Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Andrea Brewster OBE, Leader of IP Inclusive.
Andrea writes: "This week I travel to Bangkok, to be with my daughter who’s having gender reassignment surgery. This is the culmination of years of soul-searching and heartache for her; I’ve done my best to support her but she’s travelling a tough road and I can only wonder at her courage and commitment.
Having a transgender child is an inspiring reminder of a very simple truth about human relationships: that there are many layers to a relationship, but very few of them depend on gender.
Yes, if it’s a sexual relationship you’re after, the other person’s gender may be important to you. And maybe if you like a relationship based on power, you might use gender as one aspect of it – but I’m going to discount that because in my book, that isn’t a valid human relationship.
In most other contexts, the gender label is superfluous. You love someone as you find them, for what they do and what they believe, for the responses they evoke in you. Assigning them to a different gender category won’t change that. You’ll still love them. Even in a sexual relationship, there will be foundations beneath, that have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the human being who simply makes you smile, allows you to speak, helps you face the day with enthusiasm.
It never occurred to me that I should feel differently about my son when he turned out to be my daughter. And I don’t. “Male” and “female” were labels that were entirely inadequate for encapsulating her mind and personality. Neither category could contain the love and respect I felt for her. Neither could define the way we interacted with one another.
And once that thought comes into focus, you realise that all the other labels are superfluous too. In your relationships with friends, family, colleagues or advisers, gender simply shouldn’t come into it – and nor should sexuality, race, religion, physical or mental capabilities, physical appearance, background, age or a whole host of other so-called distinguishing characteristics. Each person is a unique meld, impossible to deconstruct without devaluing the whole. So instead you build a relationship out of trust, respect and shared values. You experience things together. You work together, laugh together, cry together. You support one other. As you are. The whole of you.
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.
This morning, many IP professionals attended the Diversity in IP breakfast in London, which was organised by AIPLA, CITMA, CIPA and FICPI-UK. At the event, there was much talk about the reasons why IP organisations should think seriously about diversity and inclusion - staff happiness, employee retention, job satisfaction, client wins and client retention were just of the motives mentioned by the speakers. (See our Twitter feed for more of the points made during the event).
Once you are convinced that equality, diversity and inclusion are important, you may wonder what you and your firm needs to do next. Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Victoria Barker, Associate at Kilburn & Strode LLP, and is about her and her firm's efforts to improve diversity, and in particular, gender equality, in the workplace. Kilburn & Strode are one of our Charter signatories.
Victoria writes: "The 2013 book by Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In, has undoubtedly been controversial. In the book Sheryl explores factors that may hold some women back in the workplace, mostly by looking at her own experiences. For example, she mentions creating special parking spaces for pregnant women near the front door to her employer’s building when she was faced with a long walk across the car park during her own pregnancy. The book aims to inspire women to take a more active role in developing their career, and encourages men to provide support for women so they can do this. Not all of Sheryl’s comments have been well received, with some critics calling the book little more than a manifesto for privileged white women. Nevertheless, by starting a conversation on gender issues in the workplace, the book has led to the formation of more than 32,000 “Lean In Circles” in 151 countries worldwide.
"Lean In Circles" are groups of like-minded people of both sexes coming together to discuss issues that affect (primarily) women in the workplace. Circles can be big or small, open to new members or closed, physical groups or online-only - whatever suits the members best. Some of the Circles are affiliated with an employer, others with a geographical location, and still others with a specific career path or job title.
In April, Kilburn & Strode joined the Lean In community and held our first Circle meeting.
In the latest extract from the Almost-Completely-Secret Diary of a CIPA President, Andrea Brewster writes a review of Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences by Cordelia Fine.