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
On 5 December we co-hosted a webinar with CIPA, CITMA and LawCare, on "Mental Health Matters".
Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive of LawCare, talked about why mental health matters in the IP community and highlighted aspects of the culture and practices of the legal professions that can compromise mental wellbeing. She explained her charity's role in promoting and supporting good mental health, and reminded us that the LawCare helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year, for all IP professionals. She also introduced some simple steps that we can take to protect ourselves and our colleagues from mental health problems, in particular those arising from workplace stress.
At the end of her presentation, Elizabeth addressed questions about the difficult line between mental health support and competency criteria; the issues surrounding "presenteeism"; early signs of mental health problems; and particular challenges for more junior professionals and people suffering exam-related pressures.
If you missed this popular webinar, you can access a FREE recording from here, and download a copy of the presentation slides here:
We are grateful to CIPA for hosting this webinar. And we hope that many in the IP professions will use it as a catalyst for more open and constructive conversations about mental health in the workplace. We need to break down the stigma associated with mental ill-health - and the only way to do that is to talk about it more.
IP Inclusive Leader
Today's blog article has been provided by Tracy Powley and Stella Chandler, of Focal Point Training and Consultancy. They discuss the impact of inappropriate behaviour within workplace teams, and an upcoming IP Inclusive event that will help you get to grips with this thorny topic.
Tracy and Stella write: "Christmas festivities will soon be upon us once more and with an abundance of client entertaining and office parties, it is a prime time for behaviour to slip from the usual standards.
Against the backdrop of the torrent of recent allegations around sexual misconduct, this is an even more pressing issue to consider this year.
Managing inappropriate behaviour at work is one of the areas managers find most difficult to deal with, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
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.
On 8th November 2017, IP Inclusive held a seminar-cum-workshop on unconscious bias, kindly hosted by Mathys & Squire. Inspired by fabulous views from their Shard office, our group discussions yielded some great ideas about when and how unconscious bias can impact on an organisation and what steps can be taken to overcome it.
Thanks to some incredible follow-up work by one of the tutors, the IPO's Deputy Director of HR and Organisational Development Dominic Houlihan, we've turned those ideas into a "toolkit" for organisations to use in tackling unconscious bias. This is free for all members of the IP Inclusive community to download and use - and we hope it will prove useful in starting conversations, raising awareness and ultimately, in turning the IP profession into a more diverse and inclusive place.
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.
Today's blog article has been provided by May Worvill, Graduate Resourcing Manager at Bristows LLP. Bristows LLP is one of our Charter signatories.
May writes: "At Bristows, we believe inclusion initiatives should, by definition, encompass everyone who works at the firm rather than just target groups with specific protected characteristics. This attitude has pervaded the firm’s discussions on the implementation of a new agile working policy and has had a profound impact for me personally.
I’m the Graduate Resourcing Manager at the firm, but I’m also a military wife and in November last year I found out that my husband was being posted to Germany for two years from the start of 2017. I made the decision to move with him and thought that this would mean resigning from my role at Bristows; not something I was keen to do. With regret, I approached my manager (the Head of HR) and also the partner I report in to, to let them know my situation. I openly asked if there was any way that I could continue working at the firm, fully expecting a response of “we’re sorry, but no”. But, this is not what I heard back from either of them. Instead to my delight, “Well why can’t you just work remotely?” was the response.
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.
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.