On 1st February, IP Inclusive ran a well-attended workshop on how to manage inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. The event, like all IP Inclusive events, was open to everyone working in the IP professions - the participants included recent entrants to the professions, attorneys, solicitors, partners in law firms, members of the UK IPO, and HR representatives.
A summary of the event has been published by Rose Hughes, Patent Assistant at Reddie & Grose LLP, on the IPKat website.
During the event, participants were asked to work in groups to identify examples of appropriate and inappropriate workplace behaviours. The photos below show some of the results of the task:
If you've registered to attend our workshop on “Managing inappropriate behaviour at work” on 1st February, this message is for you.
In an attempt to reduce paper wastage, we've posted the following handouts for the event below for you to download:
1. An agenda and speaker biographies; and
2. Background information about IP Inclusive.
Please feel free to bring these with you on your phone, tablet or laptop. And since you’ll then have your electronic devices to hand, we’ll be more than happy for you to live tweet during the event, tagging @IPInclusive, @KilburnStrode and/or @focalpointuk if you wish.
We look forward to seeing you there. If you have registered but are now unable to attend the workshop after all, please, please let us know beforehand so that we can offer your place to someone else and also ensure we get the room layout and catering right. You can email us with late cancellations and queries.
And if you won't be joining us on Thursday, keep an eye out for a report on our blog very soon!
Discriminatory behaviour is, unfortunately, not limited to Westminster and Hollywood. It happens in our own profession, often before our very eyes. And it can be difficult to know how to deal with this, whether as victim or observer, when you belong to such an apparently upright and genteel profession as ours.
Ahead of IP Inclusive's workshop on "Managing inappropriate behaviour at work" on 1st February, I thought it would be useful to revisit something our guest blogger Michele Fellows, of Fellows and Associates, wrote for us back in July about the results of her firm's annual salary survey.
For the first time ever, Fellows and Associates' 2017 survey included questions about workplace discrimination. It asked respondents whether they had encountered discrimination, and if so of what type, over the previous two years, whether directed at themselves or at someone else.
The results were sobering: 43% of respondents had experienced some form of discrimination, on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, parental issues, age, mental or physical health, race or place of origin, marital/civil partnership status, or religious or cultural beliefs.
So discriminatory behaviour is alive and kicking, even in the IP professions. Also worrying was that for many forms of discrimination, higher numbers reported discrimination observed against others than reported discrimination experienced themselves. This to me suggests that discrimination may be going on all around us, the victims themselves reluctant to report it, and the observers perhaps doing less to address it than they should. That makes us all culpable.
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 Tim Gooder, an employment lawyer from Gordons LLP, who has recently provided some discrimination awareness training to one of our Charter signatories.
Tim writes: "I have discussed discrimination law with a selection of IP professionals up and down the land and one issue was raised on a few occasions – international clients.
Of course, UK employers are under a duty to ensure fairness in the workplace and prevent discrimination. This task is then made arguably more complicated for employers with international clients for whom different cultural norms and practices may apply, from countries with less stringent laws to prevent discrimination than our own.
This blog article will consider the legal position where clients seek to impose restrictions on employers in terms of which of its employees should or should not undertake work on their behalf.
By way of background, save for in certain prescribed circumstances, employers are prevented from either directly or indirectly discriminating against their employees and this is defined as follows:
So far, so straightforward.
However, the legal waters become murkier when an employer proposes to treat members of its staff less favourably at the behest of a (perhaps valuable) international client. In a situation where a client specifies that an individual or a group of employees with protected characteristics undertake or are prevented from undertaking a particular job, is the employer then liable? Can such prima facie discrimination ever be lawful?
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Fellows and Associates Ltd and is a more in-depth review of an excerpt from their 6th annual Salary Survey that has recently been published. The article focuses on the final part of their report that looks at discrimination within the workplace. Fellows and Associates are one of our Charter signatories.
Michele Fellows writes: “Every year, Fellows and Associates compile a salary survey of the Intellectual Property profession. We continually look to improve on it based on feedback and changes within the market place and this year, in support of IP Inclusive, we were particularly excited to take a closer look at discrimination within the workplace. We know that many firms have signed up to the IP Inclusive initiative and times have changed recently (although never as much as we would like) and as such we asked our respondents to focus solely on their experience within the last two years.
To put this into perspective, 88 of the 206 people who completed the survey had experienced discrimination of some sort. Of these 88 people, 67% had encountered discrimination of more than one type either directed at themselves or at someone else. This issue is definitely not exclusive to the UK, with both the UK and international contributors achieving almost the same ratio of those that had been discriminated against versus those that had not.
Today's blog article has kindly been written by Rhys Williams and is a reflection on his thoughts on diversity and inclusion, from the point of view of a self-“confessed” white, Oxford educated male. Rhys is a partner in Abel & Imray’s Cardiff office, and a member of the firm’s diversity and inclusivity group. Abel & Imray are one of our Charter signatories.
Rhys writes: "I’m a white, Oxford educated, male, so why should I care about diversity? After all, at my firm we employ graduates from both Oxford and Cambridge, so how much more diversity do you need? I suppose we could start looking at Imperial…
My background is fairly liberal, from a family with a mother who did two Open University degrees when we were small, and who fought the coal board in the 1970s for equal coal allowance (and who certainly has short shrift with any sexist behaviour or jokes). I went to a comprehensive school in a middle-class town, and a small, liberal Oxford college known for being an LGB college and taking the most state school students. My paper of choice is the Guardian (though I did throw my Birkenstocks out a few years ago). I sort of assumed that the battle had been won, that no one needed to be marching for equal rights etc. as who would discriminate against someone because they were a woman, gay, lesbian, black, disabled? This is 2017, not 1977.
I listened to experiences of female university friends, many in mainstream professions working for big, multinational companies, with some scepticism that the sexist comments they reported were really made, or whatever was said was misinterpreted by someone looking to be insulted. But these stories began to build up, and I realised that whilst some major battles have been won, there are many forms of discrimination and bias that continue to affect people every day.
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?