IP Inclusive – diversity in IP

On Monday 30 November, Marks & Clerk LLP hosted around 40 professionals from across the IP sector for the launch of the IP Inclusive initiative. The initiative is a joint venture between organisations including CIPA, ITMA, the IP Federation, FICPI-UK, the IP bar and the UKIPO, and aims to promote equality, diversity and inclusion within the IP sector. Sara Jane Paines and Harry Muttock attended on behalf of the Informals.

The event included a keynote speech by John Alty, Chief Executive of the UKIPO, a CPD seminar on unconscious bias, an update on the work carried out by each of the four IP Inclusive projects (Raising Awareness, Best Practice, Training and Support) and a presentation on the benefits diversity and inclusion can have for business.

The seminar on unconscious bias was both surprising and thought-provoking. The presentation included slides which showed how the brain can process and make assumptions about information without conscious thought being involved. The audience reacted with shock when it was pointed out how they were being led to believe or assume certain things (which turned out to be false) about the images presented. It was a good introduction to the idea of unconscious bias and how it can cause problems in decision-making.

The next session was an update from working group leaders on each of the four IP Inclusive projects. The Best Practice working group have drawn up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter which organisations and firms can sign up to in order to affirm their commitment to promoting these principles in their employment practice. The target of gaining 100 signatories to the Charter by the end of January 2016 has been set.

The working group for Training discussed the exclusive resources they have been creating for signatories to the Charter. The unconscious bias seminar was a taster of the training that will be provided. Initially, they plan to offer training via webinar and intend to look into providing workshop-based training courses in the future.

The Support working group are looking to set up a mentoring scheme. In addition, they want to create support networks for the LGBT community (including “straight allies”) and women in IP. There are plans for social events for these groups in early 2016.

Finally, the working group for Raising Awareness explained how they are targeting schools and universities to encourage recruits into the profession from a wider range of backgrounds. They have designed a set of resources including posters and leaflets to distribute to teachers and careers advisers. In addition, a series of video interviews with professionals from across the sector is being created to show young people the range of IP careers available to them.

The last presentation of the event was a summary of the business benefits of diversity and inclusion. The statistics presented during this talk showed that businesses with a higher degree of diversity in their workforce see improved results compared to other, less diverse businesses. As CIPA President and IP Inclusive task force leader Andrea Brewster said in her closing remarks, the launch event overall presented the case that, whether from a moral, ethical or business standpoint, “being diverse is the right thing to do”.

If you would like to find out more about the IP Inclusive initiative, visit the website at www.ipinclusive.org.uk

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