In a review of the CIPD’s last financial year (ending 30 June 2020), the CIPD is celebrating the work of 3,528 altruistic members who volunteered their time and expertise to support a range of social impact and innovation programmes across the UK.

The programmes include free employability support for jobseekers, supporting schools to raise young people’s career aspirations and equipping small charities and businesses with critical HR skills. They all have a tangible impact on work and working lives.  

Building on the success of the CIPD’s longest-running social impact programme, Steps Ahead Mentoring, the CIPD launched two new mentoring programmes last year: the ‘Parent Returners’ programme and ‘Aspiring HRDs’. Both programmes have proven hugely popular, a testament to CIPD members’ commitment to delivering change. Volunteers also stepped up to support those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, through two new schemes to provide small businesses and charities with essential HR advice. 

Our year in numbers: making an impact

  • 24 Returner Champions trained to create more inclusive workplaces, contributing to reducing the gender pay gap.
  • 19 Aspiring HRD mentors have driven change to create a more diverse profession for now and the future.
  • We recruited 331 new Enterprise Advisers to shape careers education strategy and inspire the next generation. Since 2015, CIPD volunteers have supported more than 800 schools.  98% of schools say this invaluable support has helped them achieve their Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • Skill Up volunteers gave free HR advice to 11 small charities with limited resources, to help improve their policies and practices.
  • Steps Ahead Mentors supported 172 job seekers with free employability support, with 6 in 10 securing employment.

As well as positive feedback from the beneficiaries, our social impact and innovation programmes received external recognition this year. The Enterprise Adviser programme, in partnership with The Careers & Enterprise Company, won Best Association Partnership or Collaboration at the Association Excellence Awards in October 2019, and our social action team was shortlisted for Team of the Year at the MemCom Membership Excellence 2020 Awards. 

Jemeela Quraishi, Social Impact and Innovation Lead, comments: ‘I’m proud to lead the CIPD’s Social Impact team and inspired by the amazing achievements of our fantastic volunteers. They’ve supported schools to develop engaging careers strategies, helped job seekers secure employment, trained organisations to make more inclusive workplaces, shifted the dial on diversity within leadership roles and provided much-needed HR support to SMEs and charities during these unprecedented times. I’m excited to see our programmes grow and reach more audiences in 2020 and beyond, and would encourage members interested in affecting positive change to get involved.’ 

Essential HR skills for charities and small businesses 

In response to COVID-19, we’ve introduced two new volunteering opportunities for members, to support small charities and businesses to navigate the crisis. In collaboration with the Charities HR Network and NCVO, we’ve been matching CIPD members with small charities in need of free HR advice to help them effectively manage their organisations during this period of uncertainty. And to help small businesses get back on their feet, we’ve partnered with Enterprise Nation and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to provide pro bono support to SMEs. By year-end, these brand-new programmes already had 61 volunteers signed up, and we’ll report on their impact later in the year.  

The Parent Returner Programme: creating family-friendly workplaces

This year, 83 parents in the Yorkshire and Humber signed up to receive free support from our members to help them return to work after parental leave or a career break.  We created this ‘Parent Returner’ scheme using funding from the Government Equalities Office, to extend our long-established Steps Ahead Mentoring programme to this group. Twenty-three mentees completed an evaluation after the programme, and they all said they felt more prepared for the world of work. 

We also recruited 24 ‘Returner Champions’ and gave them tailored training and support to help make their organisations more inclusive of parent returners. We asked each of them to make at least two changes to make their organisational policies or culture more family-friendly, and they all rose to the challenge. The champions reported that as well as helping to close the gender pay gap by supporting women to continue and progress their careers, the programme has helped the employers tap into a wider talent pool. 

Daniella Longden, a Returner Champion at KCOM, commented: ‘It’s been encouraging to see what others have been doing and get some inspiration on what we can do better.’

Peer to peer mentoring for ‘Aspiring HRDs’

Aspiring HRD is a mentoring programme launched in Autumn 2019 to help build a more diverse talent pipeline for the future leaders of the people profession. So far, we’ve matched 19 aspiring HR directors, aiming to move into an HRD role within the next two to three years, with experienced senior leaders. Mentees come away with a transition plan for the next two to three years, as well as greater confidence and an understanding of what they need to do to move into an HR leadership role.  Every mentee in the first cohort said they’d built their confidence and benefited from their mentees’ practical examples and learnings. 

Your chance to develop your skills and give something back

Who knows what the next year will bring, but we know CIPD volunteers will continue to deliver social impact across the country.

We’ve already adapted all of our programmes to meet the demands of the new world we live in and will continue to innovate. Our 838 Enterprise Advisers are now working remotely with school careers leaders to build a virtual careers curriculum for their students, by giving insight into the labour market and sharing employment opportunities.  And our Steps Ahead Mentors are now able to deliver free remote employability support for up to 22 weeks and will be developing the programme further this autumn, to provide immediate bite-size support for young people at risk of unemployment due to the pandemic. 

If you’ve been inspired by the success of our social impact volunteers this year, why not get involved

Members report that not only is volunteering an opportunity to change someone’s life for the better, it’s also a valuable form of continuing professional development.  They get to meet new people, broaden their network and learn new perspectives.  99% of CIPD volunteers would recommend our social impact programmes to others. 

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Championing better work and working lives

About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.