At last week's IP Inclusive party to mark a year of the Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, many of the participants and audience members noted that one way to improve diversity within the IP professions is by raising awareness of the professions among the public.
Under a separate banner, Careers in Ideas, we are creating resources to raise awareness of IP-related careers and encourage recruits from a greater range of backgrounds. The resources will be targeted at school, college and university students, as well as their teachers and careers advisers. The resources we've created so far include a poster and a booklet on IP-related careers, which you can download for free below. If you are attending a careers fair, or if you plan to do some outreach into schools, universities, clubs, etc. please print copies of our poster and booklet and take them with you to hand out.
We have also prepared a presentation for teachers to incorporate into their lessons in order to introduce their pupils to the careers in ideas. We are in the process of building a dedicated website through which potential recruits and their advisers can access information and support. For example, we plan on providing helpful tips on when and how to apply for jobs within IP, how to prepare for interviews, and how to write a good cover letter and CV. Through the new website, we may be able to connect potential applicants with people within the profession who can answer specific questions about careers, interviews, training, day-to-day work, the support networks within the professions, etc.
At the moment, we need your help to help us raise awareness of the IP professions by distributing our resources to the public (e.g. to schools, universities, libraries, careers services, etc.). If you are interested in helping us, please email Chris Burnett who is coordinating the distribution task and let him know:
We look forward to hearing from you!
If you have any questions about the resources themselves or the forthcoming website, please email Parminder Lally, who is leading the "raising awareness" group within IP Inclusive.
Yesterday's discussion on ethnic diversity in the IP professions (amusingly titled "The Unbearable Whiteness of IP") raised many interesting points about why IP law may not be attracting and/or retaining BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) talent, and what we can do to change this. (The reason why we need to change this is simple: diversity drives innovation).
Keynote speaker Maria Petnga-Wallace explained that studies show BAME employee attrition rates in the legal sector are high. This suggests that organisations in the legal sector may lose BAME talent because the workplace is perhaps not as inclusive and welcoming as it could be, and/or because there are no BAME role models (e.g. employees in senior roles or at management/board level). On the plus side, one in four children in school in the UK are from BAME backgrounds, so there is a huge pool of talent available for the IP professions to select from.
A quick survey of the audience suggested very few IP organisations monitor the ethnic background of job applicants. Maria explained that it is important for IP organisations to monitor the ethnic background of (a) job applicants, (b) applicants who are short-listed for interview, and (c) applicants who are hired, because this provides useful information for an organisation to determine where in their hiring process they may lose BAME talent as a result of unconscious bias. For instance, if an organisation notices that the percentage of BAME applicants for a job is low, perhaps the image portrayed by the organisation unconsciously discourages people from BAME backgrounds from applying? Similarly, if an organisation notices that the percentage of BAME applicants who are hired is considerably lower than the number of BAME applicants, perhaps the interview process needs to be analysed. One panellist agreed and noted that simply moving away from interviews conducted by two white men to interviews conducted by a diverse panel radically improved the diversity of new hires.
Lesley Evans, Chief Executive at Haseltine Lake LLP, provides a brief report on last night's IP Inclusive event in London.
"At an event on November 24th to mark the first anniversary of the launch of the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, an audience of interested practitioners from many different parts of the IP professions came together to listen to a panel discussion on a topic that is perhaps overdue for public debate and consideration within the IP world.
The event was generously hosted by Charter signatory Carpmaels & Ransford, and partner David Wilson welcomed attendees and set the scene for an open and positive exchange.
Last week's IP Out event, hosted by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Kilburn & Strode, was a great success! The event was over-subscribed and the networking carried on long after the advertised end-time.
Two of the key messages of the discussion were that you should not have to change who you are to make others feel comfortable, and that it is important to be 'visible' in the workplace. You can read more about the importance of being visible in the report prepared by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Managing IP, which can be found here.
The next IP Out social event will be on Thursday 23rd February 2017. Look out for more details here or on the IP Out page.
Last week, we held our first Women in IP event, which was attended by scores of women (and a few men!). The event featured an interactive panel discussion on “The power of networking and mentoring in developing your career”, followed by a chance to put newly-acquired tips on networking into practice. Some people attended the panel discussion only, some came to the networking session, while others enjoyed the whole event.
Cathy Mack, Practice Manager at TLIP Ltd, writes about the event and some of the interesting points raised during the panel discussion.
"Under the umbrella of the IP Inclusive initiative, the first Women in IP event was held on 2nd November 2016, hosted by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Norton Rose Fulbright. Feeling a bit daunted on arrival at the rapidly filling room confirmed that one of the topics of the event - networking - was going to be a very useful one.
After introductions, the event began with Andrea Brewster outlining the aims of IP Inclusive, and explaining how the Women in IP committee aims to facilitate the building of a network of women across the IP professions that will enable challenges to be recognised, shared and overcome. I haven’t attended many of these events, but it felt welcoming from the outset as Andrea explained in her introduction that it was open to all members of the IP profession including patent and trade mark attorneys, solicitors, barristers, trainees, administrators, UK IPO staff and searchers. In fact, as Andrea pointed out, just seeing the number of women together in one room gave a sense that “prevalence is confidence”.
This article comes in three parts. First, in case you’ve no idea what I am on about, a short summary section of Autistic Spectrum Disorders with some useful definitions. Second, if you’ll allow me, a section of self-indulgence in which I will attempt to explain to you my own relationship with my Asperger’s Syndrome in the hope that this personal experience will put this article into context. Last but not least, I shall end with an important summary of what can be done in the workplace to help people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders do their jobs whilst benefitting from the same respect, tolerance and understanding as their neuro-typical colleagues.
So, some definitions:
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the umbrella category for a group of conditions which very broadly include the symptoms of difficulties with social interaction and communication, repetitive behaviours, restricted interests and sensory issues.
Autism is the most common and well-known of the above conditions and is often used as an umbrella term itself, including synonymously with ASD.
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) was, at the time I was diagnosed, classified as a separate condition to autism. Since then, however, it has been redefined as one of the conditions covered by the umbrella term of ASD. Some people also use AS synonymously with high-functioning autism. Others, myself included, find the latter term unhelpful and offensive to those not classed as “high-functioning” and would prefer it if it were not used.
Aspie is a word which some people with Asperger’s Syndrome, including myself, have reclaimed for themselves. It is wise not to use this term for other people unless they have explicitly said that it is ok to do so.
In the following paragraphs I shall try to use the above terms as consistently and coherently as possible. If, however, I slip up and am less than clear please do accept my apologies. You will hopefully be able to work out what I meant to say.
As previously mentioned here, the IP Inclusive reception is taking place in a few weeks. Please join us to celebrate the first successful year of the IP Inclusive Charter which currently has over 80 signatories!
The event takes place on Thursday 24 November 2016, 16:00 to 17:45, at Carpmaels & Ransford's London office (One Southampton Row, London, WC1B 5HA).
This is a chance to bring together our Charter signatories, along with anyone else from the IP professions who has an interest in our work. It will include:
Find out what we’ve been up to over the last year and how you can join in the fun, helping to make a massive difference to the profession you’re in.
Anyone who works in IP, or with IP professionals, is welcome. The event is free, but numbers are limited so please book your place early by emailing us your name and organisation.
We look forward to seeing you there!