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.
The European Patent Office (EPO) recently launched a public consultation on its draft new Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal. The proposed rules lack gender neutrality, not only by referring throughout to the Board "Chairman", but also by using the pronouns "he", "him" and "his" when referring to tribunal members.
At IP Inclusive, we are concerned that this type of language, especially when used in official and legal texts, reinforces gender stereotypes and fuels the unconscious biases that hinder creation of a diverse and inclusive community. We have therefore responded to the consultation and requested that the EPO remove gender-specific terminology before finalising the new rules.
You can download a copy of our submissions here:
If you have any questions or comments on this matter, please feel free to post your question/comment on this blog.
IP Inclusive Leader
On Wednesday 14th March, our IP Out group are holding an event on "The Gender Spectrum: what should firms be doing and why?". The event aims to further the understanding within the whole of the IP community of Trans* persons’ professional experiences. This will be a round-table discussion touching on, among other things, how best to create an inclusive environment where Trans* persons feel comfortable being their true selves at work, and managing client relations as well as other professionals during transitional periods.
As always, this event is open to everyone working in the IP professions. Straight allies are welcomed, and indeed encouraged, to attend. We hope that the event will be very useful for firms looking to implement or update their equality, diversity and inclusion policies, as well as prompting firms to take a more proactive approach in this area. We would particularly like to see organisations' Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer or Representatives at the event. (Every firm that has signed the IP Inclusive Charter has nominated someone within the firm as their EDI Officer.)
We are pleased to have Rachel Reese from Global Butterflies and Luke Williams from BPP University Law School joining as lead contributors to the discussion. Rachel and Luke bring personal insight and a depth of experience helping law firms become more inclusive. Please bring your own questions and thoughts, or just come along to listen and learn.
The event is kindly being hosted by Bird & Bird LLP in their London office (12 New Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1JP). Bird & Bird are one of the IP Inclusive Charter signatories. The event starts at 17:30, with the discussion to begin at 18:15, and drinks and networking to follow. Further information about the event can be found on the registration page here.
We look forward to seeing you on 14th March!
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Phillipa Holland, Principal Consultant at Fellows and Associates, and is about whether disclosing salary information during recruitment impacts diversity. Fellows and Associates is one of our Charter signatories.
Phillipa writes: "Would it help equality in the workplace if previous salary information was not discussed during the recruitment process?
The traditional and most common way of determining salary for an individual applying for a role in the UK is to have a budget, then find out what an applicant is earning, then ideally pay them a bit more (or at least the same) as what their income was previously. But is this fair? Is this sensible?
Well it can be a delicate subject for some. Discussing the details of your salary with a somewhat stranger on the understanding it will help secure your position and determine what you will earn in the future can be difficult. In some cases, being open about what you earn can aid negotiation (if, for example you earn more than the suggested budget it provides useful evidence of your market worth beyond the future employer’s current understanding of market conditions). But should this be so? Does it actually benefit the candidate, or the employer, in the long run?
There is a body of opinion that revealing candidate salary history has helped reinforce the gender pay gap. If the strategy is to set a budget and then within that budget pay candidates more than their current salary, then the strategy perpetuates the gender pay gap as men are, research indicates, typically paid more than women. (Thus, the same percentage increase on salary would mean that a woman would continue to be paid less for the same role). Statistically speaking, women tend to negotiate less and, when they do, it can be viewed negatively by employers. If organisations are not given access to salary information then the issues surrounding negotiation are significantly reduced, helping positively reinforce a woman’s earning power. There is a potential positive impact with respect to ethnic minorities as well; whilst the research in terms of pay disparity is more complicated (it’s a question of both availability of equitable opportunities as well as equal pay for equal roles), disregarding salary history may help prevent salary or hiring decisions being impacted by conscious or unconscious bias.
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.
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.