New directions for CIPD, new opportunities for the profession

Hello, and best wishes for the New Year.

As the CIPD marches towards its centenary in June, we’re in a celebratory mood, looking back with pride, and a dash of nostalgia, but also firmly focused on the future.

I’ve been in post here at the CIPD for six months. It’s been fascinating getting to know the organisation, and meeting and hearing views from a wide range of people, from HR Directors, members and branch volunteers to Government ministers and civil servants, agencies and institutes, academics and thought leaders.

Now, with the beginning of the New Year, I thought it would be a good time to share with you my thinking about our strategy and future direction.

Faster responses to a changing world

It has been striking to me the level of goodwill and trust that exists towards the CIPD. There’s a widespread pride and sense of collective ownership of our professional body. At the same time, it is clear there are things we need to work on to continue to earn that trust and goodwill, and we have to respond faster to the changing world around us.

I hear positive recognition of the progress of recent years – for example in our standards, driven by the HR Profession Map, new routes to membership, and in the way our research has been driving thinking about the future of the profession.

But I also get a strong sense of ambition for us to do more to respond to the many changes in the world of work and the opportunity for our profession. To engage with business and other leaders to ensure HR and learning and development are playing their part in shaping and building the businesses and organisations of the future. And of course to help define, develop and sustain the professional capabilities needed, with clearer routes to progression to encourage people into the profession and to build their careers.

There are also things we need to change in how we work. We need to become more open, more responsive, and to better recognise and engage with the many different groups and communities we serve – for example learning and training professionals, the consulting community, and being better connected and more relevant to small to medium-sized businesses.

We must also provide more clarity on the strategic themes and challenges which are facing us all and the organisations we serve, and help turn insight into action.  This, in turn, will position us better with the leaders of our profession, as well as with business leaders and policy makers.

Defining our purpose

The first step in reviewing any strategy is clarity of purpose. We've re-evaluated the purpose that drives the CIPD, and redefined it as:

"To champion better work and working lives, through improving people management and development practices to build greater value for individuals and orgnaisations, benefiting economies and society."

This reflects much of what we do already - but sets out a broader ambition that recognises the importance of the roles we all play, and the wider impact we can have.

Our focus and commitments for the future

We’ve reviewed our business and activities, listening closely to the many members, branches, and external stakeholders we’ve spoken to along the way. We’ve focused on improving our core business and support to our membership today, but also looked at how we maintain and grow our relevance, reach and impact in the future. A number of key strategic imperatives have become clear:

  • Extending impact and voice – being clear in our research and policy agendas, and open and collaborative to ensure we’re maximising our influence and impact on behalf of the profession, and making better use of the learnings and insights gained
  • More flexible standards and means of recognition – including clearer direction for different specialisms, roles and career paths
  • New ways of thinking about membership – segmenting our membership offer to recognise the different interests, skills and experience, seniority, and roles that current and potential members have, and better definition of the different professional levels
  • Extending our reach and relevance – such as connecting to and supporting small to medium-sized enterprises, building better relationships with consultants who support and influence our profession, and extending our capacity and capability to support organisations as well as individuals
  • Strengthening branch networks and outreach – building a regional structure in the UK that can help share best practices, support branches, and bring together broader groups to better interact with local and regional communities and partners
  • Clarifying and extending our international presence – responding with a clear strategy and framework to the increasing demand for support internationally, the growing of best practices, and HR and learning skills development and recognition.

This is a broad overview of the main areas we’re working on. I’ll share more of the details over the weeks and months to come. We can’t change everything overnight, but I hope this gives a sense of the breadth of our ambition, and our commitment to deliver real change.

We’re already moving at pace on some critical projects – such as the development of a regional structure in the UK, defining our international strategy, and investing in new systems and infrastructure to improve our processes and responsiveness.

I’ll also have more to say soon on some exciting collaborations – with high profile individuals and organisations – which we’re developing to add extra weight, depth and relevance to a revised framework of research and policy priorities for the CIPD.

As I have said before, I believe there has never been a more interesting or important time for all of us in and around our profession, and I am determined that the CIPD will respond and play its part in shaping the future.

If you have thoughts to add or questions to ask, please comment below or email me at

Thank you for your comments. There may be a short delay in this going live on the blog page as we moderate the comments added to our blogs.

  • One more aspect needs to be included in CIPD direction setting. CIPD is truelly a global organisation. To support this notion one needs to looks towards the emerging markets of Africa for membership recruitment. i think active recruitment will require a review of membership fees and the numbers will come after that as the untapped potential exists.

  • Anonymous

    Cipd needs to have presence in other countries, like SHRM, or Harvard Business School, just for increased accesability - for eg in India, Singapore, et al - which has a hughe catchment of HR professionals , my pennys worth of suggestion after being a Graduate CIPD , since my msc days at the  LSE.

    Have a good year - all!

  • I like the idea about being better connected and more relevant to small to medium-sized businesses.    However, so often these smaller businesses simply can't justify the cost of a dedicated HR and that's where HR professionals fit in.  We can all make a difference by volunteering some of our time to help these groups.  I've done it - give it a go it's very rewarding.

  • No relation to Sally-Ann but I totally agree with her that small companies, cics and small charities etc can't afford to employ a HR person. Some can't afford to hire the services of a HR consultant even. The org' I worked for had a HR issue and it would've cost us £500 per afternoon to hire a professional. We literally can't afford that. It's a big shame as the reputation, of some of these brilliant organisations can be really walloped. HR professionals like Sally-Ann who give their services freely are few and far between. Ideally there would be funding available for charities to dip into when faced with challenging HR issues. We just want to do our best, but it costs.

  • Having read Sally-Ann and Leslee's comments, I agree completely that this is something that should be done in order for SMEs to better compete and HR will be able to play a role in this and show they can add and increase value within the companies.

    How about a forum/website/database purely dedicated for SMEs and HR professionals to 'find themselves?'  The HR person who is able volunteer their time to help a family business / SME would enter their details and the company would say what they are looking for i.e. what level of support they need and they could go from there.  This would be good for those who are not quite ready to retire and for those just qualified from uni and ready to put their HR/BM skills to good use (and build up experience in the process - something many are keen to do).  Would this be easy to administer or am I living in HR cuckoo land?

  • Leslee/Ngozi - many thanks for your feedback.

    I like Ngozi's idea of a database "matching" service to make HR more accessible to SMEs.  

    CIPD - do you know if this already exists - if not, what do you think?

  • Why is the CIPD doing more to complicate membership grades and qualifications? As we have seen from the education sector in the UK, the more qualifications and certificates you produce, the more the quality is distrusted. Also, the more you segment, the more we move back to specialisation - I thought the CIPD wanted HR people to be big picture thinkers? There is certainly a need to expand the influence of the CIPD, not just in the UK but world wide. Here in the Middle East, SHRM and Ulrich and Brockbank are eating the CIPD's lunch. But other things that need to be on the agenda include the gender imbalance in the UK HR profession (women vastly outnumber men, which is not healthy, just as all male finance departments are unhealthy) and pushing hard for a strong vocational / technical education system like Germany's. This is an issue that has hobbled UK business and helped destroy our manufacturing base over the last thirty years. The government initiatives on the table at the moment are a reprise of failed policies from the 1980s and 1990s. Its also worth the CIPD raising the issue of the quality of leadership in our public life - callow, shallow professional politicians with almost no external work experience at all (Clegg, Osborne, Miliband) placed in positions of great responsibility whilst being at the level of "unconscious incompetence". Another major reason for Britain's current plight.

  • One big challenge is to enable line managers to develop their HR capabilities. The Certificate programmes, as they stand, are too HR centric and too clunky. Our line managers need help in upskilling in this area and need something that enables them access to accreditation but is more user friendly.  

  • Anonymous

    Hello Peter, I think you need to come out of the closet and start talking about these issues ASAP. This particular lady was hired into the BBC HR post with a BA in English, no postgraduate HR or Management qualifications or a media sector background. [Edited by moderator, comment under review]. The profession is in meltdown, a dumping ground for useless people, to meet diversity quotas or because of other factors not related to normal selection criteria. Are you going to say something - or just hide away singing Kumbaya like you usually do.