We all know the importance of encouraging diversity in the workplace. A diverse team leads to a better cross section of ideas and fresh approaches to old problems. The same thinking applies to hiring interns, as much as it does permanent employees - an approach we share with our client, American multinational, Cummins who agree that diversity within an organisation fosters an improved company culture where differences are acknowledged and valued.

Early in 2020, in partnership with Cummins, we embarked upon the search for a talented individual to spend time with both organisations for the first of this kind of internship. The objectives from the outset were defined as to identify a talented mechanical engineering student or recent graduate from an under represented background with an interest in a career in intellectual property and we were both delighted with our recruit, Joseph Tembo, a recent graduate from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Sheffield.

"We know organisational diversity doesn't happen overnight, but we do believe that through programs such as this, we are giving Marks & Clerk a good foundation to build a more diverse workforce," said Partner at Marks & Clerk, Dr. Mark Dauncey.

As a firm, we are thinking increasingly strategically about the issues facing our industry, and how best to address them. Simply deciding to be more diverse is not an option, nor is it effective, and we continue to look at the world of intellectual property from a micro and macro viewpoint to identify potential problem areas when it comes to hiring. It is particularly true when it comes to STEM subjects where early intervention is key – these students are the innovators of tomorrow and are integral to the success of innovative businesses such as Cummins, as well as Marks & Clerk.

At Cummins, diversity and inclusion is a core company value and the company's leaders have long believed that diversity creates a stronger and more competitive work environment, and ultimately helps them attract and retain top talent. As part of Cummins' global commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, it is taking proactive measures to review talent management and accountability systems and processes to mitigate bias and ensure the equitable acquisition and advancement of all talent – this internship program is simply one piece of their outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

"Having experienced first-hand the difficulties in building a high performing IP team, which not only has the necessary skills and experience, but also the diversity valued so highly by Cummins, I am committed, along with my colleagues, in helping to ensure that diverse graduates interested in a career in law have the right opportunities to thrive. I am hopeful that programs such as these, run in a sustainable fashion, will help to establish a large pool of diverse talent," commented Rob Knight, Senior Counsel, Cummins Europe.

We were especially delighted to work alongside Generating Genius in our quest for talent. The organisation has been working for 15 years to ensure that talented and able students from disadvantaged backgrounds are positioned to excel in STEM careers. For Generating Genius to accomplish this goal, they are committed to helping students gain places to study at top universities, attain jobs in top businesses, and support them in finding meaningful internships. Generating Genius were a fantastic partner in helping us recruit the right person.

"I am incredibly grateful to Rob and Mark, and the wider teams at both Cummins and Marks & Clerk, for making me feel so welcome during my internship. Placements with such well-respected organisations are competitive and challenging at the best of times but adding COVID to the mix made the prospect even more overwhelming. I also appreciate the process was probably not without its challenges for Rob and Mark but they went out of their way to ensure I had amazing exposure to a wide range of different IP and commercial projects relating to Cummins' business. The lessons I learnt were invaluable but I've also felt so encouraged by the ongoing support I have had since and I look forward to hearing how the program develops over the years to come," said the inaugural programme intern, Joseph Tembo.

We are working again with Cummins and Generating Genius to offer an internship in summer 2022.