In today’s post for International Women’s Day (which is on Friday 8 March, with the theme #BalanceforBetter), we hear from two IP solicitors. Megan Briggs is a member of IP Inclusive’s Women in IP committee and a senior solicitor at Burness Paull; she is relatively new to the IP professions, having finished her traineeship in 2014 and moved to her current role in IP litigation in January 2015. She tells us of the trends she’s observed that are helping to create a better balance for everyone.
Carolyn Pepper, meanwhile, is an IP solicitor and partner at Reed Smith and Chair of the Law Society’s Intellectual Property Law Committee. With more than 20 years’ experience working in commercial – including IP – disputes, Carolyn reflects on the drivers for the improvements she’s witnessed.
Whilst there is still a great deal of progress to be made, for people of all genders, it’s good to hear such upbeat perspectives from both these professionals.
As someone who is relatively early on in their legal career, with female colleagues at the same level and having attended university with a good male/female split, it is tricky to say how the balance has shifted since I qualified. However, it is clear that the way in which we are working is moving to a more flexible approach in a bid to allow careers to flourish whilst balancing modern life, children, caring for relatives, commuting etc.
And Carolyn writes:
Since I first started working in IP more than twenty years ago, the arguments for gender diversity have become louder and ever more emphatic. Studies now show that companies with better gender splits are more successful. Having gender diversity within an organisation is now seen as a business imperative and not just “the right thing to do” as perhaps it was twenty years ago. There are fantastic groups like the 30% club women who are pushing towards real, measurable change which benefits men and women. For example, men now have the opportunity to share parental leave and flexible working, which is often invaluable to parents and others with care responsibilities. I see the most promising young men around me leaving the office in the evening saying that they want to go home and put their children to bed. That was virtually unheard of twenty years ago and is great for everyone. Flexibility brings with it equality and benefits for everyone.