Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity & Inclusion

The IP Inclusive AskME Directory

Josh McLennon (Student) introduces a new initiative that aims to ensure inclusive panels, publications and policy-shaping are the norm!

This article was first published in the June 2022 issue of the CIPA Journal.

Over the past year, Jay Janusz, Krishna Kakkaiyadi, and Josh McLennon have been working with Andrea Brewster on behalf of IP & ME to create a brand-new network directory for IP professionals from a minority ethnic (ME) background.

The aim of the IP Inclusive AskME Directory is two-fold. The first aim is to assist IP professionals in diversifying their networks, and ensure that their networks reflect the breadth of people within the UK’s IP scene. The second aim is to improve the visibility of IP professionals from an ME background, too, both within the industry and beyond.

So, who can be involved?

Joining the directory

This directory is for UK-based IP professional who identify as having an ME background. So, as long as you fall into that category, you’re welcome to join – regardless of what type of job you do in the IP sector, the type of organisation you do it in, or how long you’ve been doing it for. If you do not identify as having an ME background, you can help by sharing the directory with your colleagues and contacts to ensure it reflects the diversity we already have within the industry.

Those who are interested in participating will be able to indicate if they are willing to volunteer as one or more of:

  • Speakers or panellists
  • Content creators (e.g. writing articles or blog posts)
  • Participants in committees and similar working groups
  • Examiners for professional exams
  • Mentors

If you’re only interested in, say, joining a committee but not public speaking, that’s fine: you can specify exactly what you would be comfortable volunteering for. Equally, you can volunteer for a role even if you don’t yet have much experience in that context: everyone has to start somewhere and we know it can be harder for ME professionals to get that first gig.

Volunteers will then be asked a few simple questions about, for example, your areas of work and which jurisdictions you have IP-related experience in. Most of the fields are optional if you don’t want to give certain types of information – just give as much as you think would be useful to directory users.

When the directory is up and running, the AskME team will process your application and get back to you as soon as we can to confirm that you’ve been added. “Customers” wanting to search the directory will then be able to find you and contact you directly about any speaking, writing or other opportunities they want to share. You can choose whether to provide an email address for this, or to ask people to contact you via LinkedIn.

Accessing the directory

Are you or your organisation looking to diversify the groups of people you work with? This directory is for you, too!

You willl be able to apply for access by creating an account and filling out a short form including your organisation’s name and roughly why you are looking at the directory. Once we’ve approved your application, you’ll be able to search using some basic filters for volunteers who satisfy the criteria you’re interested in.

For example, you might be an event provider looking for speakers with particular legal or technical expertise, or an editor looking for people who could write on a particular topic. For each volunteer returned by the filters, you’ll be able to see an index card, with the information they’ve provided about themselves and their contact details. The rest is up to you.

When and where will the AskME directory be available?

All of this will be accessible online, via the IP Inclusive website. The directory will open its virtual doors for business in the coming months, with an exact date still to be confirmed. Keep your eyes peeled, and make sure you’re signed up to the IP Inclusive mailing list (see https://ipinclusive.org.uk/stay-in-touch/) for the latest updates.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to take part in our Beta pilot, and be one of the first entries in the directory, please email the AskME team at [email protected].

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