Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Isobel Barry, Senior Associate at Carpmaels & Ransford, and is a report on the recent IP Out event. Carpmaels & Ransford is one of our Charter signatories.
Isobel writes: "In keeping with the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Week by not putting interested parties under pressure to attend multiple events in the same week, IP Out held its event about mental health about two months later at the end of July. It was titled In or Out: LGBT+ people and mental health.
Why hold a separate event addressing mental health issues for LGBT+ people? If you are thinking this, you are in company with about half of mental health workers, counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists, who say they do not consider sexual orientation to be relevant to one's health needs [Unhealthy Attitudes, Stonewall (2015)]. However, LGB people are more likely to experience poor mental health than the population in general, leading to problems such as attempted suicide, self-harm, anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders [Inequality among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups in the UK: a review of evidence, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, July 2016]. One study found gay men to be three times more likely to suffer from a limiting mental health condition than heterosexual men, rising to nearly five times more likely for bisexual men2. Statistics for trans* people make grim reading: nearly half (48 per cent) of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide [The RaRE Research Report (2015)].
Less surprising is the evidence that discrimination in society is a major contributor to the higher incidence of mental health problems among LGB people. Even in the absence of any overt homophobia, not being open in the workplace about one’s life can have a detrimental effect on a wide range of factors including satisfaction in one’s achievements and feelings of job security.
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!
At the end of January, IP Out held it's first social event of 2018. Darren Smyth, IP Inclusive taskforce member, IP Out Committee member, and Partner at EIP, writes about the event and encourages everyone to attend IP Out events in the future. EIP are one of our Charter signatories.
(This article first appeared on Darren's own blog: The IP Alchemist and is reproduced here with Darren's permission).
Darren writes: "I really did not think I would be writing an event report of an event that had no speakers, but actually quite a lot happened at the IP Out drinks on 30th January, and so I wanted to record a few thoughts.
It’s been less than 18 months since our first event, and we are already on our fifth. Feedback from attendees from questionnaires at our previous events continued to show support for the idea of a “social only” event, without any speakers or particular topic. So this time, for the first time, we held an event in a bar, rather than in the offices of a law firm, where all our previous events have taken place. We went for the New Bloomsbury Set, who gave us our own area and treated us very well. Since the organisation required for social drinks is much lower than for a speaker event, I am wondering whether we could make this a regular event on a fixed timetable. If we had it say every month, for example, would people want to come at that frequency?
Numbers were lower than at the more formal meetings, but we still had a decent turnout, and my impression is that a drinks event is not overall less popular, but rather that fewer people who identify as allies come if there is not a specific topic under discussion. That’s not a problem at all, but I do want to reiterate that allies are welcome at all IP Out events. I did worry that people would be deterred from attending an event where they had to buy drinks for themselves and each other rather than refreshments being kindly supplied by our host firm (and our host firms have always been very generous), but from what I saw that did not cause a problem at all.
Gratifyingly, from my rough count, about a quarter of people attending were at an IP Out event for the first time, so we are still succeeding in reaching out to new people, while remaining well-supported by our excellent committee and regular participants. I was also delighted to see that we continue to attract a wide cross-section of people from across the intellectual property law and related professions, which, as I discovered at the IP Inclusive AGM, is an aspect in which the IP Out group is really excelling. But it seems that we cannot say too often, so I am saying it again – IP Out is not only for patent attorneys, trade mark attorneys, solicitors, barristers, notaries, legal executives, members of the judiciary, trainees for those roles, and members of the judiciary. IP Out is for anyone working in IP, regardless of your role, which, in a non-exclusive list, could include secretarial, formalities, records, paralegal, searcher, journalist, translator, patent illustrator, conference organiser, HR, IT, accounts, marketing, or office services. If you are in a patent and trade mark attorney firm, an IP law firm, the IP department of an IP law firm, an in-house IP department, legal publisher, search firm, translation firm, patent illustration firm, barristers’ chambers, or similar or related organisation that I can’t think of at the moment, we would love to have you join us for any event that you wanted to attend. They are all listed on our webpage here.
Thank you again to everyone who attended our first event of 2018 and contributing to such a splendid evening."
On 12th January, Darren Smyth from our IP Out Committee will be addressing an LGBTSTEMinar in York.
In a recent tweet, Darren reminded us that "When I was a chemistry student at Oxford University 1988-1996 in my entire time I was only aware of two other out LGBT chemists". He said he is "thrilled and delighted", not only to be attending #LGBTSTEMinar for the second time, but also to be presenting there on the pregabalin litigation.
For the last LGBTSTEMinar, Darren created and displayed a poster about the work of IP Out, and we're fantastically pleased that he'll be doing the same this time. Here's a sneak preview:
The LGBT STEMinar is a one-day research meeting for people who work or study in STEM subjects and identify as LGBT+. Straight allies are also welcome. The event is free and you can find out more here.
Good luck Darren - we'll be thinking of you!
IP Inclusive Leader
Today's blog article has been provided by Tobias Hawksley Beesley, an associate at Bird & Bird LLP. Bird & Bird LLP is one of our Charter signatories, and Tobias is a committee member for our IP Out support group.
Tobias writes: "It goes without saying that everyone thinks about having children at some point in their lives – whether its thinking about if you want to have them in the first place, how you go about it, who to have children with, or if you want to go it alone. Although these questions are no different for people in the LGBT+ community, once you decide you'd like to become a parent at some point in your life, one question stands out in particular (for obvious reasons!)… 'how?'.
Should it be via adoption or surrogacy? Who will be the biological mother/father in a same-sex couple? Do you need an egg or sperm donor? Do you need a clinic? Do you look at options in the UK or abroad? How much will it all cost? How long will it take? What are the legal implications? Who is going to help you on the journey? How do you get the process started?
Indeed, it all seems a bit daunting, emotionally and legally complex. Although there are no official statistics on the number of British people that have had children via surrogacy (partly due to the ad hoc nature of many informal arrangements), in respect of adoption, reports state that 10% in the UK in 2016 were by same sex couples. What is known however is that record numbers of people in the UK are turning to alternative family building options. Surrogacy, in particular, is becoming an increasingly viable option for people in the LGBT+ community, despite the law surrounding it in the UK being dubbed by many as outdated, confusing and overly complex.
On Thursday 9th November 2017, IP Out are hosting an event entitled 'The Family Way': Helen Prosser from Brilliant Beginnings and Jade Quirke from NGALaw – experts in family and fertility law – will be talking about options available to LGBT+ people for having children. Whether you are considering this path yourself or simply want to ensure that you are able to support colleagues and contacts who might go through this process in the future, please do come along to learn something new, catch up with friends, and to meet the ever expanding IP Out network.
This will be followed, as always, by drinks and networking. Reserve your place here."
There are quite a few IP Inclusive events taking place in November:
Wednesday 8th November - unconscious bias workshop/seminar in London. For more details, see this blog post.
Thursday 9th November - an IP Out seminar in London on the options available to LGBT+ people for having children. For more details, see the IP Out page here.
Tuesday 21st November - a Women in IP seminar in London on climbing the career ladder. For more details, see the Women in IP page here.
Wednesday 29th November - workshop/seminar on the business case for diversity and inclusivity in London. The event will be hosted by Gowling WLG at 4 More London Riverside, London SE1 2AU.
This event is aimed at anyone involved in recruitment or HR, or with influence over their organisations’ EDI policies. It will include workshop-style discussions to assemble a compelling case for diversity and inclusivity, that you can take back to your own organisation to persuade colleagues on board.
Under discussion will be the impact of diversity on an organisation's internal efficiency; its talent recruitment and retention; its relationships with clients and other external stakeholders; its risk and compliance management; and its overall financial performance.
To book onto the event, see here.
Tuesday 5th December - joint CIPA, CITMA and IP Inclusive lunchtime webinar on mental health featuring Elizabeth Rimmer, the Chief Executive of LawCare. Elizabeth will talk about why mental health matters in the IP community and highlight aspects of the culture and practices of the legal professions that can compromise mental wellbeing. LawCare's support is available to all CIPA and CITMA members, and this webinar will explain the charity's role in promoting and supporting good mental health. It will also introduce some simple steps that we can all take to protect ourselves and our colleagues from mental health problems, in particular those arising from workplace stress.
This webinar is intended for all IP professionals, and may be particularly useful for new starters to the profession and for those involved in management roles.
To book, please visit the CIPA website.
The media today is somewhat swamped by the Trans* conversation, whether that be the discussion of whether or not to prescribe hormone blockers to children or Trans* ‘idols’ such as Caitlyn Jenner, Eddie Izzard or Riley Millington. Sometimes lost in the rhetoric of inclusivity and acceptance (and unfortunately, scandal), however, is actual understanding of what it means to be transgender. People do not tend to wake up one day and decide, “I was born a girl, but I am actually a boy”, or vice versa or otherwise. The mysterious “feeling” can hide itself behind many guises, including confusion over sexuality, social anxiety and a whole host of other issues that can be easier for the mind to contend with. Part of the reason that Trans* issues can be so hard to wrestle with is that the Trans* conversation is sensationalist, it is not mundane. The more mundane that it becomes, hopefully the better our understanding will become.
This article is intended as an explanation of and an introduction to Trans* issues as well as quite likely an important correction of any misconceptions the reader may have gleaned from the populist media. There is much to explain, so let’s start at the beginning.
Often the first question that is ever asked about a new life is: “Is it a boy or a girl?”. Before a child is born we begin to make assumptions that will profoundly affect its life, based entirely on an aesthetic difference detected by a scan. This isn't a decision that is being made by the parents, let alone taking into consideration the feelings of the child. This is purely a visual means of segregation.
In the ideal world, babies are born as humans - nothing more, nothing less. Nursery decorations are chosen, clothes are clothes, not because of what genitalia happen to reside between a child's legs but because of what the parent(s) actually think are practical or nice or sometimes, in the case of a lion onesie, a little fun. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world; children are born into one of two possible genders based on their outward appearance. They are taken home and announced to the world as "A little baby boy/girl"; it is at this juncture where sex has crucially been confused with gender.
And it doesn’t stop there. The first piece of knowledge almost all children have growing up in our society, along with who Mummy and/or Daddy are, is whether they are a boy or a girl. And this isn’t just an arbitrary label, it means things. Like what your favourite colour should be, whether you should be mad about horses, what toys you are allowed to play with, which other children you are allowed to play with, whether or not you should have pierced ears, what clothes you can wear, which changing room you should change in and which sports class you attend. We are segregated from the moment we come out of the womb and taught to be proper boys who grow into proper men, or proper girls who grow into proper women.
Most people accept this as the normal order of things and their prescribed place within it. Other people may not accept it but decide to live with it anyway. A further group of people decide they do not want to live with it and as a result become labelled by society as strange, subversive or in the more extreme cases perverted and morally abhorrent. Yet this need not be the case. Whilst the world at large is likely not prepared to be the ideal world that one could wish for, there are simple ways in which we can educate ourselves so that future generations are not pigeon-holed into two factions without so much as a whisper.
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:
2016 has been an eventful year, and not always in a good way. But as it draws to a close, I find myself with only positive memories of what IP Inclusive has achieved. And it’s time to say my thank yous. Because whilst I may have been the one standing at the helm, it’s been the many other committed supporters who’ve driven the ship forward, who’ve kept a look-out for threats and opportunities, and who’ve provided the vision and the passion to keep projects on track.
And these are unpaid volunteers, note: busy professionals all. IP Inclusive is powered solely by donations – of time, expertise, hospitality and finance – from the generous individuals and organisations that support us.
So, I would like to say a massive pre-Christmas “thank you”:
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Last week's IP Out event, hosted by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Kilburn & Strode, was a great success! The event was over-subscribed and the networking carried on long after the advertised end-time.
Two of the key messages of the discussion were that you should not have to change who you are to make others feel comfortable, and that it is important to be 'visible' in the workplace. You can read more about the importance of being visible in the report prepared by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Managing IP, which can be found here.
The next IP Out social event will be on Thursday 23rd February 2017. Look out for more details here or on the IP Out page.