Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter is a voluntary code of practice for IP professionals to demonstrate their awareness of and support for the diversity agenda. We are proud of the wide range of signatories we have so far, including patent and trade mark attorney practices; law firms; barristers’ chambers; in-house IP departments; membership bodies such as CIPA and CITMA; the IPO; and other professionals involved in IP, for example IP recruitment specialists and database providers. This truly is a pan-professional scheme.
The Charter is couched in high-level terms so as to make compliance achievable even by smaller organisations. Signing up, using a simple form (see button above), involves a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and the appointment of an EDI Officer. Through the resultant network of officers, we distribute updates, information and calls to action, and are developing a community by which advice, ideas and best practices can be shared and encouraged across the IP professions. Regional networks of Charter signatories are also being created.
At the moment we have six communities to help provide support and networking opportunities for groups of people and their allies working within the IP professions: IP & ME for ethnic minority IP professionals; IP Ability for disabled professionals and carers; IP Futures for early-career IP professionals; the IP Non-traditional Family Network for parents in non-traditional family set-ups; IP Out, which supports the LGBT+ community; and Women in IP.
Each of these organises its own social, networking, training and awareness-raising events, and provides a safe space in which its members can share their experiences and seek guidance and support from like-minded professionals. Each has its own mailing list and LinkedIn group to help you keep up to date with its activities and events.
Importantly, all six communities are open to allies as well: the Women in IP community, for example, is for people of all genders.
We encourage IP professionals to adopt better EDI practices. We collaborate to train and support them in those practices, to raise awareness of relevant issues, and to influence equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) levels throughout the IP sector.
We therefore aim to provide cost-effective and accessible training for IP professionals in EDI-related issues. Our events are recognised by the IP Regulation Board (IPReg) as CPD for registered patent and trade mark attorneys. Over the last two years they have covered a wide range of topics, including unconscious bias, workplace behaviour, mental health, issues for women and for LGBT+ professionals, and the business case for diversity. Visit our events page to see what else is in the pipeline.
Our news and features page also carries regular posts which provide news, information and comment on the EDI issues of the day.
At the heart of our awareness-raising activities is IP Inclusive Week, which we held for the first time in November 2018. It provides a focus for activity on all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion, bringing together events run by many of our Charter signatories, supporters and partners as well as efforts from individuals and organisations to share and promote our work.
We have an ever-growing library of resources to help IP professionals to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. They include guidance on best practices, template policies, toolkits, materials to use in your in-house EDI activities, and links to other helpful tools and information.
Working with the charity Jonathan’s Voice, we’ve put together a dedicated web page on mental health and wellbeing, to provide support and information for IP professionals and their employers. We also work closely with LawCare, a charity providing mental health support for the wider legal sector.
One of the best ways to make the IP professions more diverse is to widen the pool from which we recruit. Under a separate banner, Careers in Ideas, we have created resources to raise awareness of IP-related careers and encourage recruits from a greater range of backgrounds. These resources are targeted at school, college and university students as well as their teachers and careers advisers. They include posters, information pamphlets, case studies and a dedicated Careers in Ideas website with personal stories by “Ideas people” from a range of IP professions and its own “opportunities board”.
Careers in Ideas is at its most effective when IP professionals and their employers use the resources in their own outreach and recruitment activities. We are building a network of organisations and individual contacts, both within the IP sector and beyond, through whom the resources can be disseminated, or who might collaborate with us in opening up the IP professions to a wider pool of recruits. If you would like to be part of that network, or can help in any way to spread the word about the IP professions, we would love to hear from you.