The last leg. The final corner. Stoppage time. In the last furlong.

Yes! The CIPR elections for 2016 are almost at an end. Over the last few weeks I hope you’ve come to know me better, and the kinds of things that motivated me to stand. Also, that I have a sense of humour.

I posted earlier that I thought it was a time for change – but this doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If we want the Chartered Institute to represent every professional practitioner in the UK – and beyond – then we need to demonstrate our value to the profession and the professional practitioner.

That starts with equality of access. It can’t be right that an 18 year old spends up to four years as a student, then has to spend a further two years to become Accredited; while another 18 year old can start work immediately and become Accredited two years later, but at a greater cost of membership. Or a mature entrant.

Why can’t we even that out? Why can’t we say: ”If you commit to a year of CPD we’ll cut your Associate membership rate by 75%”? Then follow it up with a 50% rate cut in your second year of CPD? And then, since you’ll have to trade up to full membership to get the post nominals, we’ll give you 50% off your first year of full membership (if you again follow a year of CPD)?

Equality of access if you commit to CPD and the basic ideals of the CIPR, whatever your age. Get people in the habit and they might stay longer.

Continuing Professional Development is how we share knowledge and best practice. I see nothing wrong with a student graduating with their degree certificate in one hand and an Accredited Practitioner certificate in the other.

On the road

But we also need to sell the CIPR better, and that means pressing the flesh in the regions. Yes, I know we’re all busy people. But I, for one, am not standing because ‘CIPR President 2018’ will look good on my CV – I’m doing it because I do honestly believe that if we don’t go to where our members are we will have failed them. Our local and sector groups do some great things, but most of the time they’re preaching to the converted. And when they do the sales pitch they don’t always know what the CIPR’s messages are because we keep much of our work behind closed doors.

Groups are either part of the Chartered Institute or they are not. At the moment, it feels like they exist in a half-way state, semi-independent, part-funded by capitation on membership fees and whatever else they can raise, staffed by unpaid volunteers whose enthusiasm starts high but starts to wane when they realise how much of a fight it can be sometimes.

Voice of experience? Yes. Committee retention is as difficult as general membership retention sometimes. I’ve lost some great people over the years and, while I’ve recruited a few too they don’t always have the confidence from the get-go. A stronger support network would work wonders.

Other bodies

One of my nominees noted that I hadn’t mentioned the PRCA in my manifesto (he still nominated me though). My reasoning on this comes down to a simple question: “What does it mean for the members?”

Whether it’s the PRCA, the CIM, the IoD, whoever – the bottom line has to be what benefits our members most. When people join us, they expect us to look after them at all stages of their careers – “Cradle to the grave”, like the NHS. A vibrant, engaged membership helps us defend our turf against all comers. Yes, we should work together on the ‘big-ticket’ things such as pay equality, ethics, lobbying legislation (see logo in the panel on the left) But to me, ‘merger’ is a much dirtier word than ‘spin’. We wouldn’t have gone down the Chartership route if we didn’t think profession and professionalism were the ways forward.

(I may have gone all ‘trade union’ just then, sorry. My dad was a shop steward in the 1970s.)

In summary

Equality. Education. Engagement. That’s my agenda. No pledges – I know how the CIPR works. But I promise to try #ForTheMembers