Earlier this year, we posted an article about Kilburn & Strode's efforts to improve diversity, and in paticular, gender equality, in the workplace. Specifically, Kilburn & Strode joined the Lean In community in April 2017. Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Victoria Coleman, Technical Assistant at Kilburn & Strode LLP, and is an update on the Lean In activities that have been taking place at her firm. Kilburn & Strode are one of our Charter signatories.
Victoria writes:"At our firm, we are committed to progressing diversity initiatives. Why? Because we want to encourage innovation through diversity of ideas – and to create productive and varied teams of people working together for common cause. One way we can all get involved in our diversity initiatives is our Lean In Circle and we have been very busy over the past few months. Here is an update of what we have been up to.
On 12th January, Darren Smyth from our IP Out Committee will be addressing an LGBTSTEMinar in York.
In a recent tweet, Darren reminded us that "When I was a chemistry student at Oxford University 1988-1996 in my entire time I was only aware of two other out LGBT chemists". He said he is "thrilled and delighted", not only to be attending #LGBTSTEMinar for the second time, but also to be presenting there on the pregabalin litigation.
For the last LGBTSTEMinar, Darren created and displayed a poster about the work of IP Out, and we're fantastically pleased that he'll be doing the same this time. Here's a sneak preview:
The LGBT STEMinar is a one-day research meeting for people who work or study in STEM subjects and identify as LGBT+. Straight allies are also welcome. The event is free and you can find out more here.
Good luck Darren - we'll be thinking of you!
IP Inclusive Leader
On 5 December we co-hosted a webinar with CIPA, CITMA and LawCare, on "Mental Health Matters".
Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive of LawCare, talked about why mental health matters in the IP community and highlighted aspects of the culture and practices of the legal professions that can compromise mental wellbeing. She explained her charity's role in promoting and supporting good mental health, and reminded us that the LawCare helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year, for all IP professionals. She also introduced some simple steps that we can take to protect ourselves and our colleagues from mental health problems, in particular those arising from workplace stress.
At the end of her presentation, Elizabeth addressed questions about the difficult line between mental health support and competency criteria; the issues surrounding "presenteeism"; early signs of mental health problems; and particular challenges for more junior professionals and people suffering exam-related pressures.
If you missed this popular webinar, you can access a FREE recording from here, and download a copy of the presentation slides here:
We are grateful to CIPA for hosting this webinar. And we hope that many in the IP professions will use it as a catalyst for more open and constructive conversations about mental health in the workplace. We need to break down the stigma associated with mental ill-health - and the only way to do that is to talk about it more.
IP Inclusive Leader
Today's blog article has been provided by Tracy Powley and Stella Chandler, of Focal Point Training and Consultancy. They discuss the impact of inappropriate behaviour within workplace teams, and an upcoming IP Inclusive event that will help you get to grips with this thorny topic.
Tracy and Stella write: "Christmas festivities will soon be upon us once more and with an abundance of client entertaining and office parties, it is a prime time for behaviour to slip from the usual standards.
Against the backdrop of the torrent of recent allegations around sexual misconduct, this is an even more pressing issue to consider this year.
Managing inappropriate behaviour at work is one of the areas managers find most difficult to deal with, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
Today's blog article has been provided by three senior trainees at Wynne-Jones IP: Matthew Veale, Grace Mason-Jarrett, and Piotr Mach. Wynne-Jones are one of our Charter signatories.
Matthew, Grace and Piotr write: "There are many misconceptions that surround the intellectual property profession.
Needing a first in your degree, that you must have attended an elite university, such as Cambridge, or that it is simply a boring ‘desk job’, are just some of false beliefs many hold.
Here at Wynne-Jones IP we are challenging these common misconceptions and supporting greater diversity, equality, and inclusivity across our profession.
In this article, we reveal what we falsely believed before entering the profession and what IP inclusivity means to us.
What did you falsely believe before applying to a role within the IP profession?
Matthew: I believed that IP was not sustainably different around the world.
Piotr: I thought it was a boring job dealing with the papers/documents only.
Grace: I didn’t know a great deal about it so hadn’t formed any opinions.
Does the role provide you with more variety than you expected?
Matthew: Yes we cover anything and everything.
Grace: Absolutely, I think when (non-attorney) people think of patents they think of Big Pharma companies but in our practice that’s not the case at all.
Piotr: Yes, it means exposure to a variety of work across different technical fields- which is great!
What common misconceptions do people have with the IP profession?
Matthew: That you need a law degree, you cover all areas of commercial/cooperate law, and generally what IP is?
Grace: From careers fairs it seems a lot of people worry that they have no experience of the profession or understanding of the Law prior to starting, but that’s really not required.
Piotr: People think you need to attend a top university, get a first, and that Brexit will have a big impact on the profession.
Is there a lack of understanding about the IP profession at university/college/school?
Matthew: Yes, there should be a module at least related to IP law in every degree, there should be some exposure to IP in the school curriculum
Grace: I rarely (if ever?) discussed it at university/college/school. It wasn’t something I came across, I think there is a lack of understanding in that it’s not widely known about particularly outside of the engineering degrees. At Southampton University the electrical Engineers had a talk from an Attorney about becoming a patent attorney, but us physics students didn’t get that.
Piotr: Yes – “are we lawyers?” is a question I get asked quite a lot!
And finally, what does being IP inclusive mean to you?
Matthew: For me, it’s thinking independently together
Grace: To me being IP inclusive means listening to everyone‘s perspective in order to obtain the best solution (for the client or for the firm)
Piotr: It definitely means working towards a more accessible and supportive IP profession regardless of background. In particular, knowing that this initiative exists not only helps me to be myself and feel respected, but also raises my openness to others."
If you would like to write a blog article for IP Inclusive, on anything diversity related, please email Emily Teesdale of Abel & Imray. Guest bloggers are always very welcome.
On 8th November 2017, IP Inclusive held a seminar-cum-workshop on unconscious bias, kindly hosted by Mathys & Squire. Inspired by fabulous views from their Shard office, our group discussions yielded some great ideas about when and how unconscious bias can impact on an organisation and what steps can be taken to overcome it.
Thanks to some incredible follow-up work by one of the tutors, the IPO's Deputy Director of HR and Organisational Development Dominic Houlihan, we've turned those ideas into a "toolkit" for organisations to use in tackling unconscious bias. This is free for all members of the IP Inclusive community to download and use - and we hope it will prove useful in starting conversations, raising awareness and ultimately, in turning the IP profession into a more diverse and inclusive place.