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Pride in the IPO

Category: Pride Network, Pride 2021, Government, Jobs in Government, LGBTQ Inclusion, Staff Networks, Pride Month, LGBTQ+, Intellectual Property Office, IPO, staff network group, intellectual property


June is Pride Month. We’ve been speaking to Head of Resourcing Nathalie Tidball, and Inclusion and Diversity Cultural Advisor Nic Smith, to find out what the IPO is doing to make the organisation an inclusive, fair and Brilliant Place to Work for absolutely everyone.

June is Pride Month. We’ve been speaking to Head of Resourcing Nathalie Tidball, and Inclusion and Diversity Cultural Advisor Nic Smith, to find out what the IPO is doing to make the organisation an inclusive, fair and Brilliant Place to Work for absolutely everyone.

Nic, please tell us about the IPO staff networks and, given that we’re currently marking Pride Month, the work of i-Pride.

We have a number of different networks in the IPO, from a Faith and Belief Network, to a Carer’s Network, a Disability Network and of course our LGBTQ+ Network, IPride. IPride is at the forefront of change in the organisation, working to advise on all elements of policies and practices, from gender inclusive facilities to advice on some of the more complex trade mark applications.

Just in the last year, the IPride team has made a staggering difference. They’ve supported our people through Covid which has been a particularly tough time for some of our LGBT+ colleagues. They have participated in Non-Binary talks for IP Inclusive (a network of intellectual property professionals working to make the IP community more equal, diverse and inclusive) and for the Cabinet Office.

The team has hosted talks about misconceptions between Faith, Gender and Sexuality, and marked trans awareness and trans day of remembrance with blog posts… they are a very busy network, who we are so grateful for. In fact, our co-chair has been shortlisted for a Pink News award! We value the advice (and challenges) IPride gives us. We see the network as a proactive partner, helping to improve the lifestyle and culture of the IPO for everyone.

Nathalie, how does the IPO make sure that its recruitment processes are fair and inclusive?

The IPO has put in place a dedicated resourcing team which has been reviewing our recruitment processes and data to identify areas for improvement.

The team works closely with the Diversity and Inclusion team to ensure that any recruitment campaigns demonstrate what a diverse, fair and inclusive organisation IPO is to work for.

We’re constantly on the lookout for ways we can improve, though, and it is important to us that we find new ways of challenging old ways of working. We are currently looking at our recruitment data to try and tie down how we can improve our inclusivity and appeal to a diverse range of people.

Nathalie, how does the IPO’s recruitment outreach support inclusive representation?

The resourcing team works closely with colleagues across the organisation to discuss outreach for any recruitment campaigns coming up. We are constantly looking for ways we can reach as diverse a talent pool as possible to encourage them to apply for roles at the IPO.

This includes talking to local communities, ensuring support is available for candidates that may need further adjustments within the recruitment process, educating schools and universities on the great work that we do here.  

The platform we have created through VERCIDA helps us promote all the good things we do at the IPO. The platform enables us to broadcast through blogs, videos and articles from current staff members what we are doing as an employer to make our recruitment more inclusive. This includes demonstrating how we support our LGBTQ+ people throughout our organisation.

IPO workforce declaration data

Nic, you’re running a data campaign that looks at IPO’s diversity declaration rates and people survey results. Can you update us on that?

Asking our people to declare their protected characteristics can sometimes feel like an invasion of privacy. I know myself when applying for jobs I’ve wondered why my sexual preferences are important, or who I’m married to, or what my parent’s job was when I was 14!

However, without this data, we have absolutely no idea if any of our processes are unintentionally marginalising people because of their protected characteristics. Data is really key to us understanding the make-up of our organisation. It helps us create robust plans that lead to changes that have real impact.

We use our declaration data to ensure everyone is being treated equally, from promotion to pay, reward to retention, and even to ensuring there’s equal access to support, like our staff counsellor. We leave no stone unturned!

Our annual people survey results are also critical in helping us understand how different people are feeling in the organisation. This year we’ve seen record numbers of people agreeing that the IPO respects diversity, and although we know there’s (always!) more to do, we’re thrilled to be classed as a high performing Civil Service organisation.

It's these results that get fed into the various organisations who benchmark how well businesses are doing in terms of looking after their people. We’ve been proud to have achieved top 10 in The Working Families Index, been acknowledged as a Silver Fairplay Employer with Chwarae Teg, Gold Investors in People, and most recently, Gold in MIND’s Workplace Wellbeing Index. While we’re very proud of these achievements, we know there is still so much more to do to get where we want to be.

Nic, tell us about the work the IPO is doing to use gender neutral language.

We know that traditionally, the Civil Service may not have portrayed itself as the most diverse or inclusive employer to new talent. For those who work in the Civil Service and particularly in the IPO, they’ll know how important it is to us that we have a diverse workforce where people can be themselves in work.

Making the IPO a Brilliant Place to Work is a key pillar in the IPO Strategy. We work really hard for people to feel not only included but valued for their different perspective.

It's been a challenge to show that to the ‘outside world’, though. One way is to eliminate gendered language from our job adverts, which we see as critical in removing unintended barriers for people. We have been busy making sure our policies are written in gender neutral language, and our visuals and branding are reflective of the diverse workforce we want to attract.

We are just starting a gender inclusive language project that will ensure that the ways we communicate with each other and our customers are inclusive, too. We know that a workforce where people feel they can bring their whole self to work is a happy and productive workforce. It is representative of the diverse range of customers we serve, too.

Gender symbols

Nic, can you tell us about the IPO’s Respect at Work campaign, and ‘The Deal’, and how the organisation demonstrates a zero-tolerance to bullying and harassment?

Our Board is absolutely committed to creating an environment where no one is marginalised, bullied or harassed. Thankfully, that passion is shared by our people. We all work together to create an environment where everyone feels they are able to bring their whole self to work without fear of being treated differently.

‘The Deal’ is really at the heart of this - a set of principles that treat us like adults and in return expects us to treat each other respectfully. This is underpinned by our Respect at Work campaign which supports our people to call out behaviours that “aren’t ok”. It challenges our people to think whether our behaviour is acceptable and inclusive. We’re really proud of the varying ways we support our people.

Although there’s (always!) more to do, our people are reporting that they’ve felt more supported than ever to call out any behaviours that have made them feel uncomfortable.

Nathalie, Nic, thank you for telling us about all the great work you’re doing at the IPO to make it a Brilliant Place to Work.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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