In July of 2021, the United States Intellectual Property Alliance (USIPA) launched The Diversity Pledge, which encouraged companies to use patent data as a way to visualize who is participating in their innovation and inventorship processes and more importantly who is not.

Today, more than 50 major companies in the United States and Europe have signed the pledge to understand and address the issue of underrepresented inventors (URI) within their organizations and to facilitate more participation in the innovation ecosystem so that all people and ideas in the United States have an opportunity for success. Additionally, more than 25 law firms, consulting firms and academic institutions have signed on as pledge supporters to provide their assistance as part of the innovation ecosystem.

Some of the founding pledgees, which include Meta, Lenovo, Adobe, AT&T, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft, each made a three-year commitment to learn about one or more groups of underrepresented inventors and identify opportunities and ultimately create best practices to promote equitable opportunities for those groups. 

The companies also committed to anonymously report the following data by March 2024 per the Diversity in Innovation Pledge:

  • Inventorship Rate for a specific URI group = # of Unique Underrepresented Inventors on Patent Applications) ÷ (Total # of Unique Inventors on Patent Applications)
  • Fractional Inventorship Rate for a specific URI group (e.g., average percentage of URIs per patent application in each calendar year) = Sum of % of URIs per Patent Application) ÷ (Total # of Patent Applications)

The USPTO’s Progress and Potential Report was the first step in raising national awareness of gender participation in the innovation process, with women only participating on 13% of patents.  We can all agree that as a nation we need to do better, and create an innovation ecosystem where all talented inventors can participate. Today, Meta and Lenovo shared their gender baseline data after the first year, with the hope that their efforts will encourage greater transparency of inventorship data by all companies. 

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Pro-diversity messages are everywhere, whether you’re searching for a job, playing soccer, or watching the Oscars. Their point is simple: Diversity is good and we need more of it. In the business world, for example, we know that more-diverse groups tend to be more innovativecreativehard-working, and better at solving problems. Yet despite the proliferation of interest in diversity and costly initiatives aimed at increasing it, discrimination continues to be a major problem in the labor market.

In trying to address discrimination, many organizations now explicitly advertise their dedication to diversity, identifying themselves as “equal opportunity” or “diversity-friendly” employers. The thinking, presumably, is that such statements will increase the diversity of their applicant pool and ultimately of their workforce. We know a lot about how effective these diversity statements are, and, unfortunately, the answer is “not very.” They can even backfire by making organizations less likely to notice discrimination.

On the other hand, we know relatively little about the steps minority job seekers are taking to avoid anticipated discrimination. One way racial minorities may be trying to avoid discrimination is via a practice called “resume whitening” — concealing or downplaying racial cues on a job application to increase the chance of getting a callback for an interview. Resume whitening goes hand-in-hand with the desire to “tone down” or “downplay” race and to maintain a relatively “raceless” workplace identity.

To address this gap, we recently conducted three studies, which will appear in Administrative Science Quarterly, to learn more about whitening and how it is influenced by organizational diversity statements — and about how organizations respond to whitening.

In our first study, we interviewed black and Asian university students who were actively searching for jobs or internships. We found that roughly one-third of our sample had engaged in whitening, and two-thirds knew someone else who had. The main areas where this whitening occurred were with names (e.g., using a “white” first name such as Jenn instead of an Asian first name such as Jing) and descriptions of experience (e.g., dropping “Black” when listing membership in the “Black Engineering Students’ Association”). Among the motivations that interviewees mentioned for whitening, the main reason was to tone down their race in order to avoid discrimination. Importantly, interviewees indicated that they whitened less or not at all when applying to jobs for employers who explicitly state that they value diversity.

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An expert in entrepreneurship argues that greater diversity is the key to corporate creativity.

When Riitta Katila looks at old photos or movies about the space program of the 1960s, she sees one common thread among the people depicted there — homogeneity.

The engineers and technicians who first put humans on the moon were, almost without exception, white and male.

While society has come a long way in the decades since, Katila, who is an expert in technology strategy and organizational learning, says there’s still a long way to go. She notes that companies need innovation not only to reach the top, but to stay there. And now more than ever, innovative companies should be hiring, promoting, and listening to a broader range of voices.

The good news is that innovation can be taught. It’s like a recipe, says Katila, who encourages entrepreneurs — even those who have already built successful companies — to seek out mentors who can help them navigate the future. More important, those same entrepreneurs need to proactively identify mentors who can empower their team members to think like innovators too, as Katila tells Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast, hosted by bioengineer Russ Altman. You can listen and subscribe here.

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Companies spend millions on antibias training each year. The goal is to create workforces that are more inclusive, and thereby more innovative and more effective. Studies show that well-managed diverse groups outperform homogeneous ones and are more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and are better at making decisions and solving problems. But research also shows that bias prevention programs rarely deliver. And some companies don’t invest in them at all. So how can you, as an individual leader, make sure your team is including and making the most of diverse voices? Can one person fix what an entire organization can’t?

Although bias itself is devilishly hard to eliminate, it is not as difficult to interrupt. In the decades we’ve spent researching and advising people on how to build and manage diverse work groups, we’ve identified ways that managers can counter bias without spending a lot of time—or political capital.

The first step is to understand the four distinct ways bias plays out in everyday work interactions: (1) Prove it again: Some groups have to prove themselves more than others do. (2) Tightrope: A narrower range of behaviors is accepted from some groups than from others. (3) Maternal wall: Women with children see their commitment and competence questioned or face disapproval for being too career focused. (4) Tug-of-war: Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating—or refusing to do so.

The second step is to recognize when and where these forms of bias arise day-to-day. In the absence of an organizational directive, it’s easy to let them go unaddressed. That’s a mistake. You can’t be a great manager without becoming a bias interrupter. Here’s how to do it.


Behavioral insights from employee feedback can help organizations identify and drive new, data-informed priorities.

Pervading nearly every facet of our personal and professional lives, the impact of COVID-19 is made worse by the fact that there is no playbook for companies and their leaders to follow, including leaders who have successfully navigated quick and crashing waters in the past. Seemingly overnight, employers had to direct their workforces to work remotely as governments imposed widespread lockdowns. […]

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Authors: Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio

Originally published by MIT Sloan Management Review

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There is a parable in the Bible called “The Parable of the Sower”. The parable describes a “sower”, who casts seeds into various places. Some take root and others don’t. What causes some to flourish while others fail to grow is not the seeds themselves, but the ground upon which they fall. […]

Full article available here.

Authors: Deb Liu

Published by Substack

Women remain woefully under-represented among IP-owning inventors. Facebook and 3M provide exclusive insight into what they are doing to boost female innovation – strategies from which other companies could benefit.

Authors: Suzanne Harrison, Charu Kurani, Jeremiah Chan and Sandra Nowak

Originally published in IAM Magazine – link to the article on IAM

Lenovo’s IP team is conducting a data-driven deep-dive into inventorship as part of the company’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) focus. It’s not just the right thing to do, IP head John Mulgrew says — it will also help bolster the quality of the company’s portfolio.

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Authors: Jacob Schindler

Originally published on IAM Media.

Open source dominates the software industry and, by its very nature, appears to be at odds with IP protection. As open source packages continue to grow in popularity, in-house counsel should be aware of the pitfalls of their use and the complex IP landscape.

Authors: Michael Moore, Judy Shie, Joe Kucera, Tarisa Wain and Ron Karr

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Originally published in IAM Magazine 93.