CIPD ‘best practice’ called into question after bonus row

HR professionals at the CIPD’s flagship annual conference have accused the institute of lacking integrity and failing to promote best HR practice following a series of controversies this year.

In April, the HR membership body made 41 people redundant the day after it announced the appointment of a high-profile director of HR capability, a newly created position.

Personnel Today then revealed in September that chief executive Jackie Orme picked up a bonus of nearly £60,000 – the subject of much controversy – after staff endured a pay and bonus freeze.

The institute then announced last month it had spent £3m acquiring Bridge Partnership – a deal that some labelled anti-competitive and lacking in transparency,

One Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) member at the Manchester event, an HR manager at a manufacturing firm, told Personnel Today: “There is a conflict between what the CIPD is saying and what it is doing. When you talk about leadership and development you have got to be seen as the role model.”

The individual, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “You have to question [Orme’s] bonus when the organisation is making redundancies. The CIPD must lead by example and make sacrifices as well.”

Sean Connell, a former CIPD member and recruitment adviser at charity Turning Point, said: “The CIPD should think about what it stands for and the implications of what it does. We think very hard about what we do. If an individual is getting a huge bonus and the business is failing, if it is making redundancies, then it’s a question of ethics. The two don’t go together.”

He added: “No organisation could predict the recession, but they could have dealt with the redundancies in a different way.”

Hazel O’Brien, HR manager at Carlton Group hoteliers, also a CIPD member, added: “[Orme’s bonus] flies in the face of reason. Especially when firms are trying to do everything they can to save jobs.”

Other HR managers and CIPD members were quick to defend the institute, pointing out that many companies have had to make tough decisions during the recession, while finding the right balance with reward and recognition.

A financial services sector HR manager, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “What has happened at the CIPD just reminds me that it is in the same situation as lots of other companies, that it functions like other companies and has to make changes and restructure like everybody else.”

The CIPD declined to comment.

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