Institute comes under fire for the value it adds to HR

Last week’s topical opinion head-to-head with the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development’s Duncan Brown and member Ralph Tribe
generated a massive response from the industry

– I completely agree with the opinion articulated by Ralph Tribe (HR
Viewpoint, 4 March).

I have been in HR for 15 years, operating for the past eight of those at or
near board level in international businesses.

I have attended various CIPD events over the years and have almost always
found them to be poor value in comparison to other events, such as Richmond
Events’ HR Forum.

I have tried to occasionally use some of the services, such as the HR
services register of providers and the education programmes for my team
members. I have never really felt that the company I represented ever received
good value.

Today, I never use the CIPD or any of its services. I am not a member and my
career does not seem to have suffered. I have access to many good education
establishments and consulting services that do provide excellent service and

I do, however, believe that under the right leadership, with a more
developed, modern, customer-focused modus operandi, the CIPD could play a
significant part in our business lives.

Ben Bengougam
HR director Europe, Dixons Stores Group

– I came out of the CIPD some years ago feeling that they did not give value
for money.

I have never once been asked if I am a CIPD member when job hunting, which
proves practical experience is worth more than paying a membership fee.

Karen Winfield
HR executive, Morris Cranes

– I recently upgraded from ‘graduate’ to ‘member’ of the CIPD. I have been
entitled to do this for some time but was only prompted to do when the CIPD ran
a one-day workshop in London to enable members to talk through their
applications and be given an immediate response.

I spent some time talking to the senior CIPD representative present about my
career and my current role. I sit within an HR structure that has recently
outsourced all its transactional back office activities to allow the retained
function to concentrate on a more strategic HR role.

My specific role is management of major HR projects across a global
organisation, regularly providing input to the board, and with management
accountability for project teams of up to 15 senior HR professionals.

After studying the organisation charts that I provided to show my career
progression, the CIPD representative asked the question: "So, where do all
the personnel managers in your company sit?" He followed this up with:
"So, in old speak, your job is kind of a personnel officer’s role."

Surprisingly, he did award the membership upgrade. However, it seems to me
that the CIPD can only truly provide value to its members if it is prepared to
acknowledge the new world of strategic HR and can demonstrate that it
understands the environment that its members are operating in.

I certainly did not leave that meeting with any confidence that the senior
employees chosen to represent the CIPD on that day had any real understanding
of the strategic role that HR can – and does – play in many organisations.

Name and address supplied

– The CIPD does offer a lot of great services to members. The legal advisory
service, for example, has greatly improved along with the useful web
information source facility.

My concerns are more in line with the continued dilution of the CIPD
qualification. The institute seems to hand it out to any person willing to
spend the money on the qualification regardless of any assessment of their
capability to do the job in the first place.

After all, they don’t hand out legal or medical qualifications to anyone who
passes an exam – people in those professions have to have other non-theoretical
attributes measured.

This reluctance to measure other attributes reinforces the myth that HR is a
fluffy profession that adds little value to an organisation. This in turn
damages us HR professionals who are strategic value adders.

I also believe there should be a clear distinction for those who are
graduates. Those who have simply taken a foundation course followed by years of
CIPD exams should not be classed as the same as those who are true graduates.

People should not be able to study for the qualification unless they have
some exposure to all generalist HR issues. I am sure HR professionals would
agree that the best HR learning was on the job and not what they learned in the

Unless the CIPD changes its approach to certification it will continue to
move toward the qualification becoming a meaningless badge.

Jacqueline Christie
Recruitment manager, Manchester

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