March 4, 2016

The 100 year history of the CIPD

The CIPD’s motto is ‘Championing better work and working lives’ and it is something the organisation has been doing for over 100 years. Ever since its inception in 1913, in fact, although it wasn’t called the CIPD initially. The organisation was formed under the name the Welfare Workers’ Association (WWA) and back then membership amounted to just 34 people, 29 of whom were women. Today, of course, membership is much greater than that – it boasts around 140,000 members worldwide.

In order to understand the CIPD and its early incarnation as the WWA, it is important to take into account the history of the times – the political and industrial tensions, what was happening and why.

Welfare officers, also called welfare secretaries, had been created at the end of the 19th century in a handful of companies and the history of personnel management began here. These welfare officers were women and they concerned themselves purely with the protection of women and girls working in factories.

The early 1990s were the beginning of the modern welfare state. The welfare of workers was under scrutiny, with several factors fuelling this focus – the harshness of industrial conditions, the influence of trade unions and the labour movement, enlightened employers who campaigned on behalf of their workforce, plus certain pressures that arose as a result of political reform such as the Representation of the People Act 1867 (legislation that enfranchised some of the urban male working class in England and Wales for the first time).

The onset of the First World War heralded huge changes in the workplace – namely, the widespread recruitment of women to fill roles vacated by men going to fight. This situation required much negotiation with trade unions regarding the employment of unskilled women taking on roles previously filled by craftsmen.

In 1916, it because compulsory for Ministry controlled organisations to have welfare workers. By the end of the war, there were roughly 1000 welfare workers, 600 of whom had WWA membership. At the same time, organisations started appointing labour officers. Mostly male, these labour officers were tasked with helping the management of what are now typical HR responsibilities: recruitment, discipline, dismissal and industrial relations on a local level amongst unionised workers. The labour officers were also responsible for interpreting the complicated legal framework pertaining to the employment of civilians in wartime production. In particular, they were involved with the rights of workers to challenge the circumstances of their dismissal at Munitions Tribunals.

So it can be seen that the role, scope and status of these early personnel representatives was expanding quite rapidly. Local welfare associations also started springing up around the country, ones that had no connection to the WWA.

Unhappy about that the fragmentation of the welfare movement, the WWA adopted a new constitution in 1917 that had a branch structure incorporating the local associations. This heralded a new name, the Central Association of Welfare Workers, the first of five name changes between 1917 and 1924. The fifth iteration was the Institute of Industrial Welfare Workers (IIWW) in 1924.

The name was changed yet again, less than 10 years later. In 1931, the Association became the Institute of Labour Management (ILM). Why yet another change and so soon? The 1920s witnessed the emergence and increasing prominence of a ‘labour management’ movement. Made up of labour officers and managers, they did not agree with the IIWW’s exclusive focus on welfare and few signed up for membership. By the late 1920s, those involved in the labour management movement were looking to form their own professional association, separate from the IIWW.

By changing to the ILM, the Association could encompass the labour management movement as well. The house journal also underwent a makeover – it went from being called Welfare Work to Labour Management.

By 1939, there were approximately 1800 personnel practitioners in the UK and 44% were ILM members. There were a lot more men now: 40% of the ILM’s membership was male by this time.

By 1945, employment management and welfare work was called personnel management and in 1946, the Institute underwent another name change, calling itself the Institute of Personnel Management (IPM). The scope of personnel work had expanded and was now much more heavily involved in industrial relations and industrial training.

In 1955, the Institute implemented two major changes. Firstly, it restricted entry into full membership by examination. Secondly, it introduced an education scheme, which could be run externally by colleges in preparation for the national exam.

The following year (1994) saw yet another name change. It became the Institute of Personnel and Development, following the merger of the IPM with the Institute of Training and Development. The new Institute now had personnel, training and development traditions all under one umbrella.

Now it was time for the IPM to pursue another long-cherished goal, that of charter status. This was granted in 2000, giving rise to the last and latest iteration of the Institute – the CIPD. Then in 2003, the CIPD awarded chartered status to all its full members, fellows and companions.

In 2009, the CIPD launched its Profession Map, a set of standards for the profession regarding how HR and L&D should behave and deliver services.

And that, for the moment, is the history of the CIPD.

What are the benefits to HR and L&D professionals of being a member?
It enhances your credibility and professional status. It shows that you have achieved certain expected standards and take your professional development seriously. It also encourages you to keep developing as a professional, keep informed, connected and up to date with what is happening in the profession.
There are some exclusive benefits to being a CIPD member, such as access to the latest HR and L&D resources, development tools and networking opportunities.

Interested in studying for a CIPD programme? Register your interest here