Encouraging a diverse profession – building a clearer profile  

The Legal Services Act 2007 has a regulatory objective of ”encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession”. The Legal Services Board, the oversight regulator of legal services in England and Wales, has set the diversity regulatory framework for all legal regulators:

Diversity Profile - the regulator continues to build a clear and thorough understanding of the diversity profile of its regulated community (beginning at entry), how this changes over time and where greater diversity in the workforce needs to be encouraged

Regulatory Arrangements/Operational Processes/Other - the regulator uses data, evidence and intelligence about the diversity of the workforce to inform development of, and evaluate the effectiveness of, its regulatory arrangements, operational processes and other activities

Collaboration - the regulator collaborates with others to encourage a diverse workforce, including sharing good practice, data collection, and other relevant activities.

Accountable - the regulator accounts to its stakeholders for its understanding, its achievements and plans to encourage a diverse workforce.

IPReg is committed to improving the breadth and quality of reporting of the diversity profile of attorneys on the IPReg register. The main 2019 business priority for IPReg was development, testing and implementation of a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The new CRM has a significantly improved functionality which should help us gather much more reliable and comprehensive diversity information than we have been able to previously (the Diversity Statistics Summary 2017 illustrates the limits of the earlier profiling exercises). Ideally we would start this as a standalone exercise during 2020 but this may not be practical in the current circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis. However, in future annual return rounds we will be asking attorneys to complete the diversity information on their accounts.

Once we have built up a clearer picture of the diversity profile of registered attorneys this will help inform IPReg policy and decision-making. We hope to be able  to identify additional funding priorities  targeted at areas of under-representation and anticipate working closely with groups such as IP Inclusive to do this. 

Working together - funding of Diversity Initiatives

In 2015, IPReg established a (£30,000) fund to support diversity initiatives. Initiatives which have been funded include:

  • Generating Genius  works with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the funding was for its “proof of concept” work to develop web-based source materials for school science club teachers;
  • along with a small number of other legal regulators, we promoted the Legal Choices website  and the regulators through sponsoring logos on a London Pride Parade bus; the IPReg Board has been represented in person at the parade;
  • contributions have been made towards the operating costs of IP Inclusive.

Upon having built up a clearer picture of the diversity profile of registered attorneys we hope to target funding at any areas of under-representation.

IP Inclusive – promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity throughout the IP professions

IP Inclusive is an initiative set up by CIPA, CITMA, FICPI-UK, the IP Federation and the UK Intellectual Property Office devoted to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity throughout the professions. Find out more at: IP Inclusive.  IPReg has signed up to its Inclusive Charter; in doing so, “we commit to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion by:

  1. Having in place a named individual within the organisation as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer.  This person needs to be sufficiently senior to make change happen and to be accountable for your progress.
  2. Having in place a written Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy for your organisation and making everybody in the organisation aware of it.
  3. Promoting openness and transparency so as to demonstrate merit-based equal opportunities in your recruitment and career progression processes.
  4. Acknowledging the effects of unconscious bias and introducing measures to tackle it.
  5. Monitoring and reporting internally on your progress using measures and at intervals that are appropriate to your size and nature.
  6. Sharing your experience within the IP Inclusive community to help build an effective network for equality, diversity and inclusion across the IP sector”.

Our Chair, Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury, is IPReg’s named EDI Officer, to demonstrate the importance of diversity matters for IPReg. Please see Lord Smith’s LGBT+ Writing The History Blog written for IP Inclusive to mark LGBT+ History Month.