For IP Inclusive Week 2019, we’re embarking on an ambitious but vital new project. We want to gather some basic, bench-marking data on current diversity levels in the IP sector.
It’s a “toe-in-the-water” kind of project, ahead of an event we’ve organised on 5 December 2019 to explore in more depth the benefits and challenges of D&I (diversity and inclusion) data gathering.
Please help us by completing the survey – it only takes a few minutes. It’s for all types of IP professionals (see Questions 1 to 5); it’s completely anonymous; and it’ll be open from 4 to 24 November 2019 inclusive.
Click on the space probe image below to take the survey. (Do it now, before you forget!)
Read on for more information about why we’re doing this survey…
Our 2019 plans, derived from our 22 January annual meeting, included “starting conversations on the pros and cons of D&I data gathering”. We set ourselves the target of obtaining at least some basic data of our own, to feed into our 2020 plans.
In previous years there’s been some reluctance to do this, but in 2019 the time felt right. As IP Inclusive gathers momentum, it’s important that we also acquire evidence not only to inform our future plans and priorities, but also to help evaluate the impact of our work.
Many of our supporters and Charter signatories are already gathering D&I data; some have been courageous enough to report it publicly and hold themselves to a commitment to improve. But the process can be challenging, particularly for smaller organisations where anonymity might be harder to preserve and where data trends inevitably have less statistical significance. This is where IP Inclusive can help. If we collect data from the IP sector as a whole, it’s statistically more meaningful. It also, since it covers a larger group, and is independent of any specific employer, provides greater comfort in terms of anonymity and confidentiality; there is no risk of a person’s career prospects depending on whether or not, or the type of, information they provide. This voluntarily given data can be interrogated and reported without identifying individual participants.
We understand people’s objections to, and concerns about, D&I data reporting. We appreciate not everyone likes the idea of divulging sensitive personal information. And we know that some people feel strongly that characteristics such as gender, ethnicity and sexuality shouldn’t matter; that such things are irrelevant to their work as an IP professional.
And yet, when we talk to people in our networking and support communities, we realise there is growing evidence that they do matter. For people who don’t enjoy the privilege of being in the majority – of being the “norm” against which and for which so many things are evaluated; of being able to “bring their whole self to work” rather than hiding certain aspects – there is still work to be done in making the IP sector more inclusive.
For the sake of these people at least, IP Inclusive would like a better grasp of the proportions involved, and of how diverse (or not) the sector is. Only with that data can we understand the problems and justify our work; evaluate its success over time; and target our efforts to the areas and people most in need.
The business case
Love it or hate it, however sceptical you are about it, D&I data reporting is becoming more common. Clients ask for it in pitches. Regulators are starting to request it. Potential recruits (including lateral hires) want to know too. Existing staff will also take an interest, and place their loyalties accordingly.
These types of data are not gathered in order to be intrusive. Nor are they intended to be used to discriminate. IP Inclusive is proposing to gather D&I data in a genuine attempt to understand and improve the IP landscape. Because where diversity levels are low, innovation levels tend to be low, and so in turn is business productivity and agility; staff become difficult to attract and retain; and the sector struggles to remain credible, relevant and successful.
That’s why we’re asking you to contribute to this survey. So that we can help individual IP professionals, their employers, and ultimately the IP sector as a whole, to face a more diverse and inclusive future with confidence.
As we’ve said, the survey is voluntary and anonymous. You can skip any questions you’re not comfortable with. You can provide comments at the end to help us make our next survey better.
And it’s important to emphasise that the survey is for all IP professionals, whatever their career level or role. That includes people who work with other professionals in the IP sector, for example in business support roles or as suppliers. You’ll see from Question 2 just how widely we’d like to reach.
It will only take about 7 minutes to complete. So please do it now, before you forget.
You’ll be able to access the survey from Monday 4 November 2019 (a week before IP Inclusive Week starts) to Sunday 24 November inclusive.
Let’s continue the conversation…
Now we’ve started the conversation, let’s build on it. We’ll be reporting the results of this initial survey at our 5 December event on D&I data gathering. Hosted by Wynne-Jones IP at their new offices in Gloucester, it’s a seminar and workshop to explore the benefits of D&I data reporting, the challenges, the legal issues, and what IP Inclusive and its supporters should be doing. You’re warmly invited, and you can register here.
We also hope to repeat the survey for IP Inclusive Week next year, and by then to have a higher take-up throughout the IP professions, to help us chart our ongoing progress.