Diversity in IP – Why Diversity Matters
The Diversity in IP Live forum organised by the World IP Review was held last week, giving virtual attendees the opportunity to discuss issues surrounding equality, diversity and inclusion in the IP and wider legal community. The keynote guest speaker was Tim Moss of the UK IPO, an organisation that really has been championing change in the industry, including recently completing the huge feat of modifying the Manual of Patent Practice to reflect gender neutrality. Tim commented that ‘IP is universal and underpins almost every aspect of modern life’, really highlighting the importance of keeping inclusivity at the centre of developments in the IP world. He explained how the IPO have been looking within in order to help shape their EDI strategy, including reviewing their recruitment processes and internal policies, how they present themselves externally, supporting their staff in voicing their own views and looking at data and what it can tell them (ratio of staff from different backgrounds etc.).
I unfortunately could only attend one other session on the agenda but it was equally as engaging as Tim’s opening address. Susi Fish from Boult Wade Tennant and Meghan Rooney from Accenture discussed the differences in addressing ED&I in smaller firms versus large multinational organisations and how they can work together to implement change. Meghan stressed the importance for diversity to be recognised due to it being critical for business growth and how Accenture have implemented committees for staff members from a variety of backgrounds and encourage open lines of communication with all outside counsel to help provide a better dialogue for all. This can be more difficult in a smaller firm with less resources, however Susi used IP Inclusive as an excellent example of how individuals can gain a sense (or an additional sense) of belonging if they feel they are perhaps underrepresented in their firm.
The fact this forum and many others like it thanks to initiatives such as IP Inclusive shows that ED&I is being recognised as a topic that needs to be addressed and conversation surrounding it needs to be encouraged. I hope to attend more, hopefully in person, in the near future and keep the dialogue going!