I suppose this was inevitable. At least one of the people outed as BNP members last week is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Guru has a wry take on it here, predicting that the embarrassed individual will emphatically deny any links with the CIPD.
Joking aside, though, the CIPD has apparently refused to take any action against the member. As you might expect, it has been criticised by some HR Directors for that stance. As Personnel Today reports:
Pam Parkes, HR director at Croydon Council, said: “I do not agree that a fellow member can abide by the CIPD code of conduct and its stance on equality and diversity, and at the same time be an activist for a far-right political party.”
Another HR director added: “If the CIPD wishes to be taken seriously, it needs to be prepared to take action against its members who infringe the code – in the same way many other professional organisations do. Turning a blind eye only serves to make it difficult to respect as a serious professional body.”
Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency, said: “I would not employ a known BNP member as an HR consultant as I would have absolutely no confidence in their ability to provide advice on any subject related to people issues.”
Fair comment, perhaps, but what if, say, members of Christian Voice were to be outed in a similar way? With that organisation’s attitude to gay people, could its members be truly impartial when dealing with issues of equality and diversity. And what about the Muslim Council of Britain? It has certainly been accused of being homophobic too.
Is membership of Christian Voice or the MCB also incompatible with CIPD membership?
The CIPD has made the right call here. Unless it wants to start drawing up a list of proscribed organisations, it has to take the view that members can hold whatever views they like and that disciplinary action should only be taken against a person’s behaviour, not against their private thoughts.
Like all organisations, the CIPD inevitably has a few people in its ranks who hold some views that others find disagreeable. I suppose you might call it diversity.