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CIPD Conference: HR has to react to remain 'business relevant', says CIPD president

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CIPD president Gill Rider (pictured) has issued a challenge to HR directors, to develop business-savvy and organisational insight and to make sure they bring the “brightest and the best” new recruits into the profession, to ensure HR “continues to respond to business challenges”.

Opening the CIPD Conference and Exhibition in Manchester Central yesterday morning, Rider said: “The economic events in the Arab spring this year and more recently Greece and Italy have provided enormous changes.

“And the G20 has failed to create the 20 million jobs it needs to keep the employment rate constant – and this will have grown to 40 million by the end of 2012.

“The challenges are not just macro-economic, but profoundly personal. Demographics are changing – skills and jobs are changing – and there is a crisis of trust between employees and leadership.”

She added that these changes have put pressure on the HR community to react.

“HR is, and we all are, an agent of change and the pace of change is amazing,” she said. “The cycles of growth and downsizing in some organisations are faster than anyone has known and this day-to-day job for HR directors on top of the strategic [role of HR] has accelerated the need for us to take the challenge.

“The demands on us are growing. We are the only profession that has all the levers. When things work well together, they buzz and this brings extraordinary implications for us.

“HR leaders need to develop business skills more and more and we need to recruit the brightest and the best.” She moved on to urge HR directors to make sure they remain, as she put it, “business relevant”.

“A third of CIPD members have a global responsibility and this is set to increase. It is important you cement global standards – you need to be business savvy and have organisational insight – and you need to get extremely clever to make sure you respond to all these issues,” she warned.