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HR profession grew four-times faster than UK workforce in past decade

The HR profession has grown by 42% in the past decade (from 2011 and 2021) compared to just 10% for the general workforce according to the CIPD’s latest UK people profession update.

Navid Nazemian, former global head of HR at Vodafone and a 2022 HR Most Influential practitioner said the growth has been dictated by rise in HR’s influence.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: "Even the most laggard organisations have realised the true value that an effective HR function can deliver.

“As such, it is no surprise to see that the hiring of HR professionals has very much outgrown the general hiring in the UK workforce.”

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There was a 47% rise in junior roles (including HR and industrial relations officers) and a 40% increase in senior roles (such as managers and directors).

Since July 2017 there has also been 172 advertisements for D&I director roles, 121 of which were posted in the year to July 2022.

2021 HR Most Influential thinker Frank Douglas, CEO and founder at Caerus Executive, said the demand for D&I roles was encouraging yet these professionals are still undervalued.

He told HR magazine: “My experience has shown that when the head of D&I reports into the CPO (most don’t) they are amongst the lowest paid on the team.

“In addition, only one FTSE 100 firm (ITV) has the head of D&I reporting directly into the CEO. The result being that most organisations, recruitment notwithstanding, still have not grasp D&I as a value creation instrument.”

Where the average UK workforce is composed of 88% white people and 12% ethnic minorities, the people profession is slightly less diverse - 89% white and 11% ethnic minority.

Douglas suggested in future the report break this data down into specific ethnicities.

He said: “It would have been more progressive for the CIPD to break that down into black, Asian etc. Ethnic minority is not a monolithic group.

“Further, the fact remains that there are no black chief people officers in the FTSE 100 and, embarrassingly there have only been two in the history of the FTSE. This would imply that there is, possibly, structural barriers to black HR professionals progressing to the top job.”

Over 20,000 senior people professional job adverts between July 2017 and July 2022 asked for applicants to be CIPD certified, yet Douglas suggested more could be done to raise awareness of the value of CIPD membership.

“I have never seen a FTSE 100 job posting for a CPO requiring a CIPD qualification,” he said.

“As such, while there may be value in a CIPD qualification, it would appear to be amongst HR professional themselves versus the leaders of major businesses. In short, we still have a long way to go to prove to CEOs, for example, that the CIPD qualification is a mandatory standard.”

The CIPD's 2022 UK people profession in numbers analysis was published on 10 October 2022 and was produced using statistics from the Office for National Statistics, Croner and Lightcast.