Continuing with the International Women’s Day theme, #BalanceforBetter, we’ve some wise words from Anita Shaw, a patent attorney at IBM. Anita founded and leads our IP & ME community for BAME professionals and their allies. She reflects on the importance of equality and inclusivity across the entire workforce, as well as upstream of the IP professions, whilst reminding us that “balance” is also relevant to the impact of work on our personal lives.
“Balance for Better” is applicable to so many areas of my work and life!
“Balance”, in terms of equality, is a critical factor to me. Being given an equal chance to try for a seat at the table, for new projects and opportunities – for myself, but also for any other person who wants to step up (regardless of the group(s) they identify with).
Gender balance in intellectual property law can be heavily dictated by the take-up of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at higher education levels. However, the leaning in towards or away from STEM is happening at an even younger age, so one aspect we all need to keep an eye on is balanced STEM education, as well as open and transparent career information at much earlier stages of schooling.
In terms of broader diversity, I also believe that we need to ensure that our workplaces are wholly inclusive to all in order to retain and promote talent and maximise chances for success e.g. in terms of culture; flexibility; and providing a range of role models/mentors to gain a balance of perspectives and skills.
The “…for Better” also raises a number of interesting points — diverse teams have been shown to actively progress the conversation (and bottom line!) and further, the clients and customers we serve in our professions are diverse by nature. Ultimately, for me, working in global teams with my colleagues, clients and customers makes life so much more interesting!
Finally, I could also take this theme and apply it to giving focus to work-life balance (or “blend”) – sometimes difficult to achieve and maintain in the legal and IP professions, but vital nonetheless.
What a powerful theme this year – I hope it generates some meaningful discussions!
What do you think “Balance for Better” means for you and those around you?
[We’ve been asked to point out that the views expressed here are Anita’s own.]