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The CIPD has got a wide ranging membership, from those beginning their careers to those at the top of their profession. But beyond getting the letters to your name, is the CIPD really doing enough to make a difference to its members. In an age of austerity where everyone questions the value they’ll be getting for every pound they spend, is the CIPD justifying their subscription to its members?
I was struck in the recent edition of People Management (the monthly CIPD magazine) by how it chose to cover a recent high profile article in the Daily Telegraph which suggested HR as a ‘pointless’ profession and urged people not to enter it, following the recent Lucy Adams/BBC debacle. Would it come out fighting in a stand of solidarity to defend the integrity of its members’ profession? Quite the reverse in fact – the only article it could produce was one that relied on comment from the HR community with a series of non-descript tweets and comments from those who did wish to express their opinions. I think many in the HR profession still give the impression of feeling a bit insecure about the value they’re seen to bring, and leap forward a bit too desperately to extol their virtues. HR has moved well beyond the point of needing to justify their existence to others these days though, despite the views of a few ill-informed journalists! Nonetheless, in the face of such high profile criticism of the HR profession the CIPD’s efforts seemed weak to say the least.
As someone who’s spoken with thousands of HR professionals at varying stages in their careers, it’s clear many hold different views on the CIPD and the value it brings them. From the perspective of a recruiter in the HR arena, CIPD holds a weight and value as an often quoted necessity in the shortlisting criteria, and in most cases this seems legitimate. A commitment to professional development, providing a solid foundation of HR knowledge, demonstrating learning ability, a professionally accredited and benchmarked level of achievement, an interest in your field of expertise, all indicators an employer may well look for. As a recruiter I personally advocate the CIPD qualification for all these reasons, especially to roles with an operational focus where the employer can take comfort the basics should be covered – although even then there will be times when experience and aptitude should trump qualification. However, when recruiting for more senior level HR roles, the prominence of the CIPD qualification starts to diminish, and other studies of a more strategic nature will tend to be more interesting to the employer – MBA’s, Masters degrees or advanced studies in specialised subjects such as Organisational Change, OD etc.
The CIPD does seem in recent years to have recognised the need to offer more at strategic level as well, but is it working? I don’t meet many HR Directors who seem to cite the CIPD as their primary source of thought leadership or strategic influence. HR Director magazine, Executive Grapevine, Changeboard, LinkedIn networking groups, networking seminars are just some other forums by which the HR community may be keeping themselves up to date or at the cutting edge of their professions. Business schools are the next step for professional learning to most people in strategic HR positions. So is the CIPD losing touch with a community to whom them have perhaps unrivalled access, is it being innovative enough, is it being bold enough, is it being proactive enough to tap into its members? I know many HR Directors who don’t even tear off the packaging of People Management after it’s arrived through their letterbox, let alone even contemplating attending a CIPD branch event! Probably even more worrying for the CIPD however is to see those who operate at more tactical levels decide to lapse their membership as they see it as a waste of money having now shown they’ve got the ability to get the qualification. The CIPD is great in many ways, but I suspect it still really offers its core value to those engaged in studies to get the qualification, but what about the rest – is it complacency or a lack of ideas that is hindering them to connect with all their membership?
Ironically the BBC and CIPD (and doubtless other professional membership organisations) could face similar problems in the coming years – that those paying a subscription every year may well turn around and decide – am I getting value for this, am I consuming this service, is it time to take my money elsewhere? Does the CIPD recognise the challenge and is it going to stand up to be counted? Debate on twitter #pointlessCIPD