Increasing Diversity in Innovation

By Jeremiah Chan, Director and Associate General Counsel, Head of Patents, Licensing and Open Source

Today marks the opening of the inaugural Increasing Diversity in Innovation conference — a four-day event we’ve organized with the U.S. Intellectual Property Alliance and UC Berkeley. 

Increasing Diversity in Innovation brings together leaders from the government, academia and the technology industry to discuss ways to support underrepresented inventors. Sessions at the conference focus on unconscious bias, systemic inequity in the patent process, techniques for reaching diverse inventors and the importance of innovation.  

Alongside the progress we’re making as a company, as outlined in our Diversity Report, our Patents, Licensing and Open Source Team is continuing to push for greater inclusion. Our work extends beyond Facebook and across industries with this conference and our accompanying Pledge to Increase Diversity in Inventorship.

Beyond educational opportunity, the conference culminates in attendees signing the Pledge to Increase Diversity in Inventorship, committing to implement changes within their organization to support underrepresented inventors. 

By signing this pledge, companies commit to a three-year plan to learn about one or more groups of underrepresented inventors and identify opportunities to promote equitable opportunities for those groups. In an act of unprecedented transparency, they are also committing to anonymously report data, including their number of unique underrepresented inventors on patent applications. Facebook’s Patents, Licensing and Open Source Team helped create the pledge and recruit more than 20 organizations to sign. 

We’re taking our commitments one step further. Previously, we launched an initiative aimed at achieving gender parity in patenting. The initiative focuses on spotlighting our prolific female inventors, increasing visibility of the patent process to women and better understanding the barriers they face. 

In addition to this, we’ve recently piloted small-group brainstorming sessions for women inventors and will be expanding these sessions to other groups of underrepresented inventors. We’ll also create a mentorship program of women supporting women through the patent process. We’ll publicly share metrics on Facebook inventors that identify as female in the coming year. 

Our patent program exists to help promote the progress of science and technology. That progress would be impossible without diverse perspectives that represent the ways our products are used around the world. We’re excited about the work ahead and hopeful that our investments will lead to greater opportunity for diverse innovators across industries and borders.



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