WIPR Influential Women in IP 2020
WIPR’s latest survey on diversity and inclusion provides another sombre snapshot
of an industry that’s behind the times but trying hard to catch up through a variety of
initiatives. Sarah Morgan reports.
arlier this year, WIPR undertook a
global survey to learn more about your
thoughts and experiences of diversity in
the legal profession. While our inaugural
survey in 2019 mainly focused on gender diversity,
this year we broadened the focus to include all kinds
of diversity and inclusion (D&I) issues for a fuller
picture. The results were, once again, sobering.
As in our first survey, the majority of our respondents
were women, with men and ‘other’ making up 20% and
5%, respectively. The majority (70%) of respondents
came from private practice, while in-house, service
providers, IP offices and others made up the rest of the
cohort, and a third of respondents consider themselves
to be part of a minority.
Personal stories and accountable leaders
Approximately three-quarters of respondents believe
that D&I is a stated value for their organisation.
D&I seems to be more of a priority for those in
private practice, with 82% believing it’s a priority
for their organisation, compared with 70% of those
in other organisations.
These percentages are slightly lower than the
amount of people who believe that D&I is either
extremely important or very important to improving
a company’s success (89%). And, given the sheer
number of studies which show that diversity
improves innovation and financial performance, it’s
no surprise that only 3% of respondents feel that D&I
is not very or not at all important.
The bad news is that the percentage of firms with
a D&I policy did not change year on year, with 65% of
respondents stating that their companies had such a
policy in both this year’s survey and last year’s. Private
practice respondents pushed up the results, with 67%
stating that their firm has a policy.
But there’s worse news: our survey found that only
three-quarters believe their senior management team
was committed to D&I.
Brian Winterfeldt, principal of Winterfeldt IP
Group, says: “It is very unfortunate that although we
are in the year 2020, a quarter of survey respondents
believe their senior management team is not
demonstrably committed to D&I.”
It’s crucial for a diverse and inclusive culture to
come from the top and be reinforced at every step
of the way. Otherwise, staff can end up feeling like
one respondent, who warns: “The initiatives feel like
public-facing statements not internal goals.”
Véronique Durand-Rettally, counsel at Baker
McKenzie in Mexico, adds that having accountable
leaders is of the utmost importance when you’re
looking to develop better D&I programmes.
“It’s important for an organisation to have
diversity champions who strongly believe in making
changes and involve leadership to create a diverse and
inclusive workplace,” she says. “But for any policy
and initiative to be successful, the commitment of
everyone, especially those at a decision-making level,
To get more members of senior management
engaged with these important efforts, Winterfeldt
suggests some effective approaches.
First, client pressure and peer pressure can be
very useful, he says, adding that “even those who are
not committed to D&I because it is the right
thing to do, ethically speaking, can be persuaded that
Diversity in law
It’s important for
to have diversity