On 29 July 2020 we convened a virtual round table meeting to discuss BAME representation levels in the UK’s IP sector. Led by IP & ME, IP Inclusive’s community for BAME professionals and their allies, the event was attended by representatives from across the sector. You can read here about the initial commitments that we agreed.
Now it’s time to get off the starting blocks and turn those commitments into action. We’ve published some more detailed meeting outcomes, which contain a wealth of constructive suggestions that the participants could pursue.
Senior-level ownership of these commitments will of course be crucial, to ensure that adequate resources are devoted to them and to maintain and focus the momentum gained at the July 2020 round table.
You can access the meeting outcomes here. Please share them with others in your organisation and try to weave as many of them as possible into your own business activities.
We are proud of what this meeting achieved – it was the first of its kind in bringing the IP sector together in pursuit of greater ethnic diversity – but we know this is only a starting point. Now the real work starts. We’ll keep you posted…
What the participants have to say
Everyone who took part in the round table recognised the importance of taking positive, concrete action if we’re to create lasting change in the sector. Some of their organisations have kindly provided us with updates on how they are taking the recommendations forward, and endorsement from their own governing bodies. We’d be happy to add similar messages and updates from your organisation, department or group: just let us know how you’re getting on with implementing the recommendations and doing your bit to improve BAME representation in the IP sector.
The IPO will publish the outcomes of the BAME round table (or link to them from internal and external news stories). We are committed to engaging with IP Inclusive to contribute to and improve BAME representation within the IP professions (eg through Careers in Ideas, working groups and events). Our BAME network Chairs, Ros Lynch and Michelle Llewellyn, have expressed their thanks and support for the BAME round table outcomes and will include BAME allies in the implementation of outcomes.
The IPO has been a signatory of the Business in The Community Race at Work Charter for two years, committing to taking action to achieve racial equality in the workplace.
- We completed the Race at Work Survey in 2018 and acted on feedback as a result, particularly around recruitment and development. As a result, we used Equality Impact Assessments to review our recruitment practices, we amended our job adverts, ensured recruitment panels were race balanced, and enlisted local BAME organisations for support. This has resulted in double the numbers of applicants from a BAME background.
- We have improved the way we capture and publicise ethnicity data, both internally and externally, introducing a “Diversity data dashboard”, that compares our workplace data to that of our travel to work area. This information, along with our People Survey results, helps us identify key areas for action within the organisation, and is used by our steering group and Board to inform our action plans.
- The 2017 People Survey highlighted areas of concern around discrimination, bullying and harassment. Although comparable to the rest of the Civil Service, this didn’t fit in with the IPO values. We engaged with an external organisation to review this, carrying out several activities with measurable outcomes, including focus groups, training, bystander training, promoting the IPO values, creating toolkits and communicating the Board’s zero-tolerance statement.
We continue to focus our attention in this area, and it is part of our Corporate plan. The 2019 People Survey shows that we have some progress to make as there hasn’t been much change; however the engagement levels of those of Asian or Asian British declared ethnicity have increased by 6%, and the number of people who selected “prefer not to say” reduced from 80 to 65.
From AIPPI UK:
See the affirmatory statement published here immediately following the round table meeting.
From CIPA (the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys):
CIPA was delighted to be involved in IP Inclusive’s recent roundtable event addressing BAME representation in the IP professions. CIPA Council takes its responsibilities towards diversity and inclusion seriously and considered the outcomes of the round table at its September meeting, in a session led by Andrea Brewster. Council decided that it could do more to address diversity and inclusion in the patent attorney profession by establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In addition, Council decided that it would like to measure future success and that this is best achieved through gathering comprehensive data on the diversity of CIPA’s membership. Council also agreed to develop a mentoring and sponsorship programme for BAME members working in the patent attorney and IP paralegal professions.
CIPA President, Richard Mair, said:
“CIPA has come a long way in a short time, thanks to the work of IP Inclusive, the many CIPA members who actively support diversity and inclusion initiatives, and the CIPA staff who ensure CIPA is an inclusive membership association. But there is more we can do and I am pleased that CIPA Council has signalled that it is prepared to locate this important area of work within the governance of CIPA, through the establishment of a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and to lead the way in gathering data and supporting BAME professionals.”
From the CIPA Informals:
The CIPA Informals Committee will be discussing these outcomes at its next committee meeting, following the annual re-appointment of its members.
From CITMA (the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys):
Tackling racial injustice and increasing BAME representation in the sector is essential to creating a more diverse and inclusive future. The outcomes and steps from the BAME round table discussion must be reviewed and implemented by everyone to generate change. Our Diversity and Inclusion working group will be reviewing the published outcomes and suggested steps, to underline where we can make a positive impact.
We are committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive future for everyone – no matter their background.
From the IP Federation:
As an industry association, we have a great history of respect for each other and for others. Several of our Federation members helped to establish and continue to support IP Inclusive and the Federation is a member of IP Inclusive Management. So we were very supportive of the recent BAME round table. When published, we will actively promote and discuss the outcomes among our members and encourage them to take positive action. As discrimination of any kind is counter to our culture and as an organisation representing many UK and global businesses, we are committed to bringing about significant change.
From the IPLA (Intellectual Property Lawyers’ Association):
IPLA enthusiastically supports the work of IP Inclusive in the field of promoting greater diversity and improved equality of opportunity in the world of IP law. It is a topic of great interest and concern to the members of IPLA and there is unequivocal backing for the excellent work done by IP Inclusive in this area.
As IP Inclusive feeds through the output from its round tables, sessions and research, IPLA will share that with its members and give time at each of its quarterly meetings for discussion on projects and plans, and how best IPLA can actively and usefully support the work of IP Inclusive in the implementation of its strategies and recommendations. We will encourage each member firm of IPLA to sign up to the IP Inclusive Charter.
As recommendations emerge and are discussed, IPLA will support and encourage its membership to implement the steps proposed and to provide measurable feedback to monitor progress, and outcomes. As you know, we already commit the time of our committee members to support IP Inclusive, attend its meetings and events, and publicise them among our member firms.
We will consider the suggested sector-wide working groups at our next committee meeting and will report back to you.
From our IP Ability community:
At IP Ability, we are encouraged both by the energy that participants put in to July’s round table and by the outcomes. The crucial thing now is to turn those outcomes into a reality, and we will work with others in the sector to achieve this.
From our IP Out community:
IP Out – the IP Inclusive network for LGBTQ+ people and their allies – wholeheartedly supports the steps being taken by IP Inclusive to improve the situation for minority ethnic people in the profession. We sent representatives to the round table meeting and are excited about the commitments that have resulted from that session. As a first step, the IP Out committee commits to the following:
- To publicise the round table outcomes to our members and encourage them to spread them to decision makers in their own organisations
- To consider linked up events with IP & ME
- To cross-promote events with IP & ME
- To arrange an educational event on issues faced by minority ethnic LGBTQ+ people
- To engage with the IP Inclusive diverse speaker directory in an attempt to improve the diversity of speakers at our events
From our Women in IP community:
We at Women in IP are wholeheartedly committed to supporting our BAME members and the wider BAME IP community. We endorse the statements of principle from the BAME round table and believe that IP professionals should stand together in support of racial and ethnic equality. We are working with IP & ME to develop events to support our BAME community and as a result, we hope to increase the number of allies.
From the IP & Technology Law Department of BAE Systems plc:
On behalf of BAE Systems, I am proud to have signed up to the IP inclusive Charter. I strongly support the D&I work (of which the BAME work is a key strand) as a critical enabler to success.
My company are organising various events for the forthcoming National Inclusion Week, covering interactive open discussions for example on mental health and wellbeing, gender language and why it matters, understanding unconscious bias, what does “black lives matter” really mean, living in the new Covid world, and how understanding and engaging with other cultures gives a real business advantage. There is strong support from the senior leaders.
Thanks again for your energy and tremendous contributions in this area.
Dr Bobby Mukherjee CPA, EPA
Chief Counsel – Intellectual Property & Technology Law
From IP specialist recruiters Caselton Clark:
We generally support the outcomes of the meeting and strive to ensure best practice when working with clients to present a diverse but relevant range of candidates. This has included on occasion only presenting anonymised CVs as an initial shortlist focusing more on skills and experience. We will also do all that we can to publicise these conclusions within our own networks.
From patent and trade mark attorney firm Dehns:
At Dehns we:
- Had already commenced removing names and gender from job candidate profiles
- Have arranged imminent compulsory unconscious bias training for all staff
- Have established an Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity Committee (which met this week)
From IP law firm EIP:
EIP is fully supportive of this initiative and we look forward to playing our part in making lasting progress on the issue of BAME representation within the UK’s IP sector. Seeking out diversity is part of EIP’s core values and we feel much more can be done to ensure that the IP sector is seen as an attractive destination for promising BAME candidates. We will be very happy to work with IP Inclusive on the suggestions that have come out of the round table, in particular on Increasing BAME levels on recruitment into the sector and tackling unconscious bias. We are formalising our D&I efforts within a Diversity Focus Group which will have representation from across the firm and will lead our efforts. We will also have a regular slot to discuss D&I initiatives and issues at our Partners meetings. Some specific steps we are working towards in the short to medium term are:
- Forming partnerships with schools in ethnically diverse areas leading to careers talks, open day visits and internship opportunities for students.
- Broadening our advertising avenues to increase the number of BAME applicants to EIP.
- Tackling any unconscious bias in our entry level graduate recruitment process. We already have a well-structured trainee recruitment process in place but will continually review our processes to determine which measures can best achieve desired outcomes. We are considering introducing some level of anonymisation or affirmative action at the initial candidate screening stage and Partners are taking the Race Implicit Association Test to further reduce any unconscious bias at the later interview stages of our recruitment process.
From international law firm Pinsent Masons:
Inclusivity is at the core of Pinsent Masons’ values. In 2018, we worked with our D&I consultancy, Brook Graham, to understand the experiences of those from minority ethnic backgrounds across some of our major jurisdictions, and to identify barriers to recruitment and career progression. Recommendations were summarised into three categories: culture, leadership commitment to race and ethnicity, and career progression. We have made significant progress in implementing the recommendations made, and the additional commitments that we have signed up to, such as the RARE Race Fairness Commitment, but there is still work to do. Some of our key work has included Reciprocal Mentoring and Group Mentoring Programmes, a Real Role Models Programme and Cultural Confidence training, to name a few. Our firm is dedicated to creating inclusion and fully supports equal opportunities. It has a well-established F.R.E.E. (Faith, Religion, Ethnicity, Equality) Network which aims to make Pinsent Masons a place where our staff are free to be themselves, and openly embrace their race and ethnicity, and has almost 300 members across our international network.
Within the IP team, we want to create a safe space to discuss and shed light on issues minority ethnicities face. We recently had a session in our team meeting to discuss minority ethnic issues. There are mental health champions in the IP team, and we are also in the process of setting up an IP working group, which will encourage our team to educate themselves further about race, ethnicity and cultures through discussion, films, books and food.
From IP firm Potter Clarkson:
Potter Clarkson fully supports the dynamic and forward-thinking outcomes of the IP Inclusive round table on improving BAME representation in the IP sector. The valuable work done by IP Inclusive in bringing together various representatives in the IP community and fostering a genuine spirit of cooperation between delegates on matters affecting recruitment and retention into our profession will lead the change for many firms, institutions, and organisations in modelling best practice and shaping their internal policies. The platform that IP Inclusive and IP & ME have built, in collectively sourcing innovative and resourceful suggestions to the sector as a whole, allows all participants within the sector to benefit, by providing real opportunities to all, on a fair playing field.
Central to the discussions on the day, was the theme of “belonging”, something which we are placing at the heart of our renewed and reinvigorated approach to EDI. This year has brought to the fore, the inequalities faced by many, but in particular, black communities around the world. We as a firm are dedicated to improving our understanding and infrastructure, to ensure that we are doing everything we can to level what is an uneven field; thinking globally but acting locally, so that opportunities, both internally for our BAME employees, and for future joiners, are not denied. This is a long process, but we have noticeably stepped up our efforts this year with the launch of our own EDI Group to look at how Potter Clarkson can actively contribute to the sense of belonging for all its employees.
We are committed to our continued work with IP Inclusive and all other organisations, to work collaboratively to tackle inequality and allow everyone to progress within the IP field while recognising that there is no one “perfect” path. We are committed to ensuring that we are continually reviewing our internal policies to ensure we are doing everything possible to be a diverse place of work that welcomes and retains people from all different backgrounds, races, and ethnicities.
…And the last word comes from IP & ME themselves…
The IP & ME committee members find the practical outcomes from the round table discussion very instructive and encouraging. We thank all the individuals who attended the meeting. We look forward to working with allies and industry stakeholders on how to implement the outcomes effectively.