The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative Marks One-Year Anniversary with Release of Report and Toolkit

Published: May 5, 2021

Edited from the original article published on February 24, 2021

The Women's LeadershIP Initiative report

Nearly one year ago, INTA embarked on a new adventure, reflecting more in depth on gender diversity issues in the intellectual property (IP) space with an eye toward helping women progress in their careers.

On March 8, 2020, International Women’s Day, the Association launched The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative, which aims to foster the development of leadership skills for women in the IP field and to empower them to advance their careers to the next level. As the Initiative approached its one-year anniversary and just prior to the 2021 International Women’s Day, on March 8, INTA published The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative Report and Best Practices Toolkit.

Why the Initiative? Women are increasingly taking on leadership roles in different areas of the legal arena, and the contribution of female professionals across industries, including IP, is being recognized. Nonetheless, particularly with respect to leadership positions, they continue to be underrepresented, in both law firms’ senior positions and companies’ boards and C-suites. The global COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear that women are affected disproportionately, especially in terms of overall job losses, so it has become especially important to address the systemic inequality.

During its first year, the Initiative focused on collecting data regarding the representation of women across all IP functions, their career advancement, and how to nurture work-life integration to enable effective leadership today and in the future. INTA held five workshops where female members from across the globe provided valuable feedback. It also conducted in-depth surveys and analyzed external data on women in the workforce worldwide.

The Report contains a summary of the information gathered on the current state of women’s roles and career positioning in the IP field, and dozens of detailed key findings from the workshops and surveys. It also contains a Best Practices Toolkit that can be implemented by organizations interested in fostering career advancement and leadership opportunities for women.

On women’s career advancement and leadership positions, the Report found that while an increasing number of women are entering the legal field, particularly in IP, women are under-represented in the IP sector, particularly in leadership positions.

While it cites research showing that diversity and the representation of women in IP is higher than in other law firm practice areas, it also highlights evidence that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years. “This is startling and of great concern,” the Report notes.

Among other key findings, for instance, results from a workshop survey showed a higher percentage of women working in trademarks than other forms of IP rights, and that in some regions there is a lower percentage of women in trademark litigation as opposed to trademark prosecution or patent prosecution/litigation. The gender diversity measure least often in place in organizations is workforce gender quotas; rather, work-life policies can be the most effective gender diversity measure.

The Report also presents actions INTA can take to support women’s leadership. Some are already underway. INTA has started to develop content and programming. This has included several sessions at the Association’s 2020 INTA Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting where a diverse group of members exchanged on diversity and inclusion issues; and a new series of its Brand & New podcast called Women’s Empowerment in Intellectual Property.

This year, INTA is offering more educational and networking opportunities related to the Initiative. Up first is a series of virtual discussion forums, entitled Championing Women Leaders: The Road Forward, held on International Women’s Day, in various time zones on March 8.

The Association is also exploring the establishment of a sponsorship and mentoring program as well as new research areas regarding the representation of women in particular structures, such as IP government bodies, and other elements of diversity beyond gender.

As noted by INTA’s 2020 President Ayala Deutsch in the Report’s foreword, “We have accomplished so much in the first year of The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative, but we are just getting started.”

The Initiative will continue as a sustained and permanent program, consistent with INTA’s long-term strategic direction and INTA’s overarching commitment to diversity and inclusion and broader goals around corporate social responsibility.

The importance of this project for INTA and the Association’s commitment to ensure its durability are reflected in its 2022–2025 Strategic Plan, which will continue to feature a strong diversity and inclusion component. It also is a central focus of INTA 2021 President Tiki Dare, who has established a Presidential Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2021 International Trademark Association