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Promoting IP inclusion in the North of England

Jo Thurston

A group of leading intellectual property (IP) professionals in the North of England are on a mission to encourage diversity and inclusion throughout the sector.

Among them, are patent attorneys at two of the region’s leading IP firms, Withers & Rogers and HGF.

In 2015, four IP-related trade associations founded ‘IP Inclusive’, with the goal of making the sector accessible to all. Since then, over 130 organisations based across the UK have become signatories of the group’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) charter.

As well as welcoming professionals from the IP sector, some high-profile employers including IBM and Dyson, have joined the group, along with a number of Government-backed organisations.

Building on the success of the national group, Dr Joanna Thurston and Vanessa Stainthorpe, partners and patent attorneys at intellectual property firms, Withers & Rogers and HGF, alongside Abdulmalik Lawal, patent attorney at Franks & Co, have established a North of England division, with the aim of spreading the message of inclusion further.

Aiming to address barriers to diversity and inclusion across the industry, IP Inclusive is focusing on driving improvements in three key areas – women in IP; IP and ethnic minorities and IP Out, which covers LGBTQ+ concerns.

Dr Joanna Thurston said: “It is vital that intellectual property firms and other employers embrace the principles of diversity and inclusion and failing to do so could hold back their development and limit their success.

“There are many talented people in the North of England who may not ever have considered a career in IP or find it difficult to access training and employment opportunities in the professional services sector as a whole, and this needs to change.  IP Inclusive has a vital role to play in making this happen and I encourage all local IP professionals to get involved in our events and show their support.”

Vanessa Stainthorpe said: “In addition to the obvious benefits to the workforce, there is a sound business case for increasing diversity.  Research shows that companies with greater gender and ethnic diversity have better financial performance.

“We hope that IP Inclusive’s North of England network will help bring the IP professions to a wider audience and encourage both employers and potential recruits to consider the most diverse possible pool of talent.”

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