Page published on 27th January 2023
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On 17 January 2023, IP Inclusive and CIPA co-hosted a webinar entitled “Enhancing diversity in the patent profession: how can I help?” It aimed to help us identify ways in which we, as individuals, can give something back, by helping someone to find their way into a career in IP, who perhaps otherwise wouldn’t find themselves there.
We were joined by panellists from three charities, all eager for volunteers to help out with building opportunities for those in the EDI space, whether it be tutoring, mentoring or inspiring careers talks. We also heard from volunteers who told their personal stories.
A recording of the webinar can be accessed here, or read on for our summary of the highlights. And if you’d like to get involved with our Careers in Ideas outreach work, in particular our 2023 Summer of IP campaign, we’ve provided more information at the end of this post.
Lee Davies, Chief Executive of CIPA, chaired the discussion with the charity representatives:
- Luke McKelvey, Development Manager, In2scienceUK,
- Zindzi Sewell, Director – Programmes and Partnerships Lead, Generating Genius,
- Mary Skelton, Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator, The Access Project,
… and the patent professionals who’ve worked with these charities:
- Laura Ramsay, Partner, Dehns,
- Gwilym Roberts, Chair, Kilburn & Strode; CIPA Honorary Secretary, and
- Vanessa Stainthorpe, Partner, HGF.
THE ACCESS PROJECT
Every academic year The Access Project look for a large number of tutors for support, both in the STEM subjects and also in other subjects. They are partnered with 39 schools to assist young people, age 14-18, from disadvantaged backgrounds and help them gain access to top universities. These young people are self-selected, so are very motivated and thankful for the tutoring provided by volunteers and the extra support and mentoring provided by the charity staff members.
- One-to-one tutoring in a subject of your choice.
- One hour online tutorial, weekly.
- After school hours, ie Monday-Friday 4.30-7.30 pm, term time only.
- Dedicated online platform.
- Commitment for an entire academic year, with 15-20 tutorials over the year.
- Onboarding, training and resources provided – no tutoring experience needed.
- Reconnect with a subject you’re passionate about.
- Help a young person to reach their full potential and make a real difference to their future.
- Be a positive role model.
- Pay forward the support that you received as a student.
Gwilym has volunteered with The Access Project since 2020 and tutors in maths and physics at GCSE level. He’s really enjoyed getting back into this subject matter and bonding with the kids. The support from the charity is excellent and the time commitment very manageable. He’s found it really fun, fascinating and fulfilling.
Apply now for training over the Spring/Summer of 2023, ready to start tutoring in September.
In2scienceUK enables young people from low income backgrounds to access work experience placements and workshops in STEM careers. They work with young people on an individual basis and match them with STEM professionals who volunteer to provide two-week work placements and gain positive role models while undertaking work. Then the students receive follow-on support in the form of workshops and careers engagement activities to support their university selection and application. In2scienceUK supported over 700 young people last year and 50 of those were helped thanks to the IP sector.
There are many ways in which you can get involved, from hosting a work experience placement to volunteering in their CV reviewing service to provide feedback to students on their (anonymised) CVs. You can find out more here, and register here to attend a 45-minute online volunteer information session in February or March 2023.
Vanessa and HGF have worked with In2scienceUK for the last three years, providing both funding and contributions to panel discussions, as well as directly supporting 15 young people so far. They have found the experience rewarding.
Generating Genius supports young people from low income households and black heritage backgrounds to give them the foundations they need to access STEM careers. They run a number of programs aimed at students from year 8 to university graduates and there are many ways in which you or your organisation could get involved.
Their Junior Genius scholarships support young students from years 8 to 11, particularly in the north-east, with access to masterclasses at top universities, mentors and work experience opportunities. You can get involved in the pilot program by sponsoring one or more students, or by mentoring.
You can volunteer to support 6th form students by getting involved in a work experience or career mentoring program, or a university preparation program. You can also support university students by providing opportunities to experience IP careers.
If you have graduated from Oxford in the past five years, they are particularly keen to hear from you in connection with their STEM at Oxford programme. This supports students in applying to Oxford and they are looking for 30 volunteers to mentor students fortnightly over a 12-week period. Sign-up is from 1 March 2023.
Firms can also get involved by hosting Industry Challenge days for 6th form students, during which they complete Apprentice-style challenges. See here for more about how businesses can help.
Laura spoke on behalf of Dehns, who have been running a summer internship programme for several years. They have collaborated with Generating Genius in order to be introduced to a wider range of university students for their programme, including those who had previously never heard of careers in IP and who would otherwise never have heard of their programme. The students appreciated working on real cases and gaining a deeper understanding of the career, and were interested to learn of career opportunities outside London.
The value for Dehns was in being introduced to students from different backgrounds and with different experiences, so expanding their network. They also appreciated being asked by students about things that they had not otherwise yet considered, like access to a prayer room, and dress code in terms of piercings and tattoos, because they were then able to fully consider these things – and more – in order to foster more inclusivity and diversity in their workplace.
Q&A and closing remarks
There was a question around the business case for EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion), with the response that numerous reports have demonstrated improved financial performance in organisations with more diverse workforces.
It was discussed how change can seem to be very slow, particularly in larger organisations, but the reasons for this were explained in terms of making meaningful change, rather than merely box-ticking exercises. Foundation and substance is required for long-term change, so aim for a little progress each year. There is a real need to engage senior leadership and everyone in the business to change the culture, and there are no short cuts. Particularly when it comes to cultural change (the “inclusion” part of EDI), the importance of getting senior leadership buy-in and personal involvement cannot be underestimated. It was also noted that increasing diversity and inclusion go hand in hand – having a more diverse workforce helps to embed inclusion, and demonstrating an inclusive culture encourages diversity in the workforce.
Find out about IP Inclusive’s 2023 outreach campaign, Summer of IP, here. Its purpose is to raise awareness of IP-related careers, encourage a wider range of people to pursue them, and improve access to them by providing “taster” activities and guidance: see the Summer of IP prospectus. To register your interest in providing an event or activity, please download and complete this form (which also includes some ideas for taster sessions) and send it to [email protected].
PLEASE GET IN TOUCH
We would love to hear your thoughts, comments or suggestions about this article or the webinar itself. Please do get in touch with us by commenting below or via email to [email protected]. You can contact CIPA here.