Wednesday, 8 November 2017

#cipdace17 blog 1 - introductions, KN1

So here I am again at the CIPD Annual Conference, known this year as #cipdace17. I think this is 14 years in succession I’ve attended and it remains the best development available to an HR professional in any year, in my opinion. 

I’m again part of the Blogsquad for the third year running and I’m thrilled to be given access to all the sessions and everything to do with the conference. Being part of the Blogsquad is often tiring but it’s such a great opportunity and one I am happy to support CIPD by doing. I, here for a day and a half and will be sharing content on this blog and via Twitter and LinkedIn in support of the conference. 

We start with Peter Cheese giving his usual introduction. This year’s theme is embracing the new world of work, and after a nifty introductory video (a new thing in itself), Peter commented on this as he usually does. He gave a quick potted history of the 70 years of the conference, and what things were happening in society and the world of work around 1947, which included some strikingly similar things to what are happening or could happen now. He also commented on the amazing developments in the world of global politics in the last year, many of which couldn’t have been predicted just 12 months ago. His view on this is that populism and nationalism is on the rise, and attributes this to the need for people to have a voice and a perception by many people that they don’t. 

A challenge that arises from this is how do we create safe environments for people to have a voice. A happy and productive workplace will do that, and be inclusive at the same time. The CIPD are working with lots of other organisations to influence how work and employment will look in the future, and Peter outlined some of their key objectives and partnerships in doing so. 

CIPD believe that the best way to predict the future is to help create it. Peter asserts that HR professionals are ideally placed to leverage all the different bits of research and discussions and projects and to shape the future world of work. It’s clear though that there are many challenges ahead, and more of these challenges will be immediately visible in our new digital age, but he’s right that we are well placed to influence what happens from now on...

The keynote speech was from Baroness Martha Lane Fox. She has had a stellar career and has a CV with some enormous highlights. She started off by talking about how weird it is to be in your 40s (she’s two years older than me) and how difficult it can be to relate to our children who have grown up in a different world to us. She highlighted just how far we have come in the use and development of technology in the last 15-20 years, and it really is scary to try to remember how we used to operate as recently as the mid 1990s before the explosion of the internet and the rapid development of technology. 

She also talked about how bad hires can impact on a company. She commented that it’s often the case when you recruit at pace and in great volume. She gave an example of one person who had a great track record and was a competent professional in his previous job, but was simply the wrong fit at the wrong time for lastminute.com and how this helped her to think more about fit when hiring people and not necessarily look at their existing skill set. 

From lastminute.com she moved on to working with the government about digital inclusion and skills across the UK. She started to understand the makeup of how people used the internet because of this. Many people are great at using it, and take these skills for granted, but too many people did not have the access or skills that were needed. As part of this she began to realise that government itself needed to change how it uses technology, and how much of a challenge this was. 

She passionately believes that everyone should have the same level of access to information. And right now that’s not the case. She sees this in her daily life and highlighted a big gap between the general populace and those making decisions about how society operates. 

She believes that the gap around digital understanding needs to close. She believes that inclusion is key, right down to an individual level. She also highlighted the forthcoming legislation (GDPR) which will give more power to individuals to control and manage their own data and how organisations use that data - this will help shape the future of technology itself. Her third point was about closing the gender gap to help fill unfilled vacancies and challenging the existing cultures in digital sectors - not enough women and other diverse groups are underrepresented in technology sectors and this is currently holding those sectors back. 

She closed by saying we are at a critical point in our own development, but that we are at the slowest point of the development. The pace will only increase. People with digital skills are useful now but their skills will be out of date quickly. People with entrepreneurial skills and people skills who are curious and resilient are critical for the future and we should seek out such people. 

And then we are off to a break. I’ll do another blog on the following sessions later today. 

Till next time...

Gary

PS in other news, I tried helping my son with his GCSE Maths revision last night. I really wanted to help and could see he was struggling but despite remembering being good at maths when I was at school, I couldn’t help with his particular struggles as I just didn’t grasp it myself. Never have I felt so powerless and useless as a parent. Never.