That's a wrap on the first ever online CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition - and what an incredible two days it has been.

In true spirit, the people profession has stepped up and tackled the uncomfortable questions facing the profession head on. From addressing ongoing inequalities in the workplace, to rising to new and unforeseen challenges brought on by the pandemic. It's now time to lead through this period of change and disruption with confidence.

Thank you to all attendees, speakers, chairs, exhibitors, sponsors, partners and suppliers who all came together to make this unique experience possible. Take a moment to look through the final day's highlights below.

In the conference

Megan Reitz, (Professor of Leadership and Dialogue, Ashridge Hult Executive Education) got day two underway with her opening keynote: Speaking truth to power – how our everyday choices affect workplace culture. She emphasised organisations need to take a look at how they encourage employees to speak-up, and where do they fall in response to employee activism. Do they encourage, suppress or stimulate those tricky conversations? 

“The idea that doing nothing is apolitical is a delusion – actually doing nothing is also a choice.”

You can catch the full session on-demand via the ‘Conference’ in the event platform until 23:59 (GMT) on 9 December.

Bringing the free learning showcases to a close was Gerwyn Davies (Senior Labour Market Adviser, CIPD) and Andrew Willis (Head of Legal, HR Inform) as they unpacked key Brexit changes impacting business, the obstacles and benefits of the new immigration system and top tips to support your workforce planning and recruitment strategies.

Leading the ‘Promoting positive mental health whilst working remotely’ Q&A session in the Development Hub was Rachel Suff (Senior Policy Adviser, CIPD) where the mental health challenges that present when working remotely were discussed. Including how to notice early warning signs in a virtual environment among our colleagues.

In the afternoon we saw Rick Hughes (Author of ;Get a Life! Creating a Successful Work-Life Balance’ & Head of Counselling, University of Aberdeen), Helen Matthews (Chief People Officer, Ogilvy) and Jessica Barclay, (Head of HR, Haymarket Media Group) discuss how to maintain a healthy work/life culture in a digital age. Including how to manage digitally-induced stress, presenteeism pressures and how ‘switching off’ is easier said than done.

“It’s important that we’re mindful of the fact that digitally-induced stress can come from what working virtually doesn’t give us, as well as what it does give us.” Jessica Barclay

Conference delegates can access this session via the on-demand tab in the ‘Conference’ section of the event platform until 23:59 (GMT) on 9 December.

Leena Haque (Neurodiversity Lead, BBC), Kirsty Cook, (Head of Neurodiversity Advisory Services) Auticon Ltd and Abdul Wahab (D&I Adviser CIPD) discussed the importance of creating neurodivergent friendly cultures which is accommodating to different people’s working styles. 

“Allyship is really important in improving culture. It needs to go top down in terms of promoting inclusion in the workplace. If you want to improve culture, you must get senior buy-in.” Leena Haque

Conference delegates can access this session via the on-demand tab in the ‘Conference’ section of the event platform until 23:59 (GMT) on 9 December.

Bringing an incredible two days to a close was industry thought-leader Josh Bersin. His fantastic presentation focused around the critical role of HR, and how the people profession is vital in ensuring economic and organisational success around the world. 

Here’s a few of his closing words:

“The CEO in 2021 will continue to be Chief Empathy Officer.”
“Performance/productivity and engagement are two sides of the same coin.”
“People feel better when they’re working for a company that they really believe in.”
“Wellbeing moved from being a benefit to being a management capability.”


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