Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Wynne Jones IP, which is one of our Charter signatories.
Wynne Jones writes: "Diversity isn’t necessarily the first word that would traditionally be used when discussing the intellectual property industry.
Misconceptions around IP over the years have included that it is male dominated and may lack women in positions of power, and that attorneys are chosen based on the elite educational institutions they have attended.
Of course, a chat with anyone at many firms throughout the UK will quickly dispel these myths.
Over the years specialist groups including IP Inclusive have worked tirelessly to address and improve issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity, which might have previously been associated with the profession.
And while it is clear that great strides have been made in creating a more equal IP landscape, where employees feel respected regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexuality, and cultural differences, there is still some work to be done.
A recent report from Fellows and Associates at an IP Inclusive event revealed that 43% of respondents had experienced some form of discrimination based on personal attributes including gender, age, mental health, race, and sexuality.
And when the patent application landscape in particular is analysed more closely, it is clear gender-based divisions still exist. According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) just 30.5% of the international patent applications filed included at least one women inventor.
Fiona Watkins, diversity and inclusivity officer at leading intellectual property firm Wynne Jones IP, said that while awareness around these issues across the industry has demonstrably improved, she believed more needed to be done to actually embrace and demonstrate greater diversity and inclusivity.
...a round-up of who's doing what & involving whom
With IP Inclusive week coming up, today's guest blogger Andrea Stallan from Focal Point Training and Consultancy Ltd takes a look at some of the initiatives organisations are implementing to create a more diverse workforce and build a culture where everyone is respected and valued.
Read on for some inspiration!
Looking for an IP Inclusive event to go to? Wanting to get more involved and meet others who care about diversity in IP? Here’s an up-to-date events listing.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Caroline Day, Partner and Patent Attorney at Haseltine Lake LLP, which is one of our Charter signatories.
Caroline writes: "Folks, I wanted to pass on some good news, just in case you hadn’t heard: it’s officially OK to use ‘they’ in the singular!
In other words, it is no longer grammatically necessary to pointlessly gender a subject of a contract clause or legal fiction, such as the skilled person or the moron in a hurry. And by ‘no longer necessary’, I should of course say ‘once more unnecessary’, because from the 14th to the late 19th century, nothing could have made more sense - I mean, why force a gender onto something when you had no actual knowledge?
Then in 1890 it was decided that “words importing the masculine gender shall be deemed and taken to include females” in Acts of Parliament, officially anointing the idea that ‘he’ worked fine as a generic. It doesn’t though. When someone says ‘he’, we imagine a man.
IP Inclusive has been around for nearly four years, but we know we haven't yet reached everyone we'd like to. So let's explode some of the myths surrounding what the initiative does and who it's for...
On 6 September 2018 it was announced that Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell would be donating £2.3m from a major science prize she was awarded to a fund to help women, under-represented ethnic minority and refugee students to become physics researchers. She said she wanted to use her prize money to counter the "unconscious bias" that she believes is still a barrier to entry in physics research jobs.
It was a timely announcement. On the same day IP Inclusive broadcast a lunch-time webinar on “Unconscious bias and the IP professional”.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).
We are no strangers to stress in the IP professions, and doubtless to the mental health problems it can fuel. Rarely talked about, inadequately supported, problems such as anxiety and depression can easily lead to tragedy.
Today, then, we call on IP Inclusive supporters to help improve mental well-being in the IP professions, and - in the words of the WSPD organisers - to take a minute to reach out to someone and change the course of another person’s life.
Please read our blog below about the mental health survey we conducted with CIPA this spring. Our report includes practical recommendations for improving mental health in the workplace - for employers and their staff, and indeed for everyone in the IP professions.
You can also download our toolkit for tackling mental health in the workplace, from our resources page, and use it to spark discussion and change in your own organisation. And if you need more information on "mental health first aid", a valuable way of raising awareness and understanding, MHFA England is a good place to start.
Please do something to make a difference.
Monday 10 September 2018 is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). It's a time for all of us to reflect on the devastating loneliness, fear and misery that can lead someone to take their own life, and what we can do to help prevent it.
A good time, therefore, for us to publish the results of our Mental Health Awareness Week survey of the patent profession.
We've already raised the £10,000 we needed to upgrade our website. Many, many thanks to the organisations who've agreed to help - the responses were overwhelmingly prompt and generous.
We'll be pressing ahead with the new site in September, so keep an eye on this blog for progress updates.
Once a year, IP Inclusive seeks funding for its key projects. The rest of the time, we're just happy to hear from anyone who can offer help, hospitality or anything else to keep the initiative thriving...
Our key project for 2018 is an upgrade of the IP Inclusive website. We want to build a new site with a more professional feel, a more navigable structure, improved functionality and easier editing. This will allow us to communicate more efficiently and effectively with both existing and potential stakeholders.
We're seeking offers of sponsorship to help us raise the £10,000 we need. We're looking for donations of between about £500 and £2,000. Unlike with our last major project, we now have our own bank account so can process donations ourselves.
Sponsors will of course be named on the new site, so this is a great PR opportunity. It's also a way of demonstrating your support for IP Inclusive and all the fabulous volunteers who help keep it going.
You can download the formal project proposal below. Let's make it happen! Please email me as soon as possible if you or your organisation can help.
Andrea Brewster OBE
IP Inclusive Leader