International Women's Day Spotlight - IPIC EDI Project Consultant - Shelley Jones
Marked annually on March 8th International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Participation is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements and rally for women's equality. This year's campaign theme is 'Embrace Equity' because true inclusion and belonging require equitable action, and because when we embrace equity, we embrace diversity and inclusion. In celebration of this day IPIC will highlight prominent women members who are just some of the many incredible women within the IP profession.
Shelley Jones, IPIC EDI Project Consultant, Founder & CEO, Cedarwing Inc.
Shelley is a lawyer and registered trademark agent based in Ottawa and a Fellow of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC). As experienced IP counsel, Shelley has worked with brand owners on matters related to trademark and copyright infringement, litigation, domain name disputes, and anti-counterfeiting issues. A significant portion of her past practice has also involved managing global trademark portfolios. More recently, Shelley has been working in the not-for-profit sector on projects focused on increasing IP awareness and education. She has also established her own project consulting firm, Cedarwing Inc., and has been assisting IPIC with its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives.
Why is equity, diversity, and inclusion important to the IP profession?
First and foremost, it is the right thing to do. Supporting an environment of inclusion where everyone feels welcome and can fully participate will lead to better outcomes. Studies have also shown for example that diversity contributes to innovation, creativity and strategic thinking.
Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of achieving balance and a rewarding career with the help of a supportive family.
I am also proud of the opportunity to assist IPIC with its EDI initiatives, working closely with IPIC’s Director of EDI and Stakeholder Relations, Loreto Lamb, along with the support of IPIC leadership and staff.
In addition to meeting key objectives under both the IPIC 2021-2023 Strategic Plan and the EDI project funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE), IPIC conducted its first-ever EDI survey. The response has been overwhelming positive and has contributed to IPIC being recognized as a taking a leadership role in this space.
Another key accomplishment that I am most proud of is that IPIC’s approach to its EDI initiatives is that it is not just about going through the motions – it is about taking meaningful action towards achieving positive change.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Embrace Equity” what actions do you believe need to be taken in the IP profession to Embrace Equity.
To #EmbraceEquity means many things. A key takeaway from the EDI survey was that EDI education is of particular interest to the IP profession and IPIC is making this a priority. It involves actions such as recognizing and understanding complex issues regarding race, indigeneity, socioeconomic status, culture, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, ability, spirituality, language, education and others.
Another important action that the IP profession can take to #EmbraceEquity is to start a conversation about EDI and its impact. These conversations are often very enlightening. For example, IPIC held a Listening Session that provided an opportunity to discuss various EDI-related topics and offered a safe space for participants to be heard. Facilitated by EDI experts who brought lived experiences, the session was respectful, inclusive and confidential.
As part of IPIC’s EDI initiatives, there have been and will continue to be various opportunities for IPIC members to get involved to #EmbraceEquity. Whether it is participating in EDI focus groups, attending workshops, taking e-Learning modules, engaging in outreach to entrepreneurs and businesses from equity-deserving groups, or speaking with students about careers in IP, IPIC members will be playing a key role in the success of the EDI initiatives planned.
What do you believe are the best ways individuals can Embrace Equity to collectively impact positive change?
In addition to engaging in EDI education and starting conversations both in the workplace and in one’s personal life, become an EDI advocate to Embrace Equity. To promote EDI and make meaningful changes in the workplace setting, leaders need to be EDI advocates. This goes beyond changes to human resources policies and involves a cultural shift toward acting proactively where all employees can enjoy equitable access to opportunities and have their voices heard.
From a personal perspective, it is important to get involved. This can include, for example, volunteering, supporting businesses owned by equity-deserving groups, and donating to organizations with a focus on achieving positive and systemic change through their EDI initiatives.
What advice do you have for aspiring women IP professionals?
Build a supportive network. Whether through attending industry networking events, participating in committees, and having mentors, you will not only develop an effective network, but you will also establish business relationships along with lifelong friendships. Early in my career, I discovered that IPIC offers opportunities for all of these and each of them can play a key role in your success.
What will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders in the IP profession?
There will be many challenges that women leaders in the IP profession will continue to encounter. These include pay equity, managing work-life balance, and other EDI-related issues.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is achieving more representation in leadership roles. While there has been some progress in this area within organizations, it is encouraging to see women succeeding in establishing their own IP firms. These women provide role models and are an inspiration for the next generation of leaders in the IP profession.