cannot begin to explain, because I have no more experience of them than anyone else might.
As you may know, IP Inclusive is in the process of setting-up support networks for IP professionals in the UK. So far, we have formed IP Out, a new networking group for LGBT people and “straight allies” working in the Intellectual Property profession, and the Women in IP group. (Further support groups may be created in the future, as and when the demand arises from the IP profession).
The Women in IP group seeks to support women already working within the IP profession in the UK, and to encourage the next generation of female IP practitioners to join the profession and climb through its ranks. The group is open to all IP practitioners in the UK (not just attorneys), of any gender. There is currently a LinkedIn® Group which is being used to disseminate information about Women in IP events, as a forum for discussions and a place to share relevant articles and information among the group members.
The Women in IP group is in the process of setting-up regional networks that will give women a chance to meet other liked-minded women in IP on a regular basis. We hope this will help foster mentoring, as well as encourage women to network more regularly. If you are interested in organising events in your region, please join the LinkedIn® Group.
IP Inclusive is also pleased to announce that the Women in IP launch event is taking place on Wednesday 2nd November 2016, in London. Timings are yet to be finalised, but the event will probably begin about 16:30 or 17:00. After hearing from our eminent panellists about building support networks to develop your career, and hopefully some lively discussions with the audience, there will be time for some drinks and networking of our own.
We hope you can join us, to meet more like-minded people and find out how you can get involved in the IP Inclusive Women in IP group. Check back here for further details about the event (including information about the panellists), soon.
The UK IPO has supported (and been actively involved in) IP Inclusive since the group was formed in early 2015, and is a signatory of the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Like all our Charter signatories, the UK IPO is committed to creating a diverse, equal and inclusive workplace, and we were pleased to learn about the UK IPO's progress so far via an intern's recent blog post.
Sophia, an intern at the IPO, has blogged about her experience and her discovery that workplaces really can be disability-friendly, welcoming, and inclusive. She notes that the IPO offers flexible working and flexitime as part of their inclusivity initiatives, and her positive experience at the IPO has given her the confidence to enter the world of work after she graduates. You can read her blog post and more about the IPO's diversity and inclusion work here.
We would love to hear what the other 70 Charter signatories are doing to improve diversity, equality and inclusion: please email us if you have a story to share!