6 March 2020
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Andrea Brewster, lead executive officer at IP Inclusive, writes for Forward magazine. She discusses "why 'innoversity' is an imperative". 

Show me a business leader who doesn't care about diversity, and I'll show you a business in decline. Nowhere is that more true than in the IP sector.

Intellectual property is fuelled by innovation. And as is widely recognised, teams that are more diverse are more innovative. A broader range of perspectives and approaches - provided by this 'innoversity' - helps to counter groupthink, confirmation bias, entrenchment and other such cognitive barriers to effective decision-making.

But there's more to it than that. Our clients are also diverse and innovative. Surely, then, we should make sure we can offer them creative and broad-minded professionals who can relate to and keep pace with their developing businesses and technologies.

There are, of course, other incentives for embracing diversity. The IP system is international; it's a framework in which research, law and commerce can thrive together across national and cultural boundaries. Our clients and suppliers are therefore nationally and culturally diverse too. Our workforce should understand and reflect that.

Technology is evolving at speed, and that shapes our own businesses as well as our clients'. With increased connectivity, artificial intelligence and growing environmental awareness come new threats to our working practices and profit models, but importantly also new opportunities. We need to be agile in our responses. Again, teams that are more diverse and innovative will fare better.

The IP professions demand intelligent, multitalented individuals. It is not always easy to recruit and retain those people. Embracing diversity allows us to widen the pool we recruit from, giving us access to the best candidates regardless of their background. In turn, a more diverse, inclusive and creative workplace is more likely to attract and nurture the kind of colleagues we value.

Diversity will, quite simply, help us survive. Not just our individual businesses but the IP sector as a whole must embrace diversity to remain credible, relevant and successful. The more diverse our intake, the more optimistic we can feel about the future.

Add to this the fact that both clients and potential recruits are - quite reasonably - starting to ask questions about our diversity credentials and workplace inclusivity, not to mention that people are happier in more inclusive teams (in turn making them more productive and more loyal), and you soon realise that there's an irrefutable business case for diversity in IP.

Oh, and it's also the morally right thing to do.

Guest Author - Andrea Brewster

Andrea Brewster OBE is the lead executive officer at IP Inclusive, an initiative that promotes and improves diversity, equality and inclusion in the IP community. For more information, visit ipinclusive.org.uk.

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This article was originally published in the third edition of Mewburn Ellis Forward — a biannual publication that celebrates the best of innovation and exploration.

Subscribe to Mewburn Ellis Forward here.

 

 

 

Sarah has extensive experience in the drafting and prosecution of patent applications, predominantly in the pharmaceutical sector but with a sizeable materials chemistry practice. Sarah also has both offensive and defensive opposition experience and defended several patents covering approved medicines in the EPO’s Opposition procedure. Sarah has a first class MChem chemistry degree from the University of Oxford and a PhD in organic synthesis from the University of Southampton. Her doctorate research focused on the total synthesis of natural products using radical-based approaches. She spent two years conducting postdoctoral research in Southampton, and has also undertaken a research placement with a pharmaceutical process chemistry team.
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