Through our new Careers in Ideas task force, we’ve been looking at ways to improve social mobility both at the gateway to, and within, the IP professions. We’ll be organising an event soon to explore best practices in outreach, recruitment and selection procedures that help to erode the stereotypes and biases that still seem to challenge our socio-economic diversity.

Julie Barrett, chartered UK patent attorney and European patent attorney and leader of the IP-focused business and career consultancy PurposiveStep, tells us why she’s so passionate about this project – and asks for your help in generating relevant stories and case studies.

Julie writes:

At the IP Inclusive annual meeting in January 2019, I suggested that a neglected area of awareness-raising amongst our profession has been that of an apparent bias towards/preponderance of people from relatively well-off backgrounds and high-ranked schools/universities, regardless of innate ability and potential to become a superlative IP professional.

In one of my earlier blogs, I mentioned my own starting point: ‘working class’; SW London/north Surrey accent; local primary school; fortunate scholarship to a GDST (Girls’ Day School Trust) school; subsequent unhealthy neglect at that school (I had no desire or ability to be either a medic or a tennis star); taught old/wrong syllabus for one of the A levels; couldn’t afford private tutor to do retakes, so ended up at my 5th choice (ex-poly) university; and so on. A miracle therefore (with thanks to the enlightened recruiters at the then-Wellcome Foundation Ltd) that I was ‘allowed in’ to the profession at all! I notice that, in these respects, not a lot seems to have changed in the last 40 years.

So, Andrea Brewster (IP Inclusive Leader), Sheila Wallace (Marks and Clerk) and I have formed a small “sub”-task force with the aims of:

  1. Producing some ideas and guidance to those (especially if involved in recruitment processes) who would also like to reduce socio-economic barriers to entering the IP professions;
  2. Raising awareness of the issue within the IP professions and showing how lowering these barriers can benefit our businesses and organisations, including airing some case studies (examples of people in the profession) demonstrating these benefits and ways this can be done; and
  3. Reaching outside our profession to potential new recruits, specifically to those who may be just what our profession needs in terms of new recruits, but who are presently feeling the barriers or having some difficulty with the hurdles resulting from the socio-economic aspects of their lives. Such outreach would be supported by items 1 and 2 above.

We are presently planning a springtime event (details of which will be released soon) at which we can explore and progress these aims. In the meantime, we are asking anyone for whom any of the above touches a nerve and who would like in some way (however small it may seem) to be involved, to get in touch with us. We would especially like to hear from anyone who, like myself, feels that they did or do have to ‘do battle’ in some way as a result of their socio-economic circumstances, and who would like to share some of their story to enlighten those for whom these are new ideas/issues and also encourage others who may feel in the same boat. If you would feel comfortable speaking in public about your story, then please also flag that to us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Julie Barrett

Business & Career Consulting
for those in Intellectual Property


 [email protected]

+44 (0)7740-946161


Page published on 27th March 2019
Page last modified on 29th March 2019
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