It can be hard to be “diverse” and “inclusive” when there’s only one of you.  So what can the sole practitioner, or the one-person in-house IP department, do to mark IP Inclusive Week?

And importantly, what can the bigger organisations do to help?
Here are some ideas from us.  But please let us know if you have others.  Or indeed if any of these don’t quite hit the mark and you can help us improve on them.

  • Get involved with our support groups

Join one or more of our networking and support communities, or if you’ve already done that, get involved in something they’re organising for IP Inclusive Week.

The whole point of these groups is that they provide IP sector-specific support, so they’re an ideal way of meeting like-minded people even if your own organisation’s too small to have its own support groups.  Use them to share ideas, for support and guidance, and if necessary to help fight your corner.  And, of course, to make new friends.

All of the support groups are open to “allies” as well.  So, all genders are welcome to join the Women in IP network, for example.  Each of them has a dedicated page on this site, where you can sign up to their mailing lists to keep abreast of what they’re up to.

  • Reach out

Reach out to another sole practitioner or small department nearby.  Make it your goal in IP Inclusive Week to meet up with someone in a similar position to you, to exchange ideas and experiences.

Or be cheeky and contact one of the bigger firms in your region to ask if they’re doing something you could get involved with.

  • Come to one of our events

We appreciate that it can be tricky to take time out of the office, but if you can, try to come along to one of our events in and around IP Inclusive Week.  Our events are usually free, and open to all IP professionals no matter what their working environment.  There are more details below of two we have planned; keep an eye on this blog for others.

You can also sign up to our mailing list to keep abreast of everything that’s happening at IP Inclusive.

  • Help set up a regional network

Not everyone can reach events based in London, and although we hold some elsewhere in the country, we know that too many of our IP Inclusive activities currently take place in the capital.  We’re working on this by trying to set up regional networks of Charter signatories, as a focus for more local events and activities and to make it easier for signatories of all shapes and sizes to support one another and to share both best practices and resources.

So if you can help to establish one of these networks in your region, get in touch and we’ll connect you with other Charter signatories nearby.

  • Help us increase diversity upstream of the professions

Through our Careers in Ideas outreach project, we’re trying to raise awareness of IP-related careers among students and careers advisers.  The aim is to help increase diversity within the IP professions by widening the pool that we recruit from.  So if you can, make use of the excellent Careers in Ideas resources (there’s a presentation, a leaflet and a poster, all downloadable for free here) and offer a careers talk to a local school, college or university.  Try to pick somewhere in a less privileged area, perhaps, where students are less likely to have heard of the IP professions.

Or why not commit to taking in a work experience student for a week, again ideally from a less privileged background?  Many educational establishments would be delighted to get a call from someone offering an opportunity like that.  And it can be excellent fun having somebody new around the office for a week – hard work, perhaps, but inspiring too.

  • Write a blog post

We love posting suggestions and comments from our supporters on our news and features page.  You could write a piece about what IP Inclusive means to you, and/or about particular issues for a small firm or department, so that other IP professionals in a similar position know that they’re not alone in the challenges that they face.

  • And for bigger organisations…

And finally, if you’re in a bigger organisation, please reach out to people in smaller firms and departments – including sole practitioners – in your area.  Invite them to join one of your in-house events.  It’s an excellent networking opportunity for both sides, and a good way to widen your perspectives as well to build a true sense of community within the IP sector – where we all need to help one another.

Events in the pipeline:

Monday 5 November, 5.30 pm: IP Out event, with a talk by Lord Chris Smith (the new Chair of IPReg) reflecting on a lifetime of progress in LGBT+ equality.

Thursday 22 November, 5.30 pm: Women in IP event on flexible working (all genders welcome).

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