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Lessons from the CIPD conferences: creating a culture of transparency

What a week at CIPD ACE in Manchester. Our team were busy on-stand and I was heading around the conferences, keeping my ear to the ground on all things HR and L&D.

My name’s Alice, Content Manager, HR enthusiast, and resident copywriter here at Kallidus, and I wanted to share with you my favourite things and key themes about 2019’s CIPD conference.

For anyone who wasn’t able to make it or hasn’t been to one of these events before, the five streams of talks, panels, and workshops taking place were:

  • Well-being, inclusion, and flexible working
  • Tech, analytics, and evidence-based decision
  • Professionalism, voice, and change management
  • Engagement, experience, and people management
  • Learning, recruitment, and talent management

I went to a variety of sessions, covering subjects from inclusion and diversity to the realities of onboarding new technology into an organisation. Throughout all of this, I found a few key themes, the first of which I’m going to cover here.

Creating a culture of transparency

Whether discussing how to choose the right tech for your business through to the future of performance management, one of the key themes at the conference was creating a culture of transparency both in and outside of your organisation.

Here are some of my key takeaways regarding transparency and accountability from the CIPD ACE conferences 2019.

1. Organisations as a glass box

In the opening plenary session on the 6th November, Trevor Phillips OBE (Chair of Green Park Recruitment) suggested the idea of modern organisations being a “glass box”. With the rise of social media and platforms like Glassdoor, having a public voice in the modern world has become increasingly accessible. Therefore, we’re moving from organisational structures that allow for information to be fed outwards in a controlled way.

More than just reputation management, this means that the HR, L&D, and people management industry as a whole have a growing responsibility to be open and honest with both the public and their employees about the challenges they are facing and plans to overcome them. This means that whether you are conducting compliance training, recruiting for new positions, or assessing performance data, it pays to be transparent.

2. Building trust at all levels

There were a number of questions from interviewers in panel discussions and audience members throughout the sessions about how to gain board and C-Suite buy in for upcoming policy/technological changes and increases in transparency.

While the answers varied from gathering data from current systems to researching ROI benefits and organisational opportunities, it was clear that potential tensions between different levels of organisations was a concern.

However, in all of the case studies, panels discussions, and talks I attended, the key correlation I noticed was that great transparency improved both business performance and employee retention. Which leads me to my next point.

3. Involve your employees in decision-making

While this may not initially seem related to transparency, the importance of looking after employee well-being and involving them in decision making were huge topics for discussion at a number of the talks I attended.

For example Francis Lake, Head of Organisation Development at CYBG and Virgin Money, spoke about the importance of including employees at all levels in the development of their new approach to performance management.

Transparency became key to their new approach, focusing on incremental improvement, short term goals, and quarterly check-ins. Moving away from the traditional annual performance review, they saw increases in morale, staff retention, and performance business-wide.


These are just three examples of discussions around transparency. In the people profession, HR and L&D teams are responsible for maintaining a high number of critical functions within any organisation. As Scott D Mcrthur said during a quick-fire presentation, “Listening is touching at a distance”. It has never been more important for the HR profession to listen to their employees, include as many people as possible in decision making, and take note of the glass boxes our organisations now live in.

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Written by Claire Moloney

Claire is an enthusiastic and meticulous content writer whose passion is to support growth and continual learning for everyone.


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