Grassroots call for a more political CIPD

A survey of HR professionals carried out by Personnel Today this week reveals grass-roots calls for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development to be more political.

The findings demonstrate a groundswell of opinion among practitioners in favour of personnel’s professional body adopting a higher profile as well as being more proactive in the political arena.

There was also criticism of the CIPD’s leadership with some saying they are unaware who the institute’s leader is.

The survey comes after new CIPD president Don Beatttie raised the issue at Harrogate of the institute exerting more influence over Downing Street thinking.

Should the CIPD take part in formal talks with ministers, use professional lobbyists and adopt the tools of public relations to influence government policy? Grassroots personnel practitioners have their say

Richard Coombes, director of human resources at Starcom Motive Partnership, media communication group:

“The perception of the HR industry is of a semi-profession of jumped-up nerds with thick glasses telling bottom-line managers what to do – people need to know what we do in HR and how beneficial we can be.

“I see the future of the CIPD as a kind of Law Society or accountancy association.

“We need to have a better public image as we are seen as a group of people who hate numbers, but love people. We need to use PR companies to get our message across and to change and modernise our image. The leadership of the CIPD needs to be stronger. I have no idea who the leader is – is there a leader?

“The head [should be] someone who has risen to the top in business and has a reputation for looking after their staff.”

John Adsett, head of personnel, Basildon and Thurrock General Hospital Trust:

“The CIPD could certainly be more active than it currently is. It would be nice if the CIPD was involved in formal legislation talks, but it must earn its place at the table first.

“Using PR tools, especially professional lobbyists, might be a bad idea. Government ministers deal with them everyday. So, as a function, to get our voices heard it might be counter productive.”

Ian Parkes, director of organisational development, Nycomed Amersham:

“The CIPD should change its function as at the moment I see it as just a nice clubby organisation. I feel it needs to be more active and show a clear leadership.

“The organisation is struggling for an identity and needs to address its members better; at the moment it is nothing but a reference place. PR tricks should be used, to make sure they make a decent job of it.”

Mike Gooddie, HR director GNER:

“The CIPD should be more proactive and influence national decision-making. The CIPD has done a great job but needs to broaden its agenda. The agenda should be set by lots of internal debate and discussion and consultation within the industry.

“There should definitely be a more open dialogue with the Government, the dialogue though should be continuous.

“I don’t like the idea of formal talks as it gives the impression of smoke-filled rooms.

“They [the CIPD] should definitely have been involved in the human rights act.”

Linda Hunt, senior HR administrator, AWR Water:

“Someone has to do it [represent HR in the political arena] as no one is at the moment. They should advise the Government on strategy and legislation so the people have a voice. PR tricks are a bit too radical though.”

Suzan Grant-Foale assistant personnel officer, Anglia TV

“The CIPD should have had a say on the human rights act and the working time directive. They should be involved in the thick end of politics and legislation development with the government and trade unions, although I feel it is to big a step for them to take at the moment.

“I don’t even know who is in charge, so they lack leadership.”

Bruce Robertson, head of HR, Prêt à Manger:

“The CIPD could play a stronger role in lobbying and have a stronger presence, capitalising on it now being a chartered body.

“It could be a powerful group in representing the HR industry as a whole. If it goes into formal talks with unions and the CBI, its role would have to be clearly defined so that the talks don’t get too diverse. I’m in support of [using PR tools]. So much of the Government’s approach is swayed by public opinion.”

Denise Bradley, personnel and payroll supervisor, Pentos Office Furniture:

“The government needs to be able to see things from an HR point of view. New legislation is complex and HR needs to have a say in how it’s formed and how to put legislation into practice.”

Lew Swift, HR director of Aintree Hospitals and member of CIPD:

“I wouldn’t want it [the CIPD] to become overtly political but I’d like to see it stimulate the government’s thinking on employment and employment law.

I do not think the CIPD should lobby government or become political to the detriment of its immediate role as a professional organisation monitoring professional standards.”

By Lisa Bratby and Paul Nelson

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