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 been provided by Emma Longland, Senior Patent Attorney at HGF Limited. HGF Limited is one of our Charter signatories.
Emma writes: "On 21st November the Women in IP network, which is a support group of the IP Inclusive initiative, held their second annual panel discussion. The event was also a celebration of one year since the launch of the Women in IP network.
The subject of this year’s panel discussion was “Climbing up the Career Ladder”, and it was graciously hosted by CMS in their shiny new building on Cannon Street. The speakers on the panel had a range of experiences from which to approach the discussion, with Catriona Hammer, IP Consultant, acting as chair and joined by three Partners (Sarah Wright of CMS, Matthew Critten of Abel and Imray, and Julia Gwilt of Appleyard Lees), one IP General Counsel (Karen Cochran of Shell), and one IP Specialist Recruiter (Pete Fellows of Fellows and Associates).
Over 200 people applied to attend the event, and the high attendance reflected this by way of a largely female audience with a scattering of men.
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.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Lucie Jones, an executive paralegal at EIP. EIP is one of our Charter signatories.
Lucie writes: "I remember watching a video on social media: “If men breastfed”. This advert for a breast pump company depicts what the workplace would be like if breastfeeding was the realm of men. I giggled seeing male stereotypes associated with expressing breast milk: men gathering in a lactation lounge that looks like a pub/casino, competing to express the most breastmilk, the gadget geeks boasting their high tech breast pumps, the fitness freak using the expressing time for a work out. I became seriously envious when I saw the breast shields being cleaned by the barman and lactation cookies and lactation steaks being on offer… and beer! And here I was, alone in my small meeting room, with my low tech pump, trying to express enough for my son’s next day feeds.. and not having had a drop of alcohol for months! How I wished I could be drinking a (virgin) mojito while my breast pump massages my neck and shoulders at the same time as expressing my milk… Still I was incredibly grateful to have this private space accommodated for me and for being allowed the time to express for as long as I wanted without any questions asked.
The majority of women decide to stop breastfeeding before they go back to work. After all in the UK we are granted a one year maternity leave and if one third of the mothers are still breastfeeding at 6 months, only 0.5% do so at 12 months. However some women decide to keep breastfeeding for all sorts of reasons. In my case, my son had been born extremely premature and even though he was almost one year old when I went back to work, he would have been only 8 months old had he been born full term. He had chronic lung disease that made him more susceptible to chest infections and as we were in the middle of winter I wanted him to have the immunity my breastmilk could give him. It would have been very difficult for me to go back to work hadn’t I been given the possibility to express in the office. At first it was to make sure he had enough breastmilk for his feeds while I was at work and for this I was pumping three times a day. Then, as he got stronger and healthier, it was for my body to adjust to not breastfeeding/expressing for a long period of time and I could reduce the expressing sessions progressively.
There are less dramatic reasons to want to keep breastfeeding a child. Many mothers have to, or choose to, shorten their maternity leave and go back to work when their baby is still heavily reliant on breastmilk, or their infant is allergic to formula/cow’s milk, or some just want to follow the World Health Organisation recommendation to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond... Whatever their reason is, it is important that they are given the possibility to do so.
Today's blog article has kindly been provided by Julie Barrett-Major, consulting attorney at A. A. Thornton & Co., which is one of our Charter signatories.
Julie writes: "Since being asked if I would contribute to this blog, I have been wondering what to write about. Some topics were suggested to me and also perhaps my first blog should introduce myself. But, in the last few of weeks, a number of items hit the press that provoked thoughts; it seems ‘plus ça change’. I have been in the IP profession for a long time, and I was a bit out of the normal mould when I started (some would say I still am!). I was female for a start, not from Oxbridge, not from the usual ‘class’, and I’d managed to mix my Chemistry degree with a non-science subject. Congratulations to the Wellcome Foundation Ltd and Laurence Jenkins, CPA, for giving me an opportunity to have – what I still regard as – an interesting and absorbing career. Along the way, I have been a member of the Council of CIPA and various of its committees, worked in various organisations – both private practice and in-house – and also set up my own business while my children were young.
I have many stories to tell about ‘non-inclusive things’ (which I shall from now on call NITs) that either happened to me or that I came across – some of which I’ll write about in future blog posts. But the recent press reports made me think of one NIT – which is actually a pair of NITs – in particular: a young woman, who was young, single, newly-qualified and worked in private practice, telephoned me in my office and asked what she should do about the facts that: (NIT1) her firm had magazines in their reception area that she felt demeaned women; and (NIT2) she had effectively been told she would never make partner because she was likely to have children ‘fairly soon’.
I must admit my initial reaction may not have been the most helpful. Brought up as an engineer’s daughter and used to venturing into man-filled workshops that all had calendars on the walls depicting scantily-clad women, I was inclined to suggest she get the male equivalent of a ‘Calendar Girls’ item and hang it prominently in the reception area – and see what happened. We also discussed whether her firm’s partners were clairvoyant and, if so, could they save me buying a little blue testing kit, too. That was about 35 years ago. Surely a lot has changed since then?"
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 debate about gender equality, terms like “positive discrimination” and “quotas” get a bad press. Both men and women tend to feel uncomfortable with the concepts. But it’s time we got real about this. We do not yet have equality in the workplace. After years of anti-discrimination laws and equal pay legislation, there is still a significant gender pay gap. Women are still not well represented in the board room. There are still assumptions about female roles, and corresponding biases, that affect people of all genders.
Something needs to be done. And that something requires us to be bold. Fussing about positive discrimination being unethical is for the person who wants to preserve the status quo or the one who’s reluctant to cause trouble. And unfortunately that does appear to be our choice: to stir up trouble, or to make scant progress.
The key questions are: is the status quo really good enough? Will the current pace of change – often painfully slow – suffice? Is it OK for our own children to suffer discrimination, and their children too? For me, no. I think we all deserve better.
Facebook recently announced that they will require women and ethnic minorities to account for at least 33% of the law firm teams they engage. I salute them for that. If you cannot see for yourself that, say, 10% women is inappropriate, then someone must step in and say it for you.
So what are the arguments that make us wary of positive discrimination?
Join us at AIPLA's Global Networking Event!
On Thursday 4th May 2017, the Women in IP network of IP Inclusive will be participating in the AIPLA Women In IP Law Committee’s Global Networking Event in Glasgow, Manchester and London. Join us, along with other cities across Europe, to catch-up with fellow IP professionals and to hear from speakers on fascinating topics around women in innovation.
The events will be held in the late afternoon and evening on Thursday 4th May, and are kindly being hosted by some of the IP Inclusive Charter signatories. Please register early as places are limited.
Glasgow: Join us for wine, nibbles and networking as we discuss plans for and progress towards the Unified Patents Court (UPC). This event is being hosted by Murgitroyd. To register, or for more information, please email Lauris Kemp. Please note, this event is for women only.
Manchester: Gather in Manchester, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and now GrapheneCity, at Mewburn Ellis LLP’s office to celebrate innovation and inclusion. Over cheeses, wine and mocktails we’ll discuss the role women play in innovation, both by celebrating notable figures from our history and by looking to the future and our role in it. To register, or for more information, please email Sarah Brearley. Please note, this event is for women only.
London: Gill Jennings & Every LLP invite you to meet at the Urban Innovation Centre, Clerkenwell for cocktails and canapés and to hear from speakers who work to encourage young women into the scientific professions and to support investment in innovative start-ups with a diverse leadership. If you would like more information, or would like to know how to register, please email Lucy Samuels. Please note, this event is open to women and men.
We look forward to seeing you there,
The Women In IP Committee
Isobel Barry, a senior associate at Carpmaels & Ransford, is our latest guest blogger and discusses the Women of the World festival she recently attended in London. Carpmaels & Ransford is one of the signatories of the IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Isobel is a key member of the Women in IP group and IP Out.
Isobel writes: "March featured a large number of women-focussed events to coincide with International Women's Day, and one of the biggest in London was the Women of the World (WOW) festival. Over three days the Southbank Centre was buzzing with thousands of people, mostly women, attending talks, workshops, panel discussions, and performances of music and spoken word. Speakers ranged from MPs to asylum seekers, from academics to actors, from activists to CEOs and MDs... even a handful of men.
A caveat to this report is necessary at this point: it can only reflect the panels I attended, and with as many as 10 different sessions in a given time slot, there were a very large number of different experiences of the festival to be had.
With the work of IP Inclusive at the front of my mind on the first day I attended a session entitled The Business Case for Diversity, which featured panellists from large organizations including UBS, AIG and Bloomberg. The business case itself didn't need much explanation (see the post on this blog here), but when it came to the ways of achieving diversity, there were as many different takes as there were speakers. Some of these might be transferable to smaller businesses, some might be less so. One speaker believed that the key to diversity and inclusion is in holding line managers accountable, since they are instrumental at key points in people's careers. Another focussed on the need to make a pledge to drive change around it: "without putting a line in the sand, you won't get where you need to be". A statement that rang true was the need to look for role models that fit the business' own view of itself. There was also a suggestion that the tendency to downplay the moral and ethical case for diversity and inclusion can be a misjudgement, since people need to care to be motivated to work for change."
We are excited to announce our next nationwide Women in IP event, which will be taking place on Thursday 23rd March 2017, from 08:30.
The breakfast event is being hosted by a number of IP firms at venues in London, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Bath and Cambridge. Join us for a coffee and a chance to meet other IP professionals before watching our webinar on gender inclusivity. The event is open to all, not just women. If you work in IP or the IP-related professions (e.g. attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries, technology transfer specialists, in-house IP teams, trainee IP attorneys, solicitors, barristers, technical translators, IP journalists, etc.), please join us!
The "How to be a Workplace Ally" webinar will be led by:
If you've signed-up to the Women in IP mailing list, you should have an invitation to the event in your inbox. In any case, if you would like to attend the event, please let us know by completing this form.
The programme for the event is as follows: