The CIPD has raised its status – that’s good for all its members

I was in meetings most of yesterday so I completely missed the stink about the CIPD’s new campaign to attract people into the HR profession. A number of people took exception to the style and tone of the campaign, notably the HRD who posted an explosive rant on his blog. Over the past couple of days, a number of blog and Twitter comment threads have followed a general CIPD-is-crap theme.

But I’m not going to join in because I think the CIPD has really raised its game over the past few years and its progress carries some lessons for all HR professionals.

I am now into my second recession since starting work, or third if you count the mini-dip of the early 2000s. During this time, labour shortages and pay-hikes have turned to mass layoffs and unemployment, then back again. In between, an encyclopedia full of employment legislation has been passed. Workplace and labour market issues have been constantly in the headlines yet, go back a few years, and where was the CIPD? Almost invisible.

I used to rant at the telly every time some talking head from an organisation I had never heard of sat on the newsroom sofa pontificating about the latest labour market news. Often, it would just be the geezer from the employment agency down the road. “Where is my f**cking professional organisation?” I would shout, to the annoyance of my family and friends, “Why have they got Pandora Knownothing-Smythe on instead of the CIPD?”

It’s not like that now though. During the recent financial crisis, the CIPD has been up there with the best of them. Chief economist John Philpott has become one of the talking heads of the recession. The CIPD is regularly quoted in the national press. The last year has seen a further shift in its profile. Comment from John Phillpot and others is no longer restricted to employment issues; the CIPD’s pronouncements on the wider economic consequences of government policies are making the news too.

One of the factors which enables HR directors to gain and keep that elusive seat on the board is an ability to talk knowledgeably and confidently about all aspects of the business. The best HR directors don’t just speak HR, they speak finance, marketing and operations too. The CIPD has achieved something similar. It has gone beyond talking about workplace issues and employment law. These days, when it talks about economics and government policy, even the Wall Street Journal takes note.

By raising its profile in this way, the CIPD has enhanced the status of the HR profession and, thereby, the status of all of us in that profession. We have a professional body that is taken seriously because it has broken out of its narrow specialism and built its capacity to offer useful comment on the important issues of the day, an example that some HR executives struggling to make it to that top table would do well to emulate.

The Think HR campaign may be a bit maladroit and the CIPD has clearly failed to explain its purpose to its members, many of whom don’t understand why we need to attract people into HR when lots of HR people are being made redundant. The campaign has certainly irritated a few people.

But that is a minor glitch when you take into account the CIPD’s huge advance in prestige over the past few years. HR professionals are now represented by a highly regarded and heavy-hitting professional body. That reflects well on all of us; if our professional organisation is taken seriously, then, as its members, we are more likely to be taken seriously too.

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5 Responses to The CIPD has raised its status – that’s good for all its members

  1. Pingback: The CIPD has raised its status – that’s good for all its members - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  2. thehrd says:

    Hey Rick,

    Thanks for mentioning the post. I’m normally a fan of your views, but I have to say I find this post a little blinkered and somewhat naive. I also think, perhaps understandably, you have misunderstood a lot of the anger over the last 24 hours. I’ll try and explain why.

    The CIPD launched their campaign yesterday. What you describe kindly as maladroit I have to describe as abysmal. There is not one person that I have mentioned the strap line to (both inside and outside the profession) who hasn’t reacted with mirth and commented to the effect of “how on earth did they come up with that”. But not only this, the content of the website is, in mine and many others opinions, poor and ill reflects the realities of our jobs. Some of us are doing great things in HR, the site would suggest that we spend our time in meetings. There is little or no mention of culture and values, of engagement, of communication, of the real people initiatives that add organisational value.

    A lot of the anger though has been caused by the CIPDs reaction to the tweets about this. First effectively deleting them from their Twitter feed on the site and then by sending messages to me and others telling us not to use certain hash tags. Given that you used the same one in your post, you should rightly receive the same message. Given that you post is supportive, I doubt that you will. The censorship and the naive tactics raised a lot of heckles. This wasn’t aimed at the CIPD per se, but at the way that they reacted to their members.

    In terms of your views on the CIPD. Yes, John Philpott is good. I have acknowledged this in previous posts such as this one http://wp.me/pHFIQ-8r. But in reality this plays more to your interests in politics and the economy than it does to the professional status of the CIPD. You may hear the economic editors interviewing Philpott and feel good about the way in which your profession is seen, but quite frankly this means nothing to the vast majority of the profession. Because it doesn’t change the way they are seen in their businesses.

    The profession is now represented by a “highly regarded and heavy-hitting professional body”? Sorry chap but you’ve drunk the Kool Aid. According to who? If you asked the majority of business people which professional bodies they had heard of and which they respected and gave them ACCA, CIMA, ILM, CIM, CIPD etc. then the CIPD would count low on both factors. I know, because I’ve done it.

    So we have a good Chief Economist that you like listening to. Even the worst organisations can make a good hire. It doesn’t equate to huge advances in prestige. Sorry, but your views do not resonate with the HR professionals that I meet and network with on a daily basis, the people that have written and contacted me since I wrote the post. Nor do they resonate with me.

    I’m not anti the CIPD, I believe we need a strong professional body. But that requires wholesale change at all levels within the CIPD. It requires us to take the professional qualifications and standards seriously. And that in turn means taking away the letters from a lot of people. But are we going to do that? Are we hell. Because that my friend is revenue.

    I still love you, I’ll still buy you a beer, but on this one you need to come out of your particular niche and start thinking of the profession in the broadest sense, from HR Assistant to the board room. And you’ll find the CIPD is failing on nearly every front.

    HRD x

    PS. Are you after a seat on their board or something🙂

  3. @BillBoorman says:

    Just a side note, as an outsider i’m watching this battle of views with interest. I don’t know the people so i’m not qualified to comment. I haven’t noticed the CIPD more or less over the last 18 months to be honest, and as I have an interest, my ears prick up when I hear the name. take note of my comments on Theo’s blog, they are just above yours Rick. When a profesional body splinters and forms off-shoots, as has happened with the REC over the last few years, it is weakened for ever. Personal agendas split the REC when it needed it least, prior to the lobbying and consultation over the Agency workers directive and just pre-recession. The industry as a whole has been damaged as a result in my opinion, and is weaker for ending up with 4 seperate trade bodies and a division of the really effective people. I’m not a member, but i’d hate to see this happen to the CIPD.
    As a footnote, I remember Laurrie Ruettimann and other notable bloggers voicing simmilar concerns about SHRM. They are still not, and probably never will be 100% happy with their trade body but their reaction was to renew their qualifications by very publicly taking resits and requalifying. This showed support and reactivated interest in the qualifications and membership by the masses. SHRM is no doubt the stronger and better for it, and this positive move brought everyone back to talking and progressing.
    I’d love to get you both on a radio show to talk through both points and invite callers. it is only a conference call broadcast. i have no view either way so will be impartial. voice distorters can be used to protect identities.
    let me know if you are interested.
    Bill
    PS: It’s a recent discovery, but I love the blog Rick

  4. Rick says:

    HRD – I’m relieved to hear that you will still be going to the bar, especially as the Twitter crew seem to think we will be knocking lumps out of each other next time we meet!😉

    To put this in context, most people seem to slag off their professional bodies including members of the ones you mention. I have friends in finance and marketing who compain that their institutes do sod all for them.

    The way HR professionals are seen in their own organisations is largely in their own hands. All a professional body can do is raise the profile of the profession, which the CIPD does much better than it did a decade or so ago. The CIPD can’t make managers love their HR business partners or CEOs love their HR directors; only the people in those jobs can do that. It can, however, provide better background mood music, which is what I think it is starting to do.

    As for the qualifications, I too wonder how some people qualified or made it to FCIPD status, but I wonder that about some finance and marketing people too.

    And, yes, the CIPD’s reaction to the Tweets was a bit petty but it is their website and they are entitled to do what they like with it. I think some people get over-precious about social media and blogger and twitter etiquette. It may be important to people who use social media a lot but most people couldn’t give a toss.

    I think it’s your round.

  5. Pingback: Trying Behaviour « My Hell is Other People

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