The Company of HR Professionals signs UK Armed Forces covenant
The Company of HR Professionals Signs UK Armed Forces Covenant
The Company of HR Professionals signs UK Armed Forces covenant
The Company of HR Professionals Signs UK Armed Forces Covenant
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Installation Speech of New Master, Stephen Sidebottom

Stephen Sidebottom, Master 2023-24

Masters, Wardens, Freemen, and Honoured Guests, ladies and gentlemen

I would like to start by thanking the Master and Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Grocers for hosting tonight’s event in this beautiful hall. I would also like to thank the Gallant Clerk Karen, Peter, and Debs and Mary in the clerking team for all the amazing work they do and for making this evening happen.

It is a huge honour to be installed as Master of the Company of Human Resource Professionals, so my thanks to the Court and Wardens, Nicki, Richard, and Heather, as well as the Immediate Past Master, John Renz, for his achievements over the past year and the extraordinary effort he and Daniel have put into representing us with gusto and raising the profile of the Company. It has been an enormous pleasure to work with him as Senior Warden, and I look forward to his wisdom and support during my year as Master. He joins an illustrious roster of past masters that include our Founding Master, Robert Potter, Jacqueline Davies, Mark McLane, Danny Harmer, Paul Hucknall, Annette Andrews, and Andrea Eccles.

Livery companies and the City of London have co-existed for nearly 1000 years. The earliest charter was granted to the Weavers’ Company in 1155. These companies existed to regulate trade, to set standards, to train and educate apprentices, and to provide a social support network for members. They were in effect trades unions of an all embracing kind.

Peak Livery was the 14th century when many new guilds received charters or ordinances. By 1515 there were 48, and in that year the Lord Mayor established an order of precedence, ending years of often raucous dispute. By then guilds were known as livery companies. The word livery refers to the distinct clothing, badges, and regalia that guilds use to distinguish their own members from other companies.

We honour that tradition today in the robes and badges we continue to wear. These are a symbol of our status as a distinct community and our connection to an historic activist legacy.

The wealth of livery companies, amassed from the regulation of trade, was a medieval form of insurance for members; early guilds, for example, provided a social safety net, caring for Freemen and Free Sisters in infirmity and old age.

Some of this wealth is reflected today in the extraordinary halls we use and the treasure displayed in them. The silver we see in places like this is not only beautiful but deeply symbolic. These objects represent - in physical form – the strength of the community.

I would like to mark the strength of fellowship in the Company with my Master’s gift. This piece of livery silver is a copy of the 17th century Salusbury Ladle and was presented to the Fishmonger’s Livery to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. It seems fitting to present it now to the Company to commemorate the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.

I’ve talked about the past, about traditions, but livery companies also have a vital future. Today there are 111 liveries, the latest being the Worshipful Company of Nurses. They share the same ethos as the ancient liveries; supporting trade, education, charity and fellowship, and working towards a more just society. The best of the new companies – Including the Company of Human Resource Professionals – have the vigour and zest of the Great 12 in the Middle Ages.

Tradition is an important part of how we come together but it’s not the reason we are here.

Why we come together is because we all believe in the importance of creating opportunities for people to perform and excel, creating inclusiveness and belonging, and putting people first in the world of work.

As a Company we do this through three key activities:

  1. our charitable and pro-bono work with young people and those who are disadvantaged or under-represented in the workplace,
  2. fellowship and professional support within the livery tradition and access to an extraordinary HR network, and
  3. education and professional growth through apprenticeships, mentoring, and the National Leadership Programme; all focused on developing the next generation as part of a community of established professionals. Our Non-Executive Director Programme supports senior HR people as they make a transition to portfolio work.

As a modern company this purpose drives us; we mix charitable work with social activity and celebration. We take joy in the long-view, merging the past and the present - bringing tradition and ritual together to create new opportunities and grow human potential.

So my invitation to you is to join in our common purpose more fully:

  • help us build a stronger community and more perfect fellowship,
  • become active in our pro-bono and development activities,
  • participate in governance through the Court and committees, and, if nothing else,
  • make regular contributions to the Company’s Charitable Trust.

Doing these things will mean we grow and thrive and will set us on the path to achieving full livery status.

Thank you and have a safe journey home.

Stephen Sidebottom