IP Inclusive AGM Roundup
Fellows and Associates has been a keen member and participant of the IP Inclusive community since the early days of its conception; attending many of their networking events both virtually and in person, contributing articles to their website and even sitting on their Advisory Board. The initiative is an award-winning network of IP professionals working together to make the community more inclusive, diverse, open and fair. We recently had the pleasure of attending their AGM discussing updates and achievements over the past year and participating in breakout sessions highlighting areas further focus was needed in the coming year.
The meeting began with a brief overview of the year by Andrea Brewster, including the expansion of the executive team, the pending appointment of four new members, and the successful introduction of an intern – something they’re looking to continue with again this year. The year has also seen the establishment of some exciting new additions to the IP Inclusive tool belt including:
- Inclusivity Unlocked!, a scheme offering events and resources focused on workplace inclusivity following Covid-19 lockdowns
- The Careers in Ideas Summer of IP campaign, hosting a variety of events and opportunities over Summer 2023 for individuals to experience what a career in IP might look like
- A new community for menopause support established late last year under the Inclusivity Unlocked! banner
- Further focus and resources assigned to how the initiative can impact and help other non-fee earner members of the community such as IP paralegals
We then heard from each of the IP Inclusive communities, offering an insight into the fantastic work each group has achieved over the past year.
IP & Me
Monifa Phillips and Josh McLennon covered the year’s updates, having really invested in breathing life back into the group, with new roles established, new members joining and a series of successful events including a coffee morning series – the next one being on Friday 12th May.
It’s been an incredibly busy year for IP Ability with webinars, collaborating on events with other IP Inclusive communities, and writing articles on compelling and important subjects. The group also challenged the current EQE structure, proposing changes and pushing for candidates to sit their exams in a more enjoyable setting. The work received a really encouraging and positive response, which is fantastic news for those preparing for their exams in the coming future. Upcoming events will hopefully include arranging a series of coffee dates to help normalise conversation and the review and release of their survey data. Marianne Privett led the update, announcing that they are looking to streamline the community structure given that, although positively the committee has grown quite rapidly to include a broad range of members, it is difficult to coordinate in its current state.
The group for early-stage IP professionals has also celebrated a year filled with events. Group advocate Sanam Habib is hopeful that, although most have been hybrid, more in person meetups will be organised in the future. The virtual element will also remain to facilitate the impressive number of international attendees. One of IP Futures success stories of their past year is the ‘What I Would Tell My Younger Self’ series in which more experienced members of the profession pass on advice and wisdom based on how their career has developed. They also collaborated with Jonathan’s Voice, a mental health charity affiliated closely with the IP community, and ran events with a number of other IP Inclusive groups.
IP Non-Traditional Family Network
Janine Swarbrick updated the group on the community for people in solo parent families, blended families, adoptive families, LGBTQ+ families, other non-traditional families in the UK IP professions, and their allies. The network is keen to organise joint events with other groups in order to lend their perspective and help challenge the narrative on what it means to be part of a non-traditional family. Janine explained that members fit in more than one diversity box which can be difficult to separate out, so it would be a great idea to join forces with the other communities.
Tom Leonard was the representative for the community for LGBTQ+ and their allies, which ran a successful charity pub quiz raising around £1,000 for Outside Project – something they plan to put on again. They are also championing trans people and their rights, with Darren Smyth drafting a piece which received almost universal support and they are also planning another trans event this year based on this current success and momentum.
Women in IP
The group ran their first successful hybrid annual event and chose to have an overarching theme to run across all of their events over the past year. The theme was based on the book ‘The Authority Gap’, informing the main panel, book club and a series of coffee dates. Susi Fish revealed this year’s draft theme is ‘Back to Basics’ focusing on women during their Early, Mid and Senior career stages.
The pandemic and the resulting hybrid working setup for most IP firms resulted in the regional networks struggling to organise a huge amount for their calendar this year. Jen Unsworth, representative for the Midlands network, and Rachel Gillan, representative for the Scottish network, highlighted how they have been trying to provide support to professionals outside of London. Jen talked about their collaborations with other IP Inclusive communities and mental health charities Jonathan’s Voice and Illuminate, holding a mental health refresher course which had a healthy attendance from both large and smaller firms. Rachel said that the Scottish network focused on an extremely successful in-person event, as well as hybrid events and hopefully future collaborations which help broaden the networks of people who came into the profession during lockdown. Both hoped for more hybrid events in the future, allowing for greater attendance, and pushed for ideas on how we can reach out to the regional communities.
We next heard from Carol Nyahasha from the Careers in Ideas Mentoring Hub, which is a fantastic scheme whose objective is to support groups who are currently underrepresented and under supported trying to enter the profession. It is going from strength to strength; however, Carol did highlight a further need for volunteers working in trade marks or as an IP barrister.
Jane Wainwright introduced the group to one of the newest additions to IP Inclusive, focused on menopause support. The group currently sits under the Inclusivity Unlocked! banner given it can apply to members across all communities. They have organised two events, a coffee date and a webinar, but are hoping for more over the coming months. It is a fantastic support scheme for those trying to find their voice with a difficult subject to navigate. They have an upcoming coffee date next Tuesday 25th April – please join if you can, the more the merrier!
It is important that EDI is championed from the highest levels, is not delegated down the ranks, and creates conversation between all members of the profession. Gwilym Roberts explained why the IP Inclusive Senior Leader’s Pledge is a great way of giving structure to this directive, organising advisory sessions known as Pledge Prattle discussing EDI requirements, how we can tailor systems to individual internal working structures, and what challenges might arise along the way.
IP Advisory Board
The IP Advisory Board works as a guide, support, sounding board and critical friend. They pass on thoughts on best practice from a range of perspectives, as well as speaking at events and acting as an ambassador when required. It was questioned how they may align themselves and further engage with the IP Inclusive communities outside of the official calendar, and become more visible and active between calendared meetings. Ben Buchanan stressed how they don’t always agree, very much a benefit of the committee diversity where they are able to challenge and break down group think.
The AGM finished with a brief voting session and breakout rooms where issues were discussed in a more intimate setting. Following the breakout rooms, we came back together as a group to highlight the main points that arose including:
- Encouraging other countries to adopt the IP Inclusive mentality
- Further transparency on hybrid working, social events, and working culture for younger members who joined during the pandemic
- Challenging the lack of community for underrepresented backgrounds entering, or attempting to enter, the profession
- Highlighting religion, the older generation in the industry, and the non-attorney community
- Redefining the regional communities, removing the focus on a specific location and encouraging smaller groups to get together
- Stressing the importance of data gathering and the need for allies, and how they can impact the success of the initiative moving forward
The meeting was thought provoking and a welcome change to a normal Tuesday morning, with around 75 participants logging on – a fantastic effort given the initial technical difficulties courtesy of Eventbrite!
This review was put together by Fellows and Associates Principal Consultant, Phillipa Holland. Phillipa will be attending the AIPLA global Women in IP networking event next Thursday 27th April which is supported by IP Inclusive, click here for more information and to sign up.
The Fellows and Associates annual Salary Survey 2023 will be live shortly, please keep an eye out for further details