Will the HR profession still be thriving in 400 years? It’s something that Hays group HR director Robert Potter is not only counting on, but taking steps to ensure. The Guild of HR Professionals, masterminded by Potter and a group of senior HR practitioners, was officially installed at a formal ceremony at the end of June, and represents a further step forward in the attempt to raise standards in HR.
Like all guilds, the Guild of HR Professionals exists for three reasons, Potter told HR magazine. Those are: to promote the profession, to undertake charity work and to carry out civic duties. “It’s about enhancing the professionalism of the sector,” Potter added. “It’s about being proud of our profession and ensuring society understands the value of HR.”
Having been officially installed, the HR guild now joins 111 Guilds and Livery Companies that have been accredited by the City of London over the past 800 years. Becoming a formal Guild is anything but easy and requires adherence to strict criteria and the submission of a clear business case to the Court of Alderman.
To meet the requirement of being connected to a body recognised by the City of London, the HR guild is connected to the City HR Association, led by Andrea Eccles, who sits on the Court of the Guild. Other members of the Court include BBC HRD Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth, RSA HRD Vanessa Evans, Post Office group people officer Neil Hayward, and Mike Haffenden, managing director of the Corporate Research Forum. CIPD CEO Peter Cheese is also involved; Potter told HR magazine that the guild won’t attempt to compete with the CIPD, rather it will engage with the senior end of the profession.
To meet its aims of raising standards in HR the guild will be tackling several important areas via working committees. So far these include a diversity and inclusion committee, a public sector committee, a number of reward committees and an ethics committee, which will work with regulatory bodies. There will also be an academic and thought leadership committee, which will work with HR academics to ensure their work is practically applicable. “Academics say that practitioners don’t read their work, so we want to bring academics and professionals together,” Potter explained.
Overall, Potter is keen to “codify” much of what the HR function does. “We haven’t designed some of our tools as well as we could do as a profession,” he said. “It’s about taking HR to a new professional level and setting standards.”
Potter first had the idea of setting up an HR guild five years ago, and will act as the guild’s first master for a year before passing the baton to a peer. But although he came up with the concept he now wants to encourage other senior HR practitioners to get involved with the guild’s work. “I’m saying to the HR profession ‘take possession of this now’,” he said. “What it becomes isn’t a choice for me, it’s a choice for the HR profession. My job has been to initiate and set it up. Then it’s the job of someone else to take it forward.”
He added: “It’s an opportunity to be involved in a guild that will be around for the next 400 years. The exciting bit for me is the enormity of what we are trying to achieve and creating a voice for the profession.”
Find out more about the HR guild
The Guild of HR Professionals is welcoming applications to join from the senior HR community. Applications can be made via the website: www.hrprofessionals.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A year’s membership costs £300, and a founding membership is £3,000 (which includes five years’ membership).