About HGF

Equality, diversity & inclusion

At the heart of our values is our dynamic, diverse team – not only do our people enrich our business but they make it stronger.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is fundamental to the way we work with each other. Not only does it make business sense, the most diverse organisations outperform those with less or little diversity, but it’s the right way to behave and absolutely aligns with our values of People, Teamwork, Progressive and Excellence.

It is so much more than a written policy – the EDI work being done at HGF, with its diverse and inclusive ethos, makes it a better workplace for all.  The HR team is a proud ally and supporter of HGF’s EDI strategy, and its Focus Group helping make planned change happen.”

HR Director and Partner, Carol Watkiss.

HGF’s Board sponsor for EDI is our Partner, Vanessa Stainthorpe who continues to make EDI a priority agenda item at Board meetings, with full support of the wider Board. Vanessa also leads the EDI Focus Group – which acts as an agent for change.

Through our ongoing people strategy and EDI plan, our leadership and management teams are committed to supporting our people, helping them flourish and reach their full potential. We do this by challenging the status quo to ensure HGF is a place where everyone can be their true self. The EDI strategy comprises continual, objective assessment of where improvements are required, the setting of targets, partnerships with external expert networks and internal education and development programmes.

Vanessa Stainthorpe, Partner

“Having been HGF’s representative to IP Inclusive for several years, I am excited to work with HGF’s own EDI Focus Group so we can make real change within our organisation. This is the natural next step for us to prioritise EDI (it’s relevant to us all – everyone can be an ally) so that HGF is a place where everyone, at any position in the organisation, can bring their whole self to work and feel included and supported.

Network groups

Collaborating as an overall team to identify and tackle the issues that affect our people is central to HGF’s values. We involve our people through a range of internal groups and reach out to external specialist organisations with whom we can successfully partner.


Harnessing external expertise

We understand that IP can be a high-pressured profession, and we take steps to assist our entire team, including partners, in identifying stress in ourselves and colleagues, understanding triggers and how to manage stress. We work closely with external expert organisations, such as Mind the Mental Health Charity, to educate our people and raise awareness on the significance of mental health.

EDI focus group

Supporting HGF’s Board in its commitment to delivering an effective EDI strategy, HGF’s EDI Focus Group, comprises a group of people from all levels and areas of the business who are passionate about HGF’s EDI vision.

Meeting quarterly, with the support of HR, the group provides an insight into issues relating to culture, equality, diversity and inclusion, working together to identify barriers and solutions that impact recruitment, promotions, learning and development, and day-to-day job performance. The group is responsible for communicating and promoting EDI activity to the wider business, whilst conducting assessment and analysis on its impact. Ultimately it is HGF’s Board that takes responsibility for HGF to meeting its EDI targets.

The EDI Focus Group also plays a role in identifying opportunities for the firm to engage with broader, external communities, such as community volunteer activities and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Ji-Young Song

“I naturally feel that it’s my responsibility to be involved in the EDI focus group – probably because I identify myself as having differences to some extent, and also I would like to find a way to make a positive contribution to HGF. Everyone is different in some ways, and I am sure that allowing and promoting differences without judging would make HGF a happier place to work in.”


Akvile Lukauskaite

“I am very passionate about being a part of achieving and maintaining a workplace where all individuals feel respected and supported. That is why I wanted to be a part of the HGF’s EDI group. I am keen to keep learning all about EDI and how it can be successfully implemented across all the teams at HGF – exciting times ahead!”


Janine Swarbrick

“I joined the EDI Group because I want to contribute to HGF, and the wider patent profession, providing a workplace which celebrates differences, rather than discriminates because of them. I feel proud of my somewhat unconventional background as a Patent Attorney and would like to support others to help everyone realise their potential, whoever they are, in a supportive and inclusive environment. I think that if you really can be yourself at work, it benefits everyone.”

Mark Sellick

“I wanted to be a member of the EDI group because I believe equality, diversity and inclusion are vitally important, for HGF and also for the profession and society in general. As one of the largest IP firms, HGF should be leading the way and making the most of its potential to improve EDI in the profession, and I’m keen to do what I can to make that happen.”


Adjoa Anim

“My motivation for joining the focus group is that it forms part of my personal anti-racism manifesto, to formalise my drive and desire to make sure that candidates from under-represented parts of society find it easier to enter the legal profession, flourish in it and progress through it. Furthermore, I want to be part of the effort to ensure that our EDI targets and policies are put into practice and implemented at every level of HGF, to go beyond having the words on our websites and marketing material. It is a scary (and exciting!) undertaking, but we have to start somewhere.”


Alastair Da Costa

“I believe that organisations which embrace equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are better managed, make better decisions and create more opportunities for staff – these are our aims at HGF. EDI is complementary with HGF’s core value around People – we wish to embrace all of our talent from every background. EDI is a particular passion of mine and I  contribute to EDI at The Social Mobility Commission as a UK Government appointed Commissioner.”

IP Inclusive

Created in 2015 by leading organisations and individuals in the intellectual property sector, IP Inclusive was established to drive equality, diversity and inclusion across the industry – from employment processes, recruitment and retention, to career development and company ethos.

HGF was an early member of IP Inclusive and is proud to play an active role in this supporter-funded charter, which promotes best practice through training, events and resources, equipping IP industry insiders with the tools to operate with authentically diverse and inclusive values.

By signing the IP Inclusive Charter, HGF is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion by:

  1. Having in place a named individual within our organisation as Diversity and Inclusion Officer. This person will be sufficiently senior to make change happen and to be accountable for our progress.
  2. Having in place a written Diversity and Inclusion policy for our organisation and making everybody in the organisation aware of it.
  3. Promoting openness and transparency so as to demonstrate merit-based equal opportunities in our recruitment and career progression process.
  4. Acknowledging the effects of unconscious bias and introducing measures to tackle it.
  5. Monitoring and reporting internally on our progress using measures and at intervals that are appropriate to our size and nature.

Sharing our experience within the IP Inclusive community helps build an effective network for diversity and inclusion across the IP sector.