CIPD defends ‘Think HR, Think Again’ campaign following backlash

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has strongly defended its campaign to challenge perceptions of a career in HR, following criticism of the “Think HR, Think Again” slogan that accompanies it.

The initiative, which the CIPD says is designed to tackle existing negative perceptions of HR and recruit fresh talent into the profession, has been met with criticism by readers of Personnel Today and HR blogs.

Think HR, Think Again logo

There have been suggestions among blog commenters that the slogan is ambiguous, and could be perceived as discouraging people to go into HR – the opposite of the campaign’s intention.

The CIPD, however, has encouraged people to look at the slogan in the context of the wider campaign, which has been put together with input from HR professionals.

A CIPD spokesman told Personnel Today: “We researched this and the things people said we needed to challenge were the perceptions of HR as dull, repetitive and bureaucratic.” He added that the campaign was not aimed at those currently working in HR, instead targeting people who might be encouraged to enter HR as a profession that they had previously not considered.

“It’s always possible to pick on an element of a campaign like this, but we want people to take a step back and ask whether the CIPD is doing the right thing. This wasn’t our objective, but at the same time we’ve got people talking. We’ve started a debate that needed to be had.”

The campaign will be featured across mainstream media including newspapers and magazines, and will also include a focus on students and careers advisers in schools and colleges.

Comments on Personnel Today criticising the slogan currently include: “It’s a terrible headline. Awful. Headlines should be powerful, intriguing or at least ask a thought-provoking question. The CIPD one does ask a question, the trouble is, the question is … why?” and: “Even the other way round would read better: ‘Think again, think HR’.”

On the strongly worded My Hell Is Other People, written by anonymous blogger “TheHRD”, some comments were equally critical, with commenters saying: “I too object to my subs being squandered on this type of brainless rubbish. It defies belief this ever got to roll out,” and: “There is no doubt that if we wanted to attract more attention and ridicule, this campaign delivers that in spades.”

The wider campaign has been more positively received, with one commenter on HR Space saying: “I think the CIPD have been bold enough to address the lack of promotion of HR as a career option and it’s the sort of thing I am pleased that my professional body is doing. This is a well overdue focus and in a world where you need something to stand out, this campaign has provocative elements to catch people’s attention. We all know what the HR reputation is – why not make a parody of it and ‘reclaim’ that to, quite literally, make people think again.”

Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency, added her support for the initiative: “At least the CIPD is doing something to showcase HR as a worthwhile career. I’m not going to criticise the CIPD for perhaps not the best advertising campaign, instead perhaps we should all think about how we can be ambassadors for our own profession.”

Georgina Kvassay, CIPD strategy adviser said: “Our ‘Think HR. Think Again’ campaign is designed to tackle negative perceptions of HR head on. We’ve worked with a wide range of people passionate about HR to develop this visually powerful campaign, challenging negative perceptions about our profession.

“At its best, HR today is building agility, addressing the post-credit crunch crisis of leadership in business, and shaping organisations for future success. But all too often the best of HR is drowned out by an unfortunate tendency within the profession to beat itself up and talk itself down.”

To find out more about the CIPD campaign and decide for yourself whether or not it is a good move, visit the website launched to accompany the campaign.

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