Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Julie Barrett-Major, consulting attorney at A. A. Thornton & Co., which is one of our Charter signatories.
Julie writes: "Since being asked if I would contribute to this blog, I have been wondering what to write about. Some topics were suggested to me and also perhaps my first blog should introduce myself. But, in the last few of weeks, a number of items hit the press that provoked thoughts; it seems ‘plus ça change’. I have been in the IP profession for a long time, and I was a bit out of the normal mould when I started (some would say I still am!). I was female for a start, not from Oxbridge, not from the usual ‘class’, and I’d managed to mix my Chemistry degree with a non-science subject. Congratulations to the Wellcome Foundation Ltd and Laurence Jenkins, CPA, for giving me an opportunity to have – what I still regard as – an interesting and absorbing career. Along the way, I have been a member of the Council of CIPA and various of its committees, worked in various organisations – both private practice and in-house – and also set up my own business while my children were young.
I have many stories to tell about ‘non-inclusive things’ (which I shall from now on call NITs) that either happened to me or that I came across – some of which I’ll write about in future blog posts. But the recent press reports made me think of one NIT – which is actually a pair of NITs – in particular: a young woman, who was young, single, newly-qualified and worked in private practice, telephoned me in my office and asked what she should do about the facts that: (NIT1) her firm had magazines in their reception area that she felt demeaned women; and (NIT2) she had effectively been told she would never make partner because she was likely to have children ‘fairly soon’.
I must admit my initial reaction may not have been the most helpful. Brought up as an engineer’s daughter and used to venturing into man-filled workshops that all had calendars on the walls depicting scantily-clad women, I was inclined to suggest she get the male equivalent of a ‘Calendar Girls’ item and hang it prominently in the reception area – and see what happened. We also discussed whether her firm’s partners were clairvoyant and, if so, could they save me buying a little blue testing kit, too. That was about 35 years ago. Surely a lot has changed since then?"
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Kingsley Egbuonu, Research Coordinator at Managing Intellectual Property and is about the first IP & ME meetup. Managing IP are one of our Charter signatories.
Kingsley writes: "IP & ME held its first ever face-to-face meeting in London on 22 June. It was the third meeting organised by the IP & ME committee. Some members joined via telephone. We’re so grateful to CIPA and its staff, especially Lea Weir-Samuels, for hosting the meeting and being accommodating at short notice. Thank you very much.
Meeting participants discussed, among other things, how to engage with stakeholders and plans for future activities. We also learned that IP & ME’s subscribers and LinkedIn group membership have grown since we officially announced its launch just over a week ago. After the meeting we went to The Old Bank of England for drinks and a laugh. It was fun!
We intend to have regular meetups in and outside London, and preparations are underway for a major launch event in London this autumn (likely to be in September) so sign up to our mailing list and/or join our Linkedin group for updates. And please invite others as well because this group is open to all.
Please email us if your firm would be interested in hosting any of our events or if you have any enquiries.
About IP & ME
This support group is open to anyone in the IP professions who shares IP Inclusive’s values and statement of intent. The focus is on ethnic minority IP professionals. Everyone is welcome. To learn more about IP & ME and its mission statement see here."
One of the ways IP Inclusive aims to make the IP sector in the UK more diverse and inclusive is by creating support groups for 'minority' groups working in IP. As previously mentioned on this blog, IP Inclusive decided to create these groups in response to feedback from people within the IP sector who felt that such groups would provide them a 'safe' network in which they could share advice and support. Having these networks and connections can help some people feel more included and less isolated in the profession or their workplace.
So far, IP Inclusive has set-up IP Out and the Women in IP groups. We are now pleased to announce that we have set-up IP & ME - a support group which is open to anyone in the IP professions who shares IP Inclusive’s values, but is particularly for ethnic minority IP professionals.
You can find out more about IP & ME on their group page on this site. You can also attend IP & ME's first informal meetup, which is taking place in London on Thursday 22nd June, between 18:30 and 20:30 at The Old Bank of England pub. Come along to the meetup to find out more about the group, meet committee members and other IP professionals, and learn how you can get involved in the group. For more information, see the group page.
If you would like to keep up-to-date with IP & ME's activities, please subscribe to their mailing list. (See the group page for the sign-up form).
In the debate about gender equality, terms like “positive discrimination” and “quotas” get a bad press. Both men and women tend to feel uncomfortable with the concepts. But it’s time we got real about this. We do not yet have equality in the workplace. After years of anti-discrimination laws and equal pay legislation, there is still a significant gender pay gap. Women are still not well represented in the board room. There are still assumptions about female roles, and corresponding biases, that affect people of all genders.
Something needs to be done. And that something requires us to be bold. Fussing about positive discrimination being unethical is for the person who wants to preserve the status quo or the one who’s reluctant to cause trouble. And unfortunately that does appear to be our choice: to stir up trouble, or to make scant progress.
The key questions are: is the status quo really good enough? Will the current pace of change – often painfully slow – suffice? Is it OK for our own children to suffer discrimination, and their children too? For me, no. I think we all deserve better.
Facebook recently announced that they will require women and ethnic minorities to account for at least 33% of the law firm teams they engage. I salute them for that. If you cannot see for yourself that, say, 10% women is inappropriate, then someone must step in and say it for you.
So what are the arguments that make us wary of positive discrimination?
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:
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.
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!
Join us on Thursday 24 November 2016 for the next IP Inclusive reception. The reception will be an opportunity to bring together the EDI officers of all the IP Inclusive Charter signatories, as well as task force members and anyone else from the IP professions who has an interest in our work.
Carpmaels & Ransford are kindly hosting the event in their London office. The event will likely start in the late afternoon/early evening, and will include updates on IP Inclusive projects; a chaired discussion on bringing more BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) professionals into IP; and a chance to share experiences and suggestions. We will finish with refreshments and informal networking.
More details will follow shortly, but for now, please save the date. If you haven't already done so, sign-up to the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, which has a fantastic 76 signatories already!