The first livery companies were formed centuries ago and are continuing to be formed today. They serve two key purposes. The first is to foster the trade of a particular craft or profession through activities such as the setting of standards and promoting that trade as well as the education and training of its members. The second is to serve the community through leveraging the skills of the profession aligned to dedicated charitable interests and the welfare of its members. Above all, the livery companies support the activities of the City of London and the incumbent Lord Mayor and stand in fellowship with other companies in this respect.
Today there are 110 City livery companies, all post-1515 companies being ranked by seniority of creation. The 12 highest-ranked companies remain known as the Great Twelve City Livery Companies. Whilst many Livery Companies have their own magnifcent halls in the City, some of the more recent companies share these premises with their older neighbours. The liveries meet collectively in the Common Hall to elect the Sheriffs and Lord Mayor of the City of London and certain City officials and to participate in City and their own ceremonies which are part of their rich heritage.
Livery companies are governed by a Master (alternatively styled by some companies as Prime Warden or Bailiff), a number of Wardens (holding various titles such as the Upper, Middle, Lower, or Renter Wardens), and a Court of Assistants (effectively a board of directors), responsible for company business and electing its Master and Wardens. The Chief Executive Officer is styled Clerk to the Company, and invariably is its most senior permanent member of staff. Membership generally falls into two categories: Freemen and Liverymen or Guildsmen.
The Guild of Human Resource Professionals was officially formed and approved in September 2014 and has now embarked on its journey to become a full Livery Company. It is the Guild's aspiration to meet the criteria set to become a fully fledged Livery Company over the next few years.
To find out more about Guilds and Livery Companies please refer to the City of London website and search under "Livery Companies".