Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

1. The IP Federation’s commitment to DEI

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is central to the work of the IP Federation and its members. We are committed to making the intellectual property (IP) professions more inclusive for all those who have the necessary aptitude, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability, wealth or background.

2. IP Federation DEI working group

The IP Federation has created an internal working group dedicated to the furtherance of diversity and inclusion initiatives amongst its members, chaired by Gordon Harris (IPIM). Several of the working group’s members are either individual members of the reconstituted IPIM or the advisory board. The connection between the organisations therefore remains at the heart of the IP Federation’s work in this area.

The objectives of the working group are as follows:

  1. Improve the image that we project to people
  2. Reach new people and places, widening the range of educational and training establishments we engage with, including targeting students before they make career-limiting choices.
  3. Recruit more fairly, both on advertising/outreach and objective decision making.
  4. Address financial barriers to entry and progression – finding ways to offer financial support.
  5. Explore bold systemic changes to entry requirements, for example apprenticeship.
  6. Collect data to help targeting outreach work.
  7. Work together as a sector, including with government agencies, to make the measures we take more effective.
  8. Work with outreach charities and organisations to enable us to reach the right people.

The working group has been particularly active in the following areas (see below):

3. IP Inclusive

The IP Federation and its members are proud to support the IP Inclusive initiative and are committed to adhering to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of employment practice, including recruitment and retention, career development and workplace ethos. The forty-strong task force leading IP Inclusive includes representatives of the IP Federation.

IP Inclusive

As one of its founding members, the IP Federation has a longstanding association with IP Inclusive. In 2021, members of the IP Inclusive Management Board (IPIM), including the IP Federation, agreed to a reconstitution of IPIM with individual rather than organisational members in order to give IP Inclusive greater autonomy to achieve its objectives. However, this change does not mean that the link between the IP Federation and IP Inclusive is now any less strong. The IP Federation continues to be a critical friend and to provide related support to IP Inclusive.

4. IP Inclusive Charter and Senior Leaders’ Pledge

The members of the IP Federation DEI working group who are active in IP Inclusive have been working towards creating a version of the IP Inclusive Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter that underpins its activities and which allows IP Federation members to be able to sign up with confidence. A key object in getting IP Federation members signed up to the IP Inclusive Charter, as well as encouraging strong diversity policies within our member companies, is to enable them to use their leverage with professional firms that they instruct to drive diversity and inclusion across the whole of the IP profession. As instructors of IP professionals – patent attorneys, solicitors or barristers – IP Federation members are in a strong position to require positive diversity and inclusion policies in the firms they instruct and to require sight of key metrics to assess performance.

The group has also focused upon the Senior Leaders’ Pledge. This has been an initiative of IP Inclusive which has been very successful with IP professionals working in private practice. It comprises a series of personal commitments to be made by senior leaders in an organisation to their actions to improve diversity and inclusion. IP Federation members thought that a pledge specifically designed for in house IP professionals would provide flexibility for them to work with their employers’ own diversity policies and strategies while providing relevance and focus for them.. A new Senior Leaders’ Pledge for leaders of departments in larger organisations, including our IP Federation members, has been agreed. This will allow our members to demonstrate their personal commitment to diversity and inclusion.

5. Outreach projects

Outreach projects supported by the IP Federation including In2scienceUK and the Careers in Ideas Mentor programme.

In2scienceUK is an organisation committed to promoting social mobility and diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their potential through life-changing opportunities that give them insights into STEM careers and research and boosts their skills and confidence.

The IP Federation has continued to support outreach activities that aim to promote and widen access to STEM careers and the IP professions. IP Inclusive’s Careers in Ideas mentoring scheme was developed to help individuals interested in careers in the IP professions by pairing would-be recruits with mentors. Members of the IP Federation DEI working group have acted as mentors for this excellent initiative.

The IP Federation continues to support outreach activities that aim to promote and widen access to STEM careers and the IP professions. Recent events include:

  • In2scienceUK Workshop on Intellectual Property Careers (19 August 2022)
  • STEM Women UK Engineering Event (22 September 2022)

6. Current projects 2023

In 2023 a number of projects are taking place:

  • DEI Best Practice Workshop – this workshop will explore the policies and practices followed by our members and those of their suppliers to work towards shared best practices where possible.
  • Careers in Ideas Summer of IP – we will be running a Working in Industry online event.
  • MIP Intellectual Property and Innovation Summit – we will be leading a session on DEI in Industry IP departments.

7. Diversity, equity and inclusion in the future

It is the objective of the DEI working group to continue to use its objectives as a guide for its work in this vitally important area. While we have achieved a huge amount in recent years, despite all circumstances, there is still plenty more to be done. We welcome the support of IP Federation members in that task.