Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Chris Burnett, IP Inclusive taskforce member and Associate at A. A. Thornton & Co., and is about how his firm approached the IP Inclusive Charter in order to put together their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. A. A. Thornton & Co. are one of our Charter signatories.
Chris writes: "I was involved with IP Inclusive fairly early on, and was keen that my firm should be among the first to sign the new Charter. I was confident that the partners would agree to sign the Charter, and was pleased that they readily agreed without me having to mount my soapbox (there’s a slight, slight, element of regret about this!). However, agreeing in principle to the commitments of the Charter was one thing; acting on them and bringing them to fruition is another thing entirely.
Fortunately, I could count on our Head of People, Karen Genuardi, to help. Karen had previous experience of implementing diversity and inclusion policies. We sat down and discussed how A. A. Thornton could make each commitment of the Charter happen, and more importantly, work for the firm:
1. The first commitment was easy: “Having in place a named individual within our organisation as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion officer. This person will be sufficiently senior to make change happen and to be accountable for our progress”. Karen gamely volunteered for this role, given her experience, and is part of the senior management team. The second part of the commitment is definitely important – it would be very easy to delegate the role to anyone with enthusiasm, but a partner, CEO or head of HR is much more likely to have the clout to ensure there is firm-wide buy-in.
Today's blog article has been provided by three senior trainees at Wynne-Jones IP: Matthew Veale, Grace Mason-Jarrett, and Piotr Mach. Wynne-Jones are one of our Charter signatories.
Matthew, Grace and Piotr write: "There are many misconceptions that surround the intellectual property profession.
Needing a first in your degree, that you must have attended an elite university, such as Cambridge, or that it is simply a boring ‘desk job’, are just some of false beliefs many hold.
Here at Wynne-Jones IP we are challenging these common misconceptions and supporting greater diversity, equality, and inclusivity across our profession.
In this article, we reveal what we falsely believed before entering the profession and what IP inclusivity means to us.
What did you falsely believe before applying to a role within the IP profession?
Matthew: I believed that IP was not sustainably different around the world.
Piotr: I thought it was a boring job dealing with the papers/documents only.
Grace: I didn’t know a great deal about it so hadn’t formed any opinions.
Does the role provide you with more variety than you expected?
Matthew: Yes we cover anything and everything.
Grace: Absolutely, I think when (non-attorney) people think of patents they think of Big Pharma companies but in our practice that’s not the case at all.
Piotr: Yes, it means exposure to a variety of work across different technical fields- which is great!
What common misconceptions do people have with the IP profession?
Matthew: That you need a law degree, you cover all areas of commercial/cooperate law, and generally what IP is?
Grace: From careers fairs it seems a lot of people worry that they have no experience of the profession or understanding of the Law prior to starting, but that’s really not required.
Piotr: People think you need to attend a top university, get a first, and that Brexit will have a big impact on the profession.
Is there a lack of understanding about the IP profession at university/college/school?
Matthew: Yes, there should be a module at least related to IP law in every degree, there should be some exposure to IP in the school curriculum
Grace: I rarely (if ever?) discussed it at university/college/school. It wasn’t something I came across, I think there is a lack of understanding in that it’s not widely known about particularly outside of the engineering degrees. At Southampton University the electrical Engineers had a talk from an Attorney about becoming a patent attorney, but us physics students didn’t get that.
Piotr: Yes – “are we lawyers?” is a question I get asked quite a lot!
And finally, what does being IP inclusive mean to you?
Matthew: For me, it’s thinking independently together
Grace: To me being IP inclusive means listening to everyone‘s perspective in order to obtain the best solution (for the client or for the firm)
Piotr: It definitely means working towards a more accessible and supportive IP profession regardless of background. In particular, knowing that this initiative exists not only helps me to be myself and feel respected, but also raises my openness to others."
If you would like to write a blog article for IP Inclusive, on anything diversity related, please email Emily Teesdale of Abel & Imray. Guest bloggers are always very welcome.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Chris Burnett, an Associate Patent Attorney at A. A. Thornton and is about the talk he recently gave to sixth formers at the Hylands School in Chelmsford, Essex about the careers available in IP. Chris is on the IP Inclusive taskforce and is working on the project to raise awareness of the IP professions among schools, universities and careers advisors. A. A. Thornton are one of our Charter signatories.
Chris writes: "The last time I stepped into a secondary school was when I was a pupil nearly 20 years ago. I instantly stepped back in time walking through the main door, and familiar sights and sounds came flooding back. Some things had of course changed - people were now holding the door open for me and calling me “sir”, blackboards were now projector screens and the computers weren’t BBC Micros… but you get the general idea.
I have been involved with IP Inclusive for a while now, and I am part of the Careers In Ideas team, who are trying to increase diversity by spreading the word about IP-based careers to those who have never heard of them. Like many others in the various IP professions I only found out about my present job through a family member who happened to know one. Clearly, in terms of increasing diversity this is no way to continue. In one strand of my work for IP Inclusive we are encouraging people to visit schools, universities and careers fairs to talk about what they do. This was me practicing what I preached.
The Careers In Ideas initiative is about inspiring people to take up a career in IP, and since many of these careers require a STEM degree, what better place to start than sixth formers taking science A-levels who are looking to apply to university?
I was invited to talk at Hylands School by my next-door neighbour, who is a science teacher there. Hylands is a medium-sized secondary comprehensive academy in Chelmsford with just over 700 pupils and several farm animals. Many of the students I spoke to had already decided to go to university to study science degrees, so I merely had to inspire them with tales of my daily grind.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Beck Greener and is about their project to encourage young people to consider a career in the STEM sectors. Beck Greener have been shortlisted for an award for this project.
James Stones and Catherine Jewell of Beck Greener write: "Here at Beck Greener, we are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Heart of the City Award in this year’s Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards, for our "STEM: Branching Out" project.
The aims of the project are very much in line with the good work that CIPA and IP Inclusive are doing to raise awareness of the profession among young people, and include inspiring and encouraging young people to consider a career in the STEM sectors, including the patent profession. We hope in particular to reach students from sections of the community that are currently under-represented in STEM careers generally, and the IP profession in particular, thereby improving diversity and social mobility in these sectors.
Organised by the City of London, the Lord Mayor's Dragon Awards recognise excellence in companies' Corporate Community Involvement that benefits Greater London. The Heart of the City Award in particular recognises businesses that have set up a strategic approach to community engagement for the first time in the last three years.
Launched in June last year, the Beck Greener "STEM: Branching Out" project is a new initiative within the Community aspect of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme. The project involves a variety of activities aimed at promoting careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and raising the profile of the IP profession, while also providing our staff with opportunities to develop their skills in areas such as communication, leadership, presentation, and project-management.