The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has always been one of our greatest supporters.  Its then Chief Executive John Alty signed up to the IP Inclusive EDI Charter way back in November 2015 at our official launch event.  True to form, the IPO team have thrown themselves into IP Inclusive Week with enthusiasm and creativity.  Ben Buchanan, a Deputy Director at the IPO and one of their D&I Champions, wrote to tell us what’s on…

If only there were eight days in the week!

Or nine for IP Inclusive Week!

​At the IPO we have a range of exciting and thought-provoking initiatives underway to raise the profile of IP Inclusive, celebrate diversity and continue to improve inclusion.

​Beginning Monday, our staff networks are each contributing something to raise awareness, challenge assumptions and celebrate progress for diversity and inclusion within the IPO and the IP profession.

​iPride, our LGBT+ network, are republishing a blog by Patent Examiner Anna Rice, which was originally published on LGBT in STEM day on 5th July. This is an authentic account of Anna’s journey and goes to the heart of some of the issues – and opportunities – for people within STEM education and STEM careers. You can read her blog here.

iThink, our neurodiversity network (supporting people and their managers), are researching and communicating patents which assist or facilitate people with learning, executive and/or cognitive differences for example. This is a really exciting opportunity to understand how the IP profession delivers benefits for society and makes life better.

iCAN, our disability network, are planning a wheelchair experience. Brave volunteers will experience how different physical abilities affect their day at work and ways in which we can all think and act more inclusively. Christina Everitt from iCAN writes:

“The iCAN network discussed how we could raise awareness to support IP Inclusive Week and suggested a wheelchair obstacle course. This would raise awareness of the strength required to wheel a chair around and some of the everyday obstacles that able-bodied individuals may overlook; like using a photocopier or navigating their way around. We have managed to hire 4 manual wheelchairs that volunteers will use to traverse the IPO/ONS site on a pre-agreed route, encountering ramps, manual & automatic doors, the lift and other surprises.”

GIN (that’s the Gender Inclusive Network!) are celebrating International Men’s Day on 19th November and the following day, on the 20th, the IPO are hosting the first ever Government Science and Engineering Profession Diversity and Inclusion Conference, looking at ways we can learn and share how to improve our recruitment and retention in STEM roles. You can read more about the conference here and members of the IP profession are welcome to sign up. The conference is themed around STEM roles in the Civil Service, but the topics and outcomes will be relevant for all.

Finally, on the 5th of November, the IPO celebrated its last year’s work to improve D&I within the organisation and benchmark our success, not with fireworks, but by publishing the first Annual Diversity and Inclusion report. You can read about our actions and outcomes here.

​I hope you’ve found something to inspire you and give food for thought for what you or your organisation can do, to make the most of the breadth of opportunities within the IP profession and the people that bring it to life. If we can’t squeeze in a nine day week, perhaps next year we should have IP Inclusive month!

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