HR Guild Newsletters – The Herald
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Installation Speech of New Master, Jacqueline Davies

Alderman, ladies and gentleman.

First I must thank John for his speech, to which I shall refer further. I thank the Master of the Skinners Company and her team for hosting us in this beautiful and historical hall. Thanks also to our sponsors Joelson and Henley Business School for supporting this evening.

I’d like to acknowledge the vision of Robert Potter, our first Master for seeing the potential for our profession and for his tremendous energy which has given us such a solid foundation. Thanks also to Freeman Andrea Eccles for her invaluable support and to our sponsoring Alderman, Peter Estlin for believing in us and for connecting us into the City of London. Although we aren’t yet eligible to vote, Peter, we wish you every success in the shrieval election on 24th June.

How then as the second Master will I follow this? Clearly I want to continue building our membership and resources with a view to achieving Livery status in due course. But now I want to summarise the ambition of our Guild this coming year and announce the launch of an exciting new scheme which we need your help with.

As John our guest speaker has flagged we have some history to contend with. My role then is to help us look forward and charge us with the ambition to make new history! We may be the City’s newest Guild but the purpose of modern HR goes to the heart of the City and indeed the UK’s competitiveness. Modern HR means being able to weave together practice from many disciplines and professions – we borrow from many of our peers in across the City’s livery Companies.

From our friends The Marketors we build brands and campaigns to attract talent from every corner of the world.

We look to the Accountants to ensure our workforce – every organisation’s biggest cost – is rewarded in a way that is affordable. We work with the Information Technologists to build modern service platforms, using big data to understand our labour markets. We look to the Solicitors to keep our firms out of tribunals, to the Educators for our people to stay sharp and the Apothecaries for our people to stay well.

Some might say we have much in common with the Firefighters and at times even our hosts the Skinners but that, ladies and gentleman is another story…

We welcome and support the great strides our Chartered Institute – the CIPD – has made in equipping our profession with the skills needed to help our firms flourish today. So what is the unique role of this Guild? One objective of the Livery is to promote excellence in our respective professions. And the kind of excellence that I believe we have a duty to promote is the courage to ask some of the most critical questions of our time. This is the sort of leadership that I think John is looking for from us and which the City and its firms need to continue to thrive in the 21st century.

Over the next year our Guild will build on our purpose of bringing humanity to work and we will provide the insights and space for us to sharpen our leadership in three critical areas:

  1. Leading on from our previous Lord Mayor, Dame Fiona Woolf: Why, in one of the world’s greatest and most diverse capital cities, do we still have businesses that do not reflect the diversity of the consumers and communities we serve?
  2. And, linking to one of the concerns of our current Lord Mayor, Jeffrey Mountevans Why is mental ill health now a leading cause of work absence accounting for a £27billion loss in City businesses alone – how can we change attitudes and generate the well-being so that our
    people and our organisations thrive?
  3. And, looking forward, most critically how in a world where we have seen first -hand the economic damage of a financial crisis, the environmental damage of an emissions scandal and the social damage of Hillsborough, will we create workplaces which are powered by the best of humanity?

We believe our profession must play a leading role to bring humanity back to work and drive this change. This will require:

  • Courage to call out practices which benefit only one interest
  • Empathy to understand and learn from a different point of view
  • Imagination to drive strategy which is sustainable, delivering both financial and social benefit
  • Fellowship being critical friends and advocates of each other and to the next generation

Ladies and gentleman – these are the points on the Compass we’ve used to symbolise our Guild. If we do this, we’ll raise confidence in and the standing of our HR profession.

Arguably, knowing about humanity is our core competence and as some might say ‘there’s a clue in the name’. So let’s get on with it, let’s raise our hands around Britain’s boardrooms and ask these critical questions. Ladies and gentleman will you join us in this work? Wonderful. There is one last, practical matter we need your help with.

I am tonight pleased to announce that the Court has agreed to establish a Future HR leaders Foundation over the coming year. This will recognise next generation talent and encourage the qualities I’ve just described. We will make awards to those demonstrating leadership potential and we will drive further research and teaching in this field. It is our ambition that this scheme will help set our profession and our firms on the right course for success now and into the future.

We are all volunteers here and need your energy, your connections and you generosity to drive this – so please do join us and play an active role in making this Future Leaders Foundation a success. You will be hearing more about how you can become involved in our future communications.

This brings me to the end of our formalities tonight. All that remains is for me to say hearty thanks to my partner Tania, who helped me bend time and without whom I couldn’t do this, the team who has looked after us so well tonight and to John Renz our Clerk and his team for their work in making this evening so special.

Wishing you a safe and swift journey home and I look forward to working with you over the coming year.