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What does signing up to the Charter involve?

Signing up to the IP Inclusive Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter is a public endorsement of the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion within the IP professions.

It involves making six commitments, which are designed to be achievable by individuals and organisations working in or with IP – in industry, private practice or the public sector, whatever their size and structure, wherever they are based and whatever the nature of their involvement with IP.

By signing up to the Charter, you commit to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion by:

  1. Having in place a named individual within your organisation as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer.  This person needs to be sufficiently senior to make change happen and to be accountable for your progress.
  2. Having in place a written Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy for your organisation and making everybody in the organisation aware of it.
  3. Promoting openness and transparency so as to demonstrate merit-based equal opportunities in your recruitment and career progression processes.
  4. Acknowledging the effects of unconscious bias and introducing measures to tackle it.
  5. Monitoring and reporting internally on your progress using measures and at intervals that are appropriate to your size and nature.
  6. Sharing your experience within the IP Inclusive community to help build an effective network for equality, diversity and inclusion across the IP sector.

Many organisations will already meet or exceed these commitments, but they have been designed to be achievable by even the smallest organisation or sole practitioner, as well as by those who are relatively new to EDI concepts.

What if we already have EDI policies?

We know that many organisations already have EDI policies and are involved in EDI initiatives. The IP Inclusive Charter is not intended to replace or conflict with these – but it represents a public commitment to good practices that is specific to the IP professions. This means that it is also suitable for IP departments within larger organisations.

What are the benefits of signing up to the Charter?

Involvement in the IP Inclusive Charter community will help you to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within your own organisation, with all the business benefits and positive PR that brings. It will demonstrate your commitment to your staff and their wellbeing, and to a better IP profession for all, in turn helping you to attract and retain new recruits.

The benefits of being an IP Inclusive EDI Charter signatory include:

  • Positive PR. Our Charter signatories are named on our website. You will also be entitled to use the IP Inclusive logos on your own website, promotional materials and communications. Our signatories are increasingly doing this to signify their commitment to EDI, which can be attractive to clients, suppliers and potential recruits as well as to existing staff. The logos can be downloaded here.
  • Access to updates, information and resources. Charter signatories receive updates about IP Inclusive’s activities and events and information on issues of relevance to EDI. We will also keep you informed about our supporting resources, for example sample policies, toolkits, guidance notes, presentations and training materials, to help you in creating a more equal, diverse and inclusive workplace. From time to time you will have access to bespoke schemes such as the “Steps to Inclusion” D&I review developed for us by Focal Point Training and Consultancy.
  • Greater involvement in the IP Inclusive community. Importantly, signing up to the Charter will help to involve you in our growing community of EDI enthusiasts. It will widen your professional networks, bring new friends and colleagues, support and guide your EDI efforts, and provide opportunities for sharing ideas and experiences whilst contributing to the healthy growth of the wider IP professions.

In due course, we hope to establish regional “chapters” of Charter signatories, to encourage organisations to exchange ideas and experiences and support one another’s EDI efforts. We already have a Scottish chapter, so if you have a base in Scotland please let us know and we will introduce you to other signatories in your area.

Who else has signed up?

Take a look at our list of current Charter signatories.

They represent a wide range of entities, from sole practitioners to large international law firms, including in-house departments in small businesses, global corporations and public sector bodies. They include patent and trade mark practices; law firms and barristers’ chambers with IP specialism; and other professionals involved in IP, for example IP managers, searchers, information providers and publishers; IP recruitment specialists; membership bodies such as ACID, CIPA, CITMA, FICPI-UK and The IP Federation; and (one of our earliest signatories) the UK Intellectual Property Office. They are based throughout Great Britain. This is a pan-professional scheme.

How do we sign up?

To sign up to the IP Inclusive EDI Charter, you need to complete a simple form providing us with your contact details. By doing so, you are agreeing to the six Charter commitments listed above.

You will be asked to provide details of two people:

  • an “Authorised Signatory”, who must have the authority to make the six Charter commitments on behalf of the organisation; and
  • a designated EDI Officer, who will be the main point of contact between your organisation and IP Inclusive and will be responsible for acting on the Charter commitments.

Your EDI Officer can be the same as the Authorised Signatory. If you would like to appoint more than one EDI Officer to receive IP Inclusive updates – for example to cover different office locations or different departments within your organisation – please contact our EDI Charter Group at ipinclusivecharter@gmail.com.

There are two options for signing up, one for when the Authorised Signatory is able to make a commitment on behalf of the whole organisation (this option is appropriate, for example, for private sector organisations), and one for use by in-house IP departments and teams working within a larger company, where the Charter commitments are made on behalf of the department or team only.

What happens after we've signed up to the Charter?

Your Authorised Signatory and designated EDI Officer will receive a welcome email from our EDI Charter Group. This will give you more information about how you can get involved with IP Inclusive.

We will add your name to our website list of Charter signatories. We will also add your details to our database of Charter signatories. Your named individual(s) will be subscribed to our Charter Signatories and EDI Officers mailing lists, so that we can keep them updated on what IP Inclusive is doing. See below for more information about the data protection side of things.

The rest is up to you really. Please join in as many of our events and activities as possible, make use of our resources, and do what you can to publicise IP Inclusive throughout your organisation and wider contacts. If you would like help developing your EDI policies and strategies, a good place to start is the “Steps to Inclusion” review developed for us by Focal Point Training.

The IP Inclusive EDI Charter is a self-certification scheme. We rely on our signatories to make every effort they can to fulfil the six commitments, and we provide resources to help them do that. Whilst we reserve the right, if we learn that one of our signatories is not fulfilling the Charter commitments, to investigate and to take appropriate action (for example withdrawing their Charter signatory status), we are a small organisation run largely by volunteers and we do not have the resources to turn these things into a big deal. There are far more negative consequences to poor EDI practices than any sanctions IP Inclusive could impose.

So, please do not sign up to the Charter as a mere box-ticking exercise; make this a genuine commitment to take action to improve equality, diversity and inclusion where you work.

What if we need help fulfilling the Charter commitments?

Don’t worry. IP Inclusive is here to help. There are plenty of useful templates and information sources on our resources page, including a sample EDI policy. Please get in touch if you need more; we can often point you in the right direction for further resources and guidance.

So long as you’ve a definite intention to make the requisite changes – for instance in your internal policies and procedures – you can still sign up to the Charter even if the changes aren’t completely finished. Improving equality, diversity and inclusion is an ongoing process, and our Charter is a commitment to keep at it.

What about the data protection stuff?

We use the data we collect from you when you sign up to the Charter to keep you informed about our activities and the support we need to continue them, and about issues and resources relevant to equality, diversity and inclusion in the IP professions. Most of our updates will be sent to the EDI Officers only, but occasionally it will be appropriate for us to contact the Authorised Signatories as well.

Our mailing lists are hosted on IP Inclusive’s MailChimp® account. For more information on how and why we use your data, please read our Privacy Notice and Data Protection Policy.

How do we keep in touch?

If you have any questions or concerns to do with our EDI Charter, or need to share information with us, you can contact our EDI Charter Group at ipinclusivecharter@gmail.com.

Please remember to let us know about any significant changes to your organisation, for example the appointment of a new EDI Officer, or a change of name or address or legal status. Please note that for your organisation to remain a Charter signatory, we do need to have contact details for at least one designated EDI Officer and an Authorised Signatory.  

Happy? Sign up to the Charter now