Many women still struggle to advance in IP and find it necessary to leave an organisation to start their own firm to attain a leadership position, a key finding from a new report by the International Trademark Association (INTA) has confirmed.
The association unveiled its “Women in Leadership” report, including a “best practices toolkit”, yesterday, February 23.
The report emerged from an INTA project called The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative, aimed at helping organisations address the underrepresentation of women in IP.
Based on data collected from INTA workshops that included 135 women in IP across the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America regions, the report outlines key findings and recommends strategies that can foster career development opportunities for women.
INTA’s 2020 President Ayala Deutsch prioritised the issue during her term, and the association launched the initiative to coincide with last year’s International Women’s Day.
“I have been fortunate to have a fulfilling and successful career in IP, but I remain mindful of the challenges that women still confront in the workplace,” said Deutsch in the report’s foreword.
“I am confident that The Women’s Leadership Initiative will be a powerful resource to help women navigate those challenges and move forward in their careers.”
The report revealed that participants in workshops across all four regions agreed that visibility—“speaking up and standing up for achievements”—has been key in the advancement of their careers.
The report revealed regional variations as well. For example, while women in Latin America and North America more frequently cited the necessity to start their own firm to attain a leadership position, most respondents from Asia-Pacific and Europe highlighted work quality and dedication to work as key to achieving a leadership position.
Open dialogue, not workforce quotas
The workshops also confirmed that women are under-represented in the IP sector, except in the trademark field. But it highlighted that there is a higher proportion of working women in trademark prosecution than in trademark litigation. To address these imbalances, workshop participants recommend measures such as open dialogue and sound work-life integration policies, rather than workforce gender quotas.
According to the report, in-house practitioners report a better balance than those working in law firms, and respondents across regions stressed the importance of flexible working arrangements in achieving a satisfactory work-life balance.
The report’s best practices toolkit offers 19 recommended initiatives, such as implementing a diversity and inclusion (D&I) council, an internal reporting requirement, coaching circles, and formal flexible working arrangements, as well as engaging with several campaigns and groups addressing these issues. It encourages all organisations “committed to recognising and advancing the role of women” to review and implement the recommended best practices.
To support the advancement of women’s leadership in IP, participants most frequently suggested that INTA can create networking events promoting the exchange of views among women IP professionals with different roles and functions, and a sponsorship or mentorship programme.
INTA’s 2021 president Tiki Dare has established a presidential task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and has confirmed that the association’s soon-to-be-released 2022–2025 strategic plan will continue to feature a strong D&I component.
The association will also organise additional education and networking events on women in IP and is exploring the establishment of a sponsorship and mentoring programme as well as additional research regarding the representation of women and other issues of diversity beyond gender.
In addition, INTA has introduced a programme—Women in INTA (WIN)—to continue to foster women’s leadership within the association itself.
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INTA, IP, trademarks, women in leadership, The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative, diversity, inclusion, equity