In this guest blog Jayne Nation, Commercial Director of Wynne-Jones IP, shares some best practices for achieving a more diverse, balanced and inclusive team. This is a great follow-up to our March blog posts on #BalanceforBetter to mark International Women’s Day (see our News and Features page).
We’d love to hear what your organisation is doing to champion diversity and inclusivity: do get in touch. Also, watch out for IP Inclusive events later this year covering best practices for diverse and inclusive recruitment; diversity and inclusive leadership for senior IP professionals; and the value of data collection. Details to follow on our Events page.
There was once a time where many careers, including intellectual property, were perceived as predominantly male professions. Unlike other industries such as creative and education, its image has been notoriously clouded with male-focused misconceptions, often due to its links to the legal industry and association with science.
Over the last few years, IP professionals and firms across the globe have worked to dismiss archaic stereotypes, eradicating the notion that women aren’t attracted to the scientific and legal fields.
How has this changed?
The hard work has paid off, with recent figures from the Wise Campaign demonstrating that almost one million core STEM roles are now occupied by women. For example, at Wynne-Jones IP, we’re proud to say that our business is balanced. 57% of our 2018 recruits were women, with 85% of our team coming from non-Oxbridge institutions. According to Wise, women also now make up 43.2% of the total science professional workforce, reaching 60,039 in 2018 from 57,371 in 2017, the figures showed.
While the profession has made huge changes to achieve parity and welcome women into the field, it’s vital that we do not lose sight of our male workforce if we’re going to achieve true balance that represents our talented and progressive industry.
Why is diversity crucial to IP?
As an industry which is reliant on innovation, our strengths lie in creating a more inclusive and balanced workforce, which is brimming with a variety of different perspectives and ideas, from a range of individuals. Whether this embraces inclusivity of gender, ethnicity, educational background, sexuality, or experience, better balance is certainly a strength within this field.
Here are some of our top tips for encouraging inclusivity…
- Innovative recruitment to attract top applicants
We believe that the key to achieving greater balance begins at recruitment level, and this is a practice we encourage across our four offices in Cardiff, London, Cheltenham and Telford.
This could mean widening the scope when it comes to searching for applicants, for example engaging with a range of different universities across the country or embracing media tactics or social media campaigns to spread the word.
- Annual staff surveys to assess balance
In some firms, particularly larger ones, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when it comes to your employees. We’d suggest annual internal surveys, assessing gender, ethnicity, and educational background. This helps us identify any gaps that need closing within the company, while also giving our employees to talk about what we can do to improve.
- Recognising and supporting potential – is there a disparity between junior and senior staff at the firm?
If there is a clear gender divide in senior levels across the business, it may be time to assess why. Not all divisions in senior roles are gender driven; it may simply be that the most talented and capable people were selected. However, if there is a pattern of this over a number of years, it could point to a lack of recognition or even a lack of support to achieve more highly within the company.
If this is a trend which has been identified it may be worth speaking with male and female staff to identify their opportunities and find ways to support them in doing so.
While there is still more work to be done to create true balance across the field, we’re proud to say that we are always looking for new ways to diversify our teams and create a happy, welcoming and inclusive culture.