The article below, by our Lead Executive Officer Andrea Brewster OBE, first appeared in the Mewburn Ellis publication Forward (see here). Coining the term “innoversity”, Andrea explains why diverse teams are so important for businesses in the IP sector, where innovation is fundamental.
Show me a business leader who doesn’t care about diversity, and I’ll show you a business in decline. Nowhere is that more true than in the IP sector.
Intellectual property is fuelled by innovation. And as is widely recognised, more diverse teams are more innovative. A broader range of perspectives and approaches helps to counter groupthink, confirmation bias, entrenchment and other such cognitive barriers to effective decision-making.
But there is more to it than that. Our clients are also diverse and innovative. Surely we should offer them creative and broad-minded professionals, who can relate to, and keep pace with, their developing businesses and technologies?
There are of course other incentives for embracing diversity:
- The IP system is international; it’s a framework in which research, law and commerce can thrive together across national and cultural boundaries. Our clients and suppliers are thus also both nationally and culturally diverse. Our workforce should understand and reflect that.
- Technology is evolving at speed, and that shapes our own as well as our clients’ businesses. With increased connectivity and data access, with AI and with growing environmental awareness, come new threats to our working practices and profit models, but importantly also new opportunities. We need to be agile in our responses. Again, more diverse and innovative teams will fare better.
- The IP professions demand intelligent, multi-talented individuals. It is not always easy to recruit and retain those people. Embracing diversity allows us to widen the pool we recruit from, giving access to the best candidates regardless of their background. And a more diverse, inclusive and creative workplace is more likely to attract and nurture the colleagues we value.
Diversity will, quite simply, help us survive. Not just our individual businesses, but the IP sector as a whole, must embrace diversity to remain credible, relevant and successful. The more diverse our intake, the more optimistic we can feel about the future.
Add to this the fact that both clients and potential recruits are – quite reasonably – starting to ask questions about diversity credentials and workplace inclusivity, not to mention that people are happier in more inclusive teams, which in turn makes them more productive and more loyal, and you soon realise that in the IP sector, there is an irrefutable business case for diversity.
Oh, and also, it’s the morally right thing to do.
We are grateful to Mewburn Ellis for sharing access to the article. Forward is described as “a biannual publication celebrating the best of innovation and exploration from an intellectual property firm that has been forward-looking for more than 150 years”: you can sign up to read the full magazine here.