Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Ben Buchanan, a UK IPO Diversity Champion, and is a summary of his presentation at Urquhart-Dykes & Lord's annual internal conference. Both the IPO and UDL are Charter signatories.
Ben writes: "On 16 June 2017 I had the pleasure of speaking on behalf of IP Inclusive to people from across the business at Urquhart-Dykes & Lord. UDL are IP Inclusive charter signatories and had invited a speaker from the IP Inclusive taskforce to talk to them at their annual conference about the work we do and how UDL could get involved.
The event provided a valuable opportunity to have a big conversation about why diversity and inclusion (D&I) is good for business – as well as being the right thing to do. It was also an opportunity to make sweeping assumptions, challenge them, and think about how – and why – to mitigate the consequences of unconscious bias in everything we do.
After an introduction to IP Inclusive and a recap of our recent achievements, I asked the conference delegates to think of as many differentiating characteristics – diversity categories if you like – as they could.
Interestingly the feedback moved rapidly on from protected characteristics and visually apparent differences, to things like educational background, ideological beliefs and values, culture, cognitive preferences and sources of motivation. Within the workplace, people were talking about length of service, seniority and working patterns. Outside work we talked about friendships, community ties and preferences for living environments.
We then reflected on these differences and how they can potentially benefit business performance and competitive advantage. How, by making the most of them, organisations can empower people to be themselves and do their best.
The UK IPO recently unveiled its Corporate Plan for 2017-2020. Among its key goals for the next three years is to improve the skills and capability of its people. The Plan emphasises the importance of creating an organisation "where difference is valued and one where our people feel able to bring their whole selves to work". It includes a Ministerial target to secure external validation of the IPO's approach to inclusion for under-represented groups.
IP Inclusive applauds the IPO's stance on these important issues and is grateful for the Office's continued support and collaboration, which sends a message about the value and credibility of IP Inclusive's own work in the IP professions. We have therefore sent the following letter to the IPO's new Chief Executive, Tim Moss:
"On behalf of IP Inclusive, I would like to congratulate your Office on the publication of its Corporate Plan for 2017-2020.
We at IP Inclusive are always keen to hear about what members of the IP professions are doing to improve diversity, equality and inclusion within the professions. In particular, we're really interested to learn what our Charter signatories are doing to support and promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the IP professions. So, we were pleased to discover that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) held a diversity conference on 25th January at their headquarters in Newport, South Wales. Ben Buchanan, IPO Diversity Champion, discusses the event and the IPO's diversity initiatives.
"Over the last few years, the IPO has reviewed our diversity credentials and designed and delivered a strategy to help us reap the benefits of becoming a truly inclusive working environment. We have sought to better understand the make-up of our workforce so that not only can we cater for everyone’s needs but we can also support the diversity of our customers and stakeholders.
We have done this by working with a number of partners including other government departments, private and third sector organisations, as well as training and developing our people to make the most of their potential.
Our latest initiative was the highly successful ‘Time for Inclusion’ conference run by the Diversity and Inclusion Group – this conference brought diversity to life by using personal stories told by IPO people, which helped us to personalise the message. In one delegate’s words…
"Diversity is often seen as a corporate topic which everyone agrees is important, but is often ill-defined. Asking around to establish what it exactly means in practice usually results in baffled looks of uncertainty. This conference provided a powerful and clear perspective of the importance and potential of Diversity and Inclusion through the honesty and bravery of those taking part.