Episode 5

Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD – “We can be the change that we want to see”

Peter Cheese, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development the organisation that represents more than 150,000 HR professionals around the world gives a profound, candid, wide-ranging and optimistic interview. Subjects and themes covered include:

How HR as been centre-stage during the Pandemic and how the profession has really “stepped-up” to meet this challenge;

The new paradigms of work and how flexible/home working is allowing individuals previously excluded from the workforce an opportunity to take part;

HR now has the confidence to place itself at the heart of business as the pandemic was after all a ‘human crisis’

How the CIPD is confronting toxic workplace cultures and championing diversity and inclusivity following the Me Too and BLM movements;

The importance of community to organisations and why it’s positive to have a workforce that is representative of their customer base;

How all of the changes to how, why and where we work is a huge opportunity for the future of the HR profession.

About my guest

Peter Cheese, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development the organisation that represents more than 150,000 HR professionals around the world gives a profound, candid, wide-ranging and optimistic interview to Chris Taylor of Oven-Ready HR.

Transcript

[Chris]: Of all the words that have entered the general lexicon in 2020, furlough is probably the one that keeps this week’s Oven-Ready HR guest awake at night, given the mission of the organisation he runs is to champion better work and working lives.
Millions of workers across the globe were facing an uncertain future. Office buildings are lying empty, and employees are isolated at home. The professional advice and guidance provided by my guest’s, 150,000 plus members, has probably never been more important or welcome.
I’m talking, of course, about Peter Cheese, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, perhaps better known by its acronym, the CIPD. He writes and speaks widely on the developments of HR, the future of work, and the key issues of leadership, culture, and organisation, people, and skills.
Granted a Royal Charter 21 years ago, the CIPD joins an illustrious group of organisations headed by The Weavers Company, who were granted their Royal Charter some 845 years earlier in 1155. Amongst other privileges, acquiring a Royal Charter reflects the high professional standards of the body. Peter. Welcome.
[Peter]: Thank you, Chris.
[Chris]: How would you sum up the effect of the pandemic on the wider workforce, and of course, your members?
[Peter]: It’s clearly been immensely challenging, and what strikes me is that the very beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of discussion about “we’re all in this together.” It’s become very apparent that we’re not all in this together. It’s affected people in lots and lots of different ways. Clearly, some organisations have thrived—the tech companies, the video conferencing companies, logistics companies. There are many who have really, really thrived, and then there are others that have desperately struggled to survive, and then across workforces, we’ve seen again, very different impacts from those who are frontline workers who really have been exposed to much more ways to the risks that the pandemics created. And we’ve all realised that so many of these so-called essential workers and essential jobs are often relatively low skilled, low paid, low visibility jobs.
[Chris]: Yeah.
[Peter]: Then we’ve had, of course, getting on for, I think I said, “between 40 and 50% of the workforce who’d been working from home.” That’s worked for many of them, and lots of surveys, including the ones we’ve done, have shown how people broadly have responded quite positively to homeworking. I’m sure we’ll come onto it, but I think it’s shifted some of the paradigms of work and ideas of presenteeism and so on.
But it hasn’t worked for everybody, and indeed the isolation of many people, perhaps living on their own, working from a bedsit, or very difficult time circumstances is rather different to what many of the bosses might be enjoying, where they’re working from there well-appointed office studies at home. So, I think it’s had lots of different effects on the workforce.
It’s clearly been a very challenging time for our profession, but I think our profession has really stepped up, and I do believe that it will act as a catalyst in terms of a positive outcome of all of this. A catalyst of genuine change and how we think about work or workplaces, or working cultures, opportunity, inclusion, all those sorts of things, in ways which we’ve been talking about for a long time, but frankly, haven’t made enough progress on.
[Chris 00:03:31]: Okay. So, you think that the changes that have been forced upon us, the working from home and the flexibility that’s provided, you think that’s here to stay?
[Peter]: I think it is, but I think it’s also up to us in many ways to make sure that it does stay, that we take forwards, the positive things that we’ve learnt from this pandemic. If we take ideas of more flexible working and recognising flexible working has all sorts of different variations. But let’s start just with the idea of being able to work more from home and having the choice to do so, and I think this is the important thing that we can give our people more choice about certainly where they work and how they work and to a degree when they work as well.
I think that is part of what should be our modern working cultures because it creates much more inclusion, I think. One of the benefits of providing more opportunity for homeworking is it allows many people who might not otherwise be able to come into an office and their regular working hours or whatever to participate in meaningful work and economic activity.
[Chris]: Yeah.
[Peter 00:04:41]: It enables, for example, people perhaps with disabilities or other constraints, as I said, “to be able to work.” So, you’ve got a lot of those things, which I think are very powerful, and we finally might be tipping over from a paradigm of work, which we’ve had for—. Well, I tend to go back interestingly to where did the five-day working week and standard hours all come from?
A lot of people would attribute it back to Henry Ford and the assembly line and what was sometimes regarded as The Second Industrial Revolution.
[Chris]: Yeah.
[Peter]: But we’ve stuck with that paradigm for so long, and I think this pandemic, amongst other things, has taught us that actually, yes, we can work in different ways. People can be productive. We can trust them when we’re not seeing them, and they can work effectively. It can be good for their wellbeing, good for inclusion, and a whole bunch of other things.
[Chris]: Okay.
[Peter]: But it is not that it is one size fits all. It’s much more about, as I said, “being able to give people more choice,” which helps them and, I think, ultimately, helps organisations as well.
[Chris 00:05:39]: What do you think, though? What are some of the negatives here? So, if you look, for example, at creativity. If you look at communication, those water-cooler moments, or those people perhaps are vaping or whatever they are on the fire escape. That sort of level of casual interaction, casual communication within an organisation, has been lost, hasn’t it? And that creativity, in a way, of working together. Would you say that we also go to work, not because actually, just for the money, but actually, we like to be a part of something, and we want to be part of something bigger and have human interaction?
[Peter]: Yeah. So, I think those are two very important points. I mean, taking the second point first, I think what unquestionably, all this enforced remote working and more isolated working has reminded us all is the very important notion of, as you said, “that social interaction and social connection that so many of us get from our workplaces.”
[Chris]: Yeah.
[Peter 00:06:36]: But equally again, it’s not a universal truth. I mean, it’s always struck me and has struck me for a long time that you can go into many offices and you’ll see serried ranks of people in front of their laptops and screens emailing the person three desks away almost in total silence. You think, well, okay. I get the importance of being at work, but maybe this is forcing us to rethink there for what is important when we are in a workplace and reinforcing those ideas. That actually you’re not just there to sit in front of a screen and go home. Let’s create an environment, which encourages a lot more of the social interaction because we recognise the importance of that part of work to our wellbeing.
But also, to your first point about the ways in which we learn. The way in which knowledge gets spread, tacit knowledge, because of the serendipitous conversations, water cooler moments, and so on. They are important, but equally, I’ve heard people; I remember talking to a journalist not long ago, having listened to some a briefing by, I think it was Brent Hoberman. It was one of the founders of lastminute.com saying, “Well, of course, we’ve got to go back to the offices because that’s where innovation happens. It happens in these serendipitous moments.”
I remember saying, “To be quite honest, if your entire innovation, strategy, and culture depends on serendipitous moments, then you got other things to worry about.” So, I think we need to careful not to say, “We’ve all got to be back in the office because that is the only way that innovation happens.” When, in fact, one of the big learnings that I have heard so consistently from organisations during the lockdown is that actually, they have innovated faster. They’ve made decisions quicker. They’ve gone on and done stuff, which many, many times we’ve heard people say, “We’ve done things in weeks that it would take us months or years to do before.”
So, as I said, “I think it’s important to keep this all-in perspective and say, ‘Yes, let’s understand that one of the key parts of going to work is a social interaction.’” Now, does that mean to say I got to be in the office five days a week, all the time in order to have social interaction? No, it doesn’t.
Secondly, do I create environments which encourage more social interactions, so when people are in the office, that is definitely something that they’re getting as part of being there rather than necessarily locked in their cubicles?
[Chris]: Okay.
[Peter]: Thirdly, that we do—
[Chris]: So, it’s—
[Peter 00:08:53]: I was going to say, and thirdly, we really don’t understand this idea of innovation and connection, which we’ve got to enable both remotely as well as when we are physically together, and these sort of hybrid ways of working, which I think will be part of the future. We’ve got to understand the connections and all the different ways that they happen to encourage innovation to continue.
[Chris]: Okay. So, you’re saying quality over quantity in terms of being in the office.
[Peter]: Yeah. I think that’s a good way to summarise it, and as I said, “I think it is about creating more choice.” I think most people, by and large, and I’d even include myself in that would say, “Yeah, you know what? I mean, if I could come into the office three days a week, that’d be great. Maybe some weeks it’s slightly different, depends on what’s going on, and maybe I can work from home a couple of days a week.” Things of that nature. Just a more flexible, overall way of working. Whereas I said, we’re giving people more choice in how they work.
[Chris 00:09:48]: Okay. I guess, I suppose that what I’m looking at the people that have been new hires, for example, that have taken jobs during this pandemic.
[Peter]: Yeah.
[Chris]: I guess it’s been very difficult on them to meet colleagues that they’ll be working with.
[Peter]: It has.
[Chris]: Okay.
[Peter 00:10:04]: Yeah. That’s really important too because obviously it’s such an important part of induction is actually just meeting people. Then again, this sort of tacit learning that happens in a workplace where you sat next to your new colleagues, and you’re just able to lean over and ask them a question. Yet, we’ve done it. Haven’t we? I mean, even within the CIPD, we’ve recruited 30-40 people since the lockdown. We’ve been going through a lot of change ourselves, and so we’ve had to adapt. We’ve had to learn how to induct people. Yeah, and some will, of course, find it a little harder.
I’ve watched my own children. I got two of my daughters have started new jobs during the lockdown. It’s working for them. I mean, they’d say yes, of course, they’re looking forward to the time when they can actually meet their colleagues and sort of figure out how tall they are and things like that.
But also, to your point about induction. Recognising that actually yes, of course, it is a little harder, and managers and team leaders have got to work very closely with their teams, particularly with the new joiners to connect with them on a very regular basis to make sure that they can just feel like they can give them a call or whatever. They don’t have to set up a meeting every time, just to be able to interact, and I think that’s, again, a learning that we’ve taken forward. So, it’s not impossible, but it’s recognising, yes, of course, you’re missing some things that you would normally have in a face-to-face environment.
[Chris 00:11:28]: Okay, so all of these changes. What do you think has made your HR colleagues in the CIPD? What do you think that’s pointing us to do now? What’s changed for us?
[Peter]: I think it’s pointing us to go forward with real confidence that we can, as a function of, as a profession, adapt, innovate, and work really closely at the heart of business. I think an awful lot of HR in the past. We haven’t always had the confidence. We’ve got a bit buried in our own processes, and not always connected well enough with the business, not always understanding the business well enough. Yet, I think the pandemic has really forced a shift in all those ways. Because at the end of the day, the pandemic was a human crisis.
[Chris]: Yeah.
[Peter 00:12:15]: And yes, of course, we had lots of logistical challenges of people having to work remotely and all these other things and then looking after essential workers and frontline workers, but it’s a human challenge, and HR as a profession, as a function has been at the very epicentre of the response in most organisations really, really helping leaders to understand how they’ve got to communicate. How are we going to work with our people? How we’re going to put wellbeing front and centre, and how the people agenda, the people part of our business, must be front and centre now in our business thinking.
I think that’s been a very big shift, and it should give us real, as I said, “optimism and confidence about the role that really good HR does play and should play in organisations for the future.” I think that’s something we’ve got to build from.
[Chris 00:13:02]: Okay. When I spoke to Dave Ulrich a couple of weeks ago, he sort of echoed much of what you’re saying. He said that “one of HR’s issues is it hasn’t really understood business. It hasn’t taken the opportunity to understand business.” Do you think that’s changing for us?
[Peter]: Yes, it is, and it was changing. I mean, to be fair, I think it was changing before the pandemic. There have been many things changes that have been driving this. I mean, a lot of debate. Certainly, in my experience, more discussion about things that in the future work in the last sort of 10-15 years than I’d ever seen before.
All this debate about digital disruption, changing jobs and roles, very different types of organisational models is no longer best practise, a one size fits all. There are lots of ways that you can work, a stronger focus on things like wellbeing, inclusion, et cetera, et cetera. So, all these things were, I think, anyway, starting to force our profession to step up to better understand and work with the business.
But I’ve always said it’s a two-way street as well, and that is that many business leaders, in all honesty, don’t really understand the people side of business well enough and into what HR is a function, therefore does. I think, as I said, “because of many things that have been happening, even leading up to the pandemic, that was beginning to shift as well.”
So, then you get a stronger demand coming from business leaders to say, “I want HR people around my table. They must understand the business. They must be involved in the discussions of strategy. They got to help me with solving the skills issues and skills gaps, which have become more and more challenging for organisations everywhere. They’ve got to help me understand things like culture and how I get the best out of my people.”
So, that would have been steadily growing, but the pandemic unquestionably in my mind, and I think many people’s minds, is as a catalyst, is an accelerant for a lot of these ideas, which is why without being crass about it because the pandemic has been awful in so many ways, but I think as an outcome we’ve got to look to the positives of what it’s taught us as businesses and organisations and leaders.
But also, what it’s taught us as an HR profession about how we really do work hand in glove with the business. HR is a business function. It’s part of business. It’s not some standalone thing, and I think that has really been, as I said, “accelerated because of what we’ve gone through in the pandemic.”
[Chris 00:15:36]: Do you think, though, that having an HR or a chief HR person around the board table is very much more apparent in an FTSE 100 organisation than it would be, for example, in a small to medium-sized enterprise with 200 staff or a start-up. Do you think that’s where HR really does struggle to have a voice?
[Peter]: Yeah, I think it is clearly more challenging when you’re in a small business, then obviously having the capacity to have focussed resources on HR at the more strategic level. I mean, as you know, what you’ll typically see, of course, in a small enterprise is you’ll have maybe a few HR people, but they’re more likely to be focused on, if you will, the more transactional elements of HR. Making sure the payroll is running and terms and conditions and policies and basic recruitment.
Whereas some of the things we’re talking about here about these much bigger and more strategic agendas and obviously as you touched on in a large corporate with big HR teams and functions and lots of capabilities, then yes, absolutely. I think we’ve seen for a while the steady emergence of HR around the top table.
Thank goodness we’ve moved beyond the debate, which we have for so many years about, “Well, I want a seat at the table.” I’ve often said that in my view, “the seat was there for the taking.” All the trends I talked about, I think, made business leaders much more aware of the need for the voice of HR, if you will, around the table. But the seat was there for the taking.
I think what we had to be honest about was, were we prepared and ready to take it? That’s part of the development and the maturing, I think, of the HR profession and the confidence of HR in a much more strategic space.
But to go back to your point about smaller businesses. Obviously, it is a little harder just because of the resources, but again, it’s about focus. I mean, small businesses operate in the same context. They are just as much as large corporates. They are worrying about being able to recruit and retain the right people, creating a culture of high-performance and of learning and all the things which are so much part of our strategic agendas now.
So, it’s about where you want to place your priorities. There’s no reason to, even for a 200-person organisation that you couldn’t have, perhaps a more experienced lead in HR who really can participate that’s part of the senior management team if you see that that’s a critical priority for the business. As I said, “In my contention, it doesn’t matter what size of business you are, we’re all operating with many of the same constraints, and recognition is the importance, therefore, of people within our organisation.”
[Chris 00:18:23]: Okay, because I had a call recently from a recruitment firm, I don’t know, 20-25 staff, something along those lines, and he said, “I think I need to do something about company culture. I think I probably need an HR person, but I don’t know what I need to ask, and I don’t really know what you do. Can you explain?” Actually, I thought it’s a really good point. I need to think about how I’m going to respond to this. What would you have said?
[Peter]: Well, I would just said some of the things we’ve touched on, Chris.
[Chris]: Okay.
[Peter 00:18:54]: I mean, the reality is that businesses are made up of people. I mean, somebody said to me a long time ago that “in the end, all you’ve really got in any business is money and people.”
[Chris]: Yeah.
[Peter]: Even if you’re running a very capital-intensive business, it’s still broadly true. You’ve got money and people. Now, we’ve spent a lot of time worrying about measuring and understanding finance, and you’ll always find a finance person at the top table, whatever it is. It used to be the start in at 60% plus the CEOs that come up through the finance route. So, I think there’s a really important point in your story, which is that we haven’t done enough to educate leaders of what is HR? Why is it important, and what are the issues we need to understand?
I’ve worked a lot with business schools, and I’ve often said to them, “Why aren’t we teaching in business schools if that’s a place where leaders learn? Why aren’t we teaching them much more about understanding things like culture and people and the people dynamic and leaders and leadership and all those other things?”
Because the paradox of this also is that whilst you gave a good example there of a leader who said, “Well, I don’t know what HR does.” My response would be, “Well, tell me what you think are the biggest problems that you face, and then I’ll tell you what HR can do.” You know, it’s back to point at the linkage to the business priorities.
What I have consistently heard from many, many leaders is when they really drill things down, they say, “Well, yeah, of course, well, I’m worried about strategy. I’m worried about the market, or I’m worried about my cashflow, or I’m worried about my products being positioned in the right way.” But then they’ll very quickly move on to, “Yeah, what I do worry about is, have I got the right leaders in the organisation? Are people performing to their best ability? I know I’ve got some skill gaps, and how do I fill them?
So, in many ways, I almost answer that question with a question, which is, “All right, you tell me. What is it in your business that is most troubling you, most challenging you? And then I’ll tell you where HR plays its role.”
[Chris]: Okay.
[Peter 00:21:02]: Because I think a lot of the history of HR is people thinking, yeah, it is just about doing payroll and transaction, and administrative stuff. Yet, actually, HR, managing people and all the things we’re talking about, is fundamental to every single business. It’s not always articulated quite in those ways.
[Chris]: So, if you’re a small to medium-sized business and you’re looking for HR support, and you see someone, and they have CIPD on their CV. What should that convey to them?
[Peter 00:21:33]: Well, it should, in the first instance, convey to them that you’re dealing with somebody who knows what they’re doing. They’ve got a professional qualification. There regard, therefore, their professional competence and continued professional development, which is a very important part of what it means to be a professional is absolutely fundamental to their ability to do that job.
So, it’s like any profession, whether it’s a finance person or a legal person or whatever. These should be badges of confidence, if you will, in the individual that they know what they’re doing. They’re investing their skills. Other things you can say about a professional is they’re subject to things like code to conduct.
To go back to your earlier story, I think, often what I’ve found particularly in smaller businesses is that they don’t always understand sometimes even the questions they should be asked, and they think it might need an HR person. They say, “Well, I met this person down the pub, and they said they knew something about it, so I brought them in.” But actually, you’ve got to see HR as a profession just as much as we think of finance or marketing and other things. Hence, as I said, “My passionate belief in the need to up-skill and re-skill the profession as well, and to having holding professional qualifications, whether it’s Ross or anybody else, as a badge that I am confident what I do. I keep my skills and capabilities up to date. I’m subject to codes of conduct and practise just like any professional, but I’m also part of a wider profession and community, which I not only represent and hopefully represent with pride but that also I learn from. So, the sort of community practise, I think, is a very important part of what it means to be a professional and part of a professional body.
[Chris 00:23:23]: Okay. In terms of codes of practise and professionalism, do you think that HR professionals have been vocal enough about things like racism and bullying and the Me Too Movement and BLM? I mean, there’s been a number of cases. Obviously, there’s no point delving into them, but really high-profile cases of business leaders who have behaved extremely badly, and it would seem that the HR function had rather done very little about it.
[Peter]: Yeah, I think there are very important challenges, which we’ve got to confront, and again, of course, it’s a very broad spectrum in a very big profession.
[Chris]: Okay.
[Peter]: There are some organisations and HR leaders and individuals who have done this really, really well, but you’re right. I mean, if you look out across business and society today and say, “What are some of the biggest things that are confronting us?” Well, they do range from this point of too many organisations, toxic cultures, bullying, harassment, and other things, which have been very, very longstanding, part of it of a culture that’s just grown and grown, which we haven’t properly confronted.
Sometimes it takes real courage to be fair to the profession, to confront these things, and I’ve talked many times with HR leaders who said, “I was working in a culture like that. I was told just to get rid of people or whatever by the boss, and then I’d said, ‘Look, I’m not prepared to do that. It’s not the right thing to do, and we’ve got to address these sorts of issues in terms of the cultural behaviours,’ and the boss says, ‘Right. If you don’t want to do it, I’ll get somebody else that will.’” So, it’s tough, and part of the professionalism point is to give us more confidence to challenge these things.
[Chris]: Yes.
[Peter 00:25:08]: Because as I said, “I think, in dealing with the tough issues and business, we have got to be confident and strong about how we confront it, and we’ve got to bring good evidence to leaders who are often still very sceptical, and say, ‘This is why you’ve got to address it. Here’s the evidence, and here’s what we’re going to do about it.’” And not just bullying and harassment, but all the way, of course, into these critical subjects of race and racism at work.
Again, we’ve been talking for a long time about diversity inclusion and increasing truly inclusive cultures, and if we’re honest, we have not made enough progress. There’s been a lot of policy stuff and gender pay gap reporting and now debates that ethnic pay gap reporting some more transparency, and I believe those are important levers, but they’re not sufficient of their own. We’ve really got to understand our cultures, our processes, our policies, our mindsets within organisations about inclusion, and we as a profession and a function have a primary responsibility in helping to address and solve those challenges.
As I said, “We’ve got to bring the evidence.” We got to know, is our organisation diverse or not? What is the lived experience of people from ethnic minority communities or different communities and segments within our workforce? What is their real lived experience in the organisation? Are our policies and our training and all these other things really working? Are they shifting the mindsets? Have we got leaders who are acting as role models, and are we progressing diversity right to the very top of the organisation? These are big and important questions and challenges, and we need to step up on them as a profession.
The second thing I would say is we’ve also got to some degree address it within the profession itself. We’ve talked very openly as the CIPD about the fact that we need to address that and support the profession in addressing even greater inclusion within the profession itself. We need more diversity in the profession. We need to encourage people from very different backgrounds into the profession and through the profession, so that, to quote Mahatma Gandhi, “We can be the change that we want to see.”
[Chris]: Yeah.
[Peter 00:27:12]: So, as I said, “It’s not like these again were entirely new things,” but we had not made enough progress in unquestionably the pandemic, but particularly, as you said, things like the Black Lives Matter Movement have really brought this to the forefront of people’s consciousness and attention. And what I certainly, and I’ve talked about this subject for a long time, have really learnt particularly from the Black and the Asian and minority ethnic community is enough is enough. We’ve talked about this for too long. This is about action. This is about really, really showing that we understand the issues and that we’re going to make change, and for all the right reasons incidentally too, Chris. I mean, as I’ve said, “I’ve talked about diversity inclusion for a long time,” and I said, “Well, let’s start with why would this be important to you as a business?”
To go back to the small businesses, when they’re struggling with lots of things, like, “Oh, my goodness. Now I’ve got to worry about all this? How am I supposed to do that?” Yet, if we start from, why would this be good for business? Well, it’s good for business for a whole host of reasons. First of all, it’s about access to talent. The more you open up your channels of recruitment to very different and diverse talent pools, the more you can fill your skills gaps. The more diverse the pool of talent that you have in your organisation, then the more you’re going to drive innovation because we know that’s where innovation comes from. It comes from different perspectives, different experiences, and different backgrounds.
You’re also building an organisation therefore that is more representative of your customer base. It’s incredible when you think about organisations in the past that have not represented their customer base because they’ve tended to recruit from the same places and then missed huge trends in what their customers think. Now, of course, we’re in a world where customers themselves are looking at organisations and saying, “I want to see more people like me in your organisation.” Media companies and all those consumer products companies are at the forefront of this.
Another very important point is that I want organisations that reflect the communities which they are part of, and this is a vital, vital agenda in terms of what is a truly responsible business. A responsible business reflects and is part of the communities and societies. It’s not apart from communities and societies, and it’s got to act therefore in that interest as well.
So, as I said, “I think the dial is definitely moving on this stuff. We have to take action. We can no longer just sit and debate these things, but we’ve got to continue,” as I said, “to educate, bring the evidence, and remind ourselves why this is important. It is important for a whole host of reasons, and not just because fundamentally it is the right thing to do.”
[Chris]: Okay. No, perfect. So, against the backdrop of artificial intelligence, technology, pandemics, all the challenges, and changes that are coming to the workplace, you sound very confident about the future of HR. Is that right?
[Peter 00:30:08]: Yeah. So, I am.
[Chris]: Okay.
[Peter]: I am. I suppose, in many ways, I’m a natural optimist. I really like to look ahead and to think. I’m curious. Honestly, if, as I said, “You look at all the things that have been driving work and all these big trends, you think, my goodness. I mean, what a rich array of things that we have to think about and work with as a profession, and the difference that we can make.” Which is why as you said at the very beginning in your introduction, “I mean, when we think about what we do as the CIPD and what we believe is a critical purpose for the profession, it is to champion this idea of better work and working lives for all.”
There’ve been far too many issues in work. We’ve talked about quite a number of them—lack of inclusion, bullying and harassment, toxic cultures, people not having opportunity, not being able to progress, wellbeing issues, et cetera, et cetera. We’ve had these issues growing and growing for quite some time. You look at all the trends of engagement, and it’s a whole host of things, and say, “Well, this is what our purpose is, is to create better work for all and give people more opportunity.” That’s good for business. It’s certainly good for society, and it’s good for our economies at large.
I think if we focus our minds as a profession, and indeed I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek and ask why and all those questions. What is the purpose of what we do? And if we anchor ourselves on that and you think, gosh, yes, it given that sort of purpose, and given what we’ve come from and given what we need to shape for the future, that’s got to give us confidence as a profession that we can make a real difference and a profound difference not to just business efficiency in financial outcomes, but to people’s lives and to society more widely. I think that is a goal and an aspiration, which we should hold very close to our thinking.
[Chris 00:32:01]: So, I sense then, actually this is our opportunity as a profession, and we need to go out and grasp it.
[Peter]: I’m very much of that view. I think as we’ve said, “The catalyst of the pandemic is one which we’ve got to take and not just our profession, but business everywhere.” But I really strongly believe that our profession is very profound role to help to drive forward in this pandemic on the things we’ve learnt to improve many, many aspects of work and working lives that we’ve touched on. We’ve got to have the courage and the conviction to do that. I think we’ve, through the pandemic, created a different context in terms of how so many businesses and business leaders are thinking and combine that with all the other changes going on, digital disruption, all the rest of it. I think this is absolutely our moment, and I think we’ve got to take it.
[Chris 00:32:53]: Peter Cheese, thank you very much.
[Peter]: My pleasure, Chris.

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