HR professionalism: what do we stand for?

Steve Bridger

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Community Manager

6 Feb, 2017 23:21

You may or may not have seen this new CIPD report, which explores the work identities of HR professionals and implications for principled decision-making.

Louisa Baczor asks, 'What do we stand for?"... which reminds me of the question Farah asked a few years back:

Too nice for HR? Discuss...

  • Funnily enough, during my recent Level 5 studies, my best mark - over 90% if you are asking ;-) came from an essay exploring the concepts of professionalism and ethics within HR. I particularly discussed the pressures on those working within HR to remain 'true' to the profession when asked to participate in and sanction un-ethical behaviour. Obviously some of the high profile examples that have hit the headlines ie Sports Direct and the banking sector are well talked about and people have rightly questioned what HR was doing in these situations, but as an avid reader of these forums I can see that there are examples of this struggle nearly every day, albeit on a smaller scale.

    Excellent advice is always given, particularly by some of the long standing contributors and good debates are had, but it goes to show that members (and the many, many people working in HR without access to membership and the resources therein) are under constant pressure to behave in a way that puts the interests of managers/organisations ahead of the Profession, and the line can be easily blurred in terms of being professional and a member of a Profession.

    Being ever so slightly controversial (on only my second post as well…..eeek) I also had thoughts about the extent to which the CIPD itself has a role to play here. Whilst those of us that engage with the forums as well as all of the other fantastic resources eg CPD map, are constantly evolving and are hopefully more likely to have the courage to challenge unethical behaviour, once you become a member of the professional body, there are actually no requirements to retain membership (other than paying the fees…). Whilst we also sign up to abide by the Code of Conduct, again being slightly controversial, I imagine that this is only an issue if someone were to report you, and I’m interested in how often, if ever, this occurs. I wonder if a more rigorous approach to retaining membership through CPD logging and assessment may increase the importance of the Professional body to its members, thus reflecting the distinction between being a member of a Profession, rather than just being professional?
    I don't mean that as a dig...I am only in my second year of membership so perhaps I am being a bit naive...*puts on tin hat in anticipation of response*
  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    21 Feb, 2017 14:06

    In reply to Angela Jellyman:

    Fantastic post, ... which I will share with CIPD colleagues :)
  • In reply to Angela Jellyman:

    Hi Angela, thanks for your feedback and for not holding back – it’s really important for us to hear your views uncensored like this.

    The tough decisions HR professionals face every day, which you’ve seen people navigating together in this online community, has also been a common theme in the conversations we’ve been having over the last two years to inform our thinking around the future of the profession (see more at www.cipd.co.uk/pff).

    One of the roles the CIPD plays as a professional body is in providing opportunities for professionals to learn from each other, and we know that the support and advice our members get from their peers through our online communities and face-to-face networking events is invaluable. It makes our members, who often work alone in an organisation, feel part of a wider community of professionals who ‘have their back’, so to speak. But we’re also keen to make sure we’re supporting our members with these challenges more directly – how can we equip you to navigate these tough decisions when there’s no obvious right or wrong path to take? And what about when you’re facing a scenario that no one’s ever faced before? (let’s face it, the world of work is evolving so quickly that this will increasingly be the case). And when you’ve reached what you consider to be the ‘right’ decision, how can we influence the wider world of work to help ensure that your advice doesn’t fall on deaf ears because other stakeholders in your organisation don’t share your values or trust your judgement?  We want to make sure that our new professional standards framework provides the answers to these questions. If you or others reading this would like to get involved in shaping the framework, please join us in London on 29 March, for a series of interactive workshops (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/shape-the-future-of-the-people-profession-tickets-31450518347). Or, if you can’t make it to that, keep an eye on our website for other opportunities to get involved and have your say – we want to get as much input as we can, from people professionals like you all over the world.

    Your point about CPD is really well made. A commitment to CPD is already a requirement of CIPD membership, as well as adhering to our Code of Professional Conduct, but we’re exploring ways of strengthening the governance around that without becoming too prescriptive. It’s important to us that CIPD membership really stands for something – that it sets you apart as a credible and trusted expert on people at work. Continuing professional development is key to this, but we don’t want it to become a box-ticking exercise - it needs to be part and parcel of what it means to be a professional. Although the CIPD has a role to play in governing that, we also need to stand united as a profession and hold each other to account for CPD in the same way we already do in relation to the Code of Conduct (see here for more info that should answer your question about how often we receive complaints: https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/what-we-do/professional-standards/code).

    We think that a stronger sense of professional identity, encompassing a shared commitment to CPD as well as ethical standards, will help our members stand united and have the courage and expertise to challenge unethical behaviour. Our new principles-led standards framework, as well as the work we’re doing to build HR’s influence and credibility in the wider world of work, will help facilitate this - but we’d also love to hear from you and other members of this community about what professional identity means to you, and how you think we can all work together to build a shared identity we can all be proud of.

    Ruth Stuart, Head of Strategy Development - CIPD

  • In reply to Ruth:

    Thanks for your comprehensive answer Ruth, and to Steve for passing on my feedback. I will certainly keep contributing to the discussions, although unfortunately I am unable to do the London workshop.
    I genuinely believe the resources, networks and community within the CIPD is contributing to improve the professional identity of those working in HR. I personally have grown enormously in my 18 months of membership, and I appreciate having the platform to be able to get my views heard directly by those who are shaping the profession for the future.