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IP Inclusive AGM Roundup 2024

IP Inclusive AGM Roundup 2024

It’s that time of year again where likeminded IP professionals get together to celebrate the achievements and discuss the future developments of IP Inclusive, the industry initiative tasked with promoting and improving ED&I and mental wellbeing within the community. This year was also the first time the meeting was held in person since Covid, with a hybrid setup allowing for individuals to network both in person and via a video link. I travelled down to London whereas Pete attended online, giving us different perspectives of the meeting which we felt worked very well.

The meeting kicked off with Andrea Brewster giving a brief introduction and highlighting the importance of focusing on mental health and wellbeing on IPI’s list of priorities this year. In particular, men’s mental health. IP Inclusive has worked a lot this year with Jonathan’s Voice and LawCare, two fantastic mental health charities set up to help empower and encourage people to speak up about their struggles. As always, IP Inclusive takes the feedback from the community into account and moves at a pace it feels reflects the priorities of the professionals within it. There has been an encouraging amount of support for this particular topic, which hopefully is an indicator that individuals feel comfortable enough to open up and utilise the groups available to them.

We then moved on to hear from each IP Inclusive community on updates over the previous year and their plans moving forward throughout 2024. First up was IP & Me represented by their co-lead Bea Malacart. Bea talked about the ongoing successes of their online coffee mornings and hugely popular podcast, which they plan to continue moving forward. She also proposed the idea of establishing a directory showcasing individual talents and skillsets within the community, that others can look to for help and inspiration. Bea expressed she felt the IP & Me community was still fairly scattered and their hopes to create a more established group in the future, potentially through more events such as an in person get together planned for later in the year.

Chris Clarke took the floor to share the latest updates from IP Ability. The group was redefined in 2023, allowing different areas to focus on specific interests. They’ve organised a number of events and webinars on a broad variety of subjects, including information on digital accessibility run by Chris Naylor and his business Bnode. This was incredibly successful and led to members of the IP Inclusive management committee taking part in a number of training sessions on digital accessibility and the many resources available to us on line.

It’s been an exciting time for IPause, the community focused on (peri)menopause, which originally started a small working group and grew into a fully-fledged community earlier this year following a huge amount of interest and support. Jane Wainwright led the update and stressed the importance of the group in being able to voice a hidden issue that affects so many people and their surrounding network in all aspects of their life. They are in the process of developing and uploading blogs and information sources, which will be available on the IP Inclusive website shortly.

IP Futures, the community for early-stage IP professionals, was led by Fi Richardson. They have had some great in person events over the last year, and are hoping to continue this as well as hosting more events outside of London. They are also looking to recruit additional committee members, so please do get in touch if you’re interested in lending your support.

IP Out, one of IPI’s most established networks with representatives across a lot of the profession at all levels and sectors, voiced their concerns that they have been struggling with attendance at their in person educational events on an evening, so are looking at shifting to be either purely on line or take on more of ‘lunch and learn’ format. Isobel Barrie represented the group and stressed that a big area of focus currently is tackling negative bias towards the trans community and encouraging the entire profession to stand together against such a prevalent issue.

Lucy Coe, Women in IP lead, updated the meeting on the continuing successes of their online coffee mornings, a recent event on self-promotion being particularly popular and leading to the possibility of further events on the topic being organised for this year. The group were once again supporting the annual AIPLA Global Women in IP event which was held on Thursday 18th April, with communities coming together across the world to celebrate and champion the future leaders of the profession through the theme ‘Cultivating Leaders’. Last year the group underwent some restructuring with five focus groups being set up to help streamline organisation – ‘Socials’, ‘Mentoring’, ‘Career Guidance’, ‘Coffee Dates’, and ‘Events’. Lucy is also in the process of planning an annual Women in IP event for September/October with the main event in London and other events hoped to happen simultaneously in the regions. This format has worked well for them in the past, with Lucy noting that she feels participants enjoyed being ‘part of something bigger’.

Careers in Ideas, the community for those considering a career in IP and the individuals who support them, is going from strength to strength. The main focus of the update was the fantastic Summer of IP planned for 2024 following its success last year. A broad range of events were organised in 2023, including webinars, on line coffee dates, and firm led workshops allowing individuals potentially interested in a career in IP to really get a taste of what is involved. The programme had great feedback from both participants and organisers, and planning is well underway for this year with it hoping to once again be an innovative way of getting a more diverse intake into the profession.

The Mentoring Hub, the mentoring scheme developed by Careers in Ideas, has celebrated 135 successfully completed relationships to date, and has 100 participants currently in process with 54 mentees and 46 mentors. Carol Nyahasha happily announced that thanks to recent donations they have been able to increase participation further to 250. A welcome donation from Haseltine Lake Kempner also allowed for a new website to be developed to further promotion and awareness. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, or think that your firm could be a part of the Summer of IP, then please do get in touch with Careers in Ideas. They would welcome any form of support!

One area of IP Inclusive that unfortunately has not been getting as much support is the regional networks. A survey has been conducted to ascertain what people in the regions would like or need from a local community and it is hoped that a roadshow of events will be planned for later this year. One area that has bucked the trend however is Scotland, where David Blair enthused that their in person events have proved very productive and they are hoping to continue to increase their momentum back to a pre-Covid level. They are also focusing on increasing their signatories and growing their network in certain area of the profession, such as secretarial staff and inhouse professionals. This should be achieved in part by organising events at different times of the day that everyone can attend and investing on finetuning their communication and promotion of events.

We then heard from the advisory board and Ben Buchanan. The board held four meetings last year, one hybrid with members meeting in person as well as on line, and one meeting held jointly with the IPI management committee. They are hoping to improve their liaison between the board and the committee, as well as holding a hybrid regional meeting in the coming year. Ben recognised that the lack of support for regional committees is both a challenge and a priority, and wants to ensure that IPI has representatives from all backgrounds and areas.
Andrea finished the advisory board roundup by stating that its role as IPI’s ‘critical friend’ which gives both necessary support and pushback to ensure it is fulfilling its full potential and correctly serves the IP profession and its wants/needs. She stressed the importance of allyship and everyone’s role to inform and empower the communities. There has been an increase in sharing content and momentum which is very encouraging but one of the main factors that will enable further growth is donations, which IP Inclusive relies heavily upon to continue their work. If you or your firm are interested in supporting (or further supporting) the fantastic work the initiative does then you can donate here.

The meeting ended with participants attending breakout sessions where the main discussion was centred around the main value IP Inclusive brings to individuals in the IP community and what can be done to maximise on this. Some of the points made were the importance of allies being present at events and their ability to educate others on how to help support and empower. We suggested the idea of ‘Bring an Ally’ events which encourages attendance by those who might not necessarily felt they could attend by themselves or felt the event was not for them. Other points discussed were ensuring the communities remain relevant to reflect the needs of all, letting individuals feel like they are part of a larger community through connected events, and working alongside firm’s existing resources to maximise education and support.

As always, the event was a pleasure to attend and it was encouraging to hear all the fantastic progress that has been made over the past year – Phillipa Holland, Principal Consultant

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