Bringing in a more diverse pool of recruits is a key part of the drive for increased diversity and inclusion in the IP professions. But of course it doesn’t sit alone. All our different strands of work have to be progressed together if we’re to see lasting change. And importantly, they need engagement from all parts of the IP sector – across all roles, in both under- and over-represented groups, and at all career levels.
That’s why we’re particularly excited this week to announce the creation of a new high-level diversity think tank that brings together senior leaders from the private sector patent and trade mark professions. We now know that diversity can be championed in the highest ranks, in partners’ meetings and boardrooms, to ensure it gets the recognition, and the hands-on support, that it deserves.
Of significance for Careers in Ideas is that many of the think tank’s priorities relate to widening access to the IP professions, both through careers outreach and by ensuring a level playing field at the point of entry.
Here’s the story:
Senior representatives from over 30 patent and trade mark practices convened on 10 November 2020 to establish a new high-level “think tank” devoted to improving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in their sector.
Instigated by IP Inclusive and supported by the membership bodies CIPA and CITMA, this pioneering project brought together senior and managing partners to share ideas and best practices and agree how to use their status, influence and connections to improve D&I for all. The collaboration underlines the patent and trade mark professions’ commitment to diversity, and recognises the need for leadership from the most senior levels to create genuine, lasting changes to working practices and cultures.
The meeting identified five areas where think tank members could collaborate to spearhead positive change in the sector:
- Adopting and encouraging best practices in internal systems and procedures (eg for recruitment, performance evaluation and reward, training and career development)
- Raising awareness of the patent and trade mark professions among a wider range of potential recruits, in particular those in currently under-represented groups
- Widening access to the two professions through our recruitment processes and more creative onboarding and support schemes
- Improving the quality of diversity data available in the two professions and its use to benchmark and incentivise progress
- Increasing engagement with D&I issues among colleagues, at all levels of the organisation
Participants will next agree some more detailed implementation measures, based on the 10 November discussions, by which to progress these objectives.
The think tank included representatives from AA Thornton, Abel + Imray, Appleyard Lees, Barker Brettell, Beck Greener LLP, Boult Wade Tennant, Carpmaels & Ransford LLP, D Young & Co, EIP Europe, Forresters, Greaves Brewster, Haseltine Lake Kempner, HGF, Keltie, J A Kemp LLP, Kilburn & Strode, Marks & Clerk LLP, Mathys & Squire, Maucher Jenkins, Mewburn Ellis, Murgitroyd & Company, Page White and Farrer, Phillips & Leigh LLP, Potter Clarkson LLP, Reddie & Grose LLP, Swindell & Pearson, TLIP, Urquhart-Dykes & Lord, WP Thompson and Wynne-Jones IP, as well as the membership bodies CIPA, CITMA and FICPI-UK. These organisations have pledged their support for the think tank and the continued involvement of their senior representatives, in order to champion D&I from the highest levels of the patent and trade mark professions.
The meeting chair, CIPA Honorary Secretary Gwilym Roberts from Kilburn & Strode, said of the new think tank:
For diversity and inclusivity to thrive they have to be driven from the top. This was an amazing first step by a bunch of senior leaders who are passionate about making their organisations and our profession a byword for excellence in D&I.
CITMA President Richard Goddard added:
We are delighted to be involved in this initiative. It was very encouraging to hear from a senior group of people with practical new ideas and a desire to create a more diverse and inclusive profession. We look forward to working closely with them all.
CIPA Chief Executive Lee Davies said:
Thanks to IP Inclusive and a superb voluntary effort, the IP professions have come a long way in a short time on diversity and inclusion. There is so much more to do and CIPA is delighted to support senior leaders as they work together to make IP a diverse and inclusive place to work for current and future professionals.
Andrea Brewster, Lead Executive Officer of IP Inclusive, commented:
We’ve seen huge support for diversity and inclusion from across the patent and trade mark professions. This new think tank, underpinned by collaboration and shared goals, allows change to be both driven and nurtured from the top, by people with the power to shape the whole sector’s future.
The think tank welcomes new participants. If your organisation is not yet represented, but you feel you would be able to contribute to the above objectives, please contact IP Inclusive’s Lead Executive Officer Andrea Brewster ([email protected]).