Published: 27 July 2015
By: Katarina Hill
The January 2015 round-table meeting on Diversity in IP led to the creation of a pan-professional diversity task force. This task force currently has nearly 40 members from organisations including CIPA, ITMA, the IP Federation, FICPI-UK and the IPO, as well as from Managing IP magazine, representing not only patent and trade mark attorneys but also IP solicitors and barristers, information scientists, IP Office examiners and HR professionals from IP practices. Its role is to implement the diversity-improving initiatives agreed during the round-table discussions.
The task force now operates under the IP Inclusive brand, the logo for which (see above) was kindly created for us by IPO staff. We are in the process of finalising a loose agreement, between participating organisations, as to how the brand will be used and controlled by the task force as an association. CIPA will provide a legal entity where necessary to stand behind the task force.
CIPA will also host an IP Inclusive website, through which to communicate, promote and administer the various task force deliverables outlined below.
The four working groups
We divided the task force into four working groups, to tackle four tranches of work:
A. Awareness-raising upstream of the IP professions
B. Best practice charter and accreditation schemes within the professions
C. Diversity training within the professions
D. Support within the professions.
Each group is working separately on its projects. Four group co-ordinators lead this work and meet regularly to review progress and ensure that efforts are appropriately aligned.
Group A is creating a set of resources aimed at raising awareness of the IP professions and encouraging recruits from a wider range of backgrounds. These resources will be targeted primarily at school and university students and their teachers and careers advisers. They will include written materials such as information pamphlets, guidance notes and posters. The CIPA Informals Committee (which represents student members of CIPA) has generously offered a donation towards the professional design and publication of the written materials.
Work is also about to start on a compilation of short video interviews with people in the IP professions, from a range of backgrounds. The style and content of these videos will be designed with a younger and more diverse audience in mind, and will stress the breadth and inclusivity of the IP professions. IPO staff are helping to edit and produce the videos.
All these resources will carry the IP Inclusive banner. Group A is collating, with the help of other task force members, a database of networks, organisations and individual contacts through whom the resources can be distributed.
The IP Inclusive Charter
Group B’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter is likely to be the first project to come to fruition. This is a voluntary code of practice for IP professionals to sign up to (see annexed draft). It is couched in deliberately high level terms so as to encourage early uptake by a range of organisations and in-house IP departments and so as to make compliance achievable even by smaller, less sophisticated organisations. In due course, higher tiers can be introduced to allow larger organisations to achieve higher standards, and thus forge a path for others to follow.
The Charter requires the appointment and notification of an EDI officer who can certify compliance and who will be asked to re-certify annually. Through the resultant network of officers, the task force can distribute updates, information and calls to action in the future.
We will provide signatories with access to supporting materials, for example guidance on best practices and template EDI policies, which Group B is also preparing.
Group C has identified a number of training providers with appropriate experience, who could work with us to provide EDI training that is not only tailored for the IP professions but also both accessible and cost-effective. Initial training is likely to be in the form of webinars, which can be widely disseminated at a relatively low cost per head, allowing the initial build costs to be recouped early on. Subsequently, the creation and delivery of more effective workshop-based training courses, as well as coaching and online guidance and training, can be explored.
The training will be IP Inclusive branded. Initially at least, it will focus on the widespread nature of, and the dangers of, unconscious bias.
Group D has begun to scope out what various support groups might look like within the IP professions, for example for women, the LGBT sector, those with disabilities, BAME groups and carers. It plans to survey the professions to gauge likely levels of uptake and seek input on the activities required.
Work will begin with IP Inclusive support networks for (a) the LGBT community (including “straight allies”), under the banner IP Out, and (b) women in IP. Members are being recruited prior to setting up social and networking events, awareness-raising and training events and bespoke discussion forums.
A mentoring scheme is also being devised. Mentoring can be an effective way of providing support to many professionals, including those from minority groups or suffering diversity-related problems, and will naturally build a more inclusive and caring community within the IP professions.
IP Inclusive launch event
We intend to hold a high-profile launch event for the various IP Inclusive initiatives in November 2015. Its purposes will be:
• to publicise the work of the task force generally, and the IP Inclusive website and brand;
• to launch and recruit for the EDI Charter, the support networks and the mentoring scheme;
• to launch the awareness-raising resources, including the videos, and to seek help with their dissemination; and
• to promote forthcoming events, in particular training webinars.
We aim to include influential and inspirational speakers, basic CPD training on unconscious bias and an early evening networking reception following the main business. We are looking into the possibility of broadcasting live from the main event in London, to satellite events around the country.
There is of course much still to do. However, IP Inclusive has brought together enthusiastic and committed volunteers from across the IP professions, and there is every reason to believe that we will be able to make a difference over the next 12 months. There is clearly an appetite to make the IP professions more diverse, more inclusive and more welcoming – and a belief that we will all of us benefit from that.
My thanks to all the task force members, and in particular the group co-ordinators Parminder Lally, Lesley Evans, Darren Mossemenear and Lee Davies, for their hard work so far.
Task force leader
Draft EDI Charter (July 2015)
A Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
By promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the Intellectual Property sector we can enable those with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to contribute fully, to fulfil their potential and to strengthen our sector. By opening up opportunities we will enhance the talent pool, and as more diverse and inclusive employers we will be better able to recruit and retain the people we need to develop and grow our organisations.
The IP Inclusive Charter for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion has been established to promote equality, diversity and inclusion within the IP sector by an association of IP organisations including:
• The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA)
• The Institute of Trademark Attorneys (ITMA)
• The IP Federation
• The UK Association of the Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys (FICPI – UK)
• The UK Intellectual Property Office.
The Charter is a public commitment by signatory organisations to adhere to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of employment practice, especially recruitment and retention, career development and workplace ethos.
We will support equality, diversity and inclusion by:
1. 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.
2. Having in place a written Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy for our organisation and making everybody in the organisation aware of it.
3. Promoting openness and transparency so as to demonstrate merit-based equal opportunities in our recruitment and career progression processes.
4. Acknowledging the effects of unconscious bias and introducing measures to tackle it.
5. Monitoring and reporting internally on our progress using measures and at intervals that are appropriate to our size and nature.
6. Sharing our experience within the IP Inclusive community to help build an effective network for equality, diversity and inclusion across the IP sector.