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Colborn’s Corner – Executive pay comes home to the CIPD!

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Quentin ColbornAs CIPD members may be aware, Geoff Armstrong, Director-General, has announced his retirement from the organisation in June 2008 after a highly successful period in which membership has doubled and chartered status has been achieved. What has also been revealed though is the package linked to the new role which is allegedly in the region of £500,000. The question of whether this is value for money is questioned by Quentin this week.


Executive remuneration is often a highly emotive issue with strong views expressed on behalf of employees, shareholders and societal commentators. My view is pretty straightforward in commercial cases where pay does need to reflect demand for those specific skills. Where I, and I suspect many others, have an issue is when the package comes into play when the relationship goes sour. Payoff of over £1 million are not uncommon in some circles and on occasions these are in relation to poor performance rather than for any positive reasons.

But what of the situation at the CIPD? How many members had read the accounts carefully enough, assuming the information was available, are noticed the package of the Director-General? I have to confess I hadn’t, maybe I’m not representative of all members – but I suspect I reflect the norm. Why is this the case? How much interest do we really take in the functioning of the CIPD? My perception is that there is not a great amount of interest in the Institute.

So should we care about the package offered to the next DG? I think we should unless there is a clear need to deliver new and demanding outcomes for the organisation. Which begs the question where is the CIPD going? I have to confess I have a degree of self-interest here. As an Affiliate I don’t have a deep commitment to the Institute, but perhaps that’s why I’m only an affiliate! Are we heading for the position where an HR qualification is mandatory? If so, mandatory for what? Good HR Management is all about good management practices and it doesn’t necessarily need an HR practitioner to manage people well – in fact I have a seen a number of HR teams that have been poorly managed and led!

How many CIPD members have expressed a view on the package of the DG? All members are stakeholders, but do we really show any interest? If not, why not? Would we show the same reticence within our own employing organisations? Do we think a package of this level is the right level to attract the sort of leader we are looking for? Personnel Today reports that Digby Jones, the previous head of the CBI, was on a salary of £325,000 for a role with a much higher profile than the CIPD.

My view is that the CIPD is getting too big for its boots in looking for a leader at this level. What I think the CIPD membership wants is high quality advice and support on HR matters. Should they have a role in promoting conference and training? Perhaps, but as long as they pay their way.

An interesting question. How many CIPD members opt to continue their membership as a conscious decision rather than simply continuing to pay by direct debit? How many simply continue their membership because their employer meets the cost? How many members, if presented with a request for payment on an annual basis where they had to write a cheque that was not reimbursed by their employers, would choose to do so? I suspect few – tell me if I’m wrong!

Do you feel you get value for money from the CIPD? How would you change the organisation if you could? If a member, what makes you continue to pay your subscription?

Quentin Colborn is an independent HR consultant based in Essex who advises management teams on operational and strategic HR issues. Quentin can be contacted on 01376 571360 or via [email protected]

2 Responses

  1. Executive pay
    As a CIPD member I can say that at branch level the debate about the purpose of the CIPD is discussed but with a feeling that the HQ has a mind of its own and that those elected to serve at HQ level are not minded to challenge the executive. If CIPD members want to challenge HQ policies the answer is to get involved and make your voice heard. For me CIPD membership is part of my professional credibility.

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