CIPD ACE 2023: ‘A bolder future for the people profession’

The CIPD’s 76th annual conference and exhibition is underway in Manchester. Attracting thousands of HR, learning and development and people professionals, the event is a hub of knowledge-sharing of direct relevance to global mobility, international talent and DEI managers, and business leaders.

Panellists at cipd ace 2023

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“The theme of this year is to build a bolder future for the people profession,” said CIPD CEO Peter Cheese. “With all the issues and challenges, there are also great opportunities that need our profession to be at the very heart of business thinking this year.”The hybrid conference launched on the day Marks & Spencer credited its £360.2m half-year profits to its culture change programme and adoption of technology. The news was a timely reminder of the important role of the people profession's role as a key business partner and changemaker during times of transition - as well as a people-first approach in a fast-changing world of technological innovation.Workshops, masterclasses, panel discussions and keynotes over the two-day event are all geared to helping practitioners take decisive action when confronted by similar challenges in their own organisations, including those operating internationally.

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AI, talent management and leadership development in focus internationally

This year's CIPD ACE 2023 future-focused programme is organised around four streams, covering the latest research, innovations and case studies.
  1. Revolutionising the modern workplace with AI: How people professionals can successfully navigate this technology revolution to drive employee performance and enable data-driven decision-making.
  2. Supporting and developing leaders of the future: How to support and develop leaders for the future, both within the people profession and wider business, and strengthen the path towards strong leadership.
  3. Balancing talent attraction, retention and development: How organisations can engage and support employees from the initial stages of recruitment to the end of their working lives.
  4. Learning & Development — building future skills: How to address the challenges organisations face in upskilling their workforce and improving their employee experience.
The streams link directly to findings in the CIPD's 2023 People Profession 2023: International survey report. Based on a sample of almost 3,000 people professionals across the UK, Ireland, MENA and APAC, with additional statistics from CPHR Canada, the survey shows that while there are regional differences in HR professional's key challenges, the top four internationally are:
  1. Technology and digital transformation
  2. Economic instability and the cost of living crisis
  3. Sustainability and reaching net zero
  4. New models of working.
The CIPD ACE 2023's streams also reflect the CIPD's newly revised Profession Map.The standards on People Analytics, People and Technology, Talent Management, Resourcing and Business Acumen have been amended to enhance their relevance to today's workplace, while the CIPD has introduced a new standard on AI. This "sets out the knowledge required at every stage of people professionals' careers, and highlights the the ethical and responsible use of AI-embedded technologies".

Exploring current and future challenges

Speaking to these challenges at the Manchester Central venue are keynote speakers including Daniel Susskind, economist and author of A World Without Work, who opened the conference with a presentation on AI and its impact on work and society.Opening the afternoon session, author, consultant, educator and speaker Professor Dr Barbara Banda delivered an impactful presentation on her research in the UK and Netherlands into how to create environments where diverse leadership thrives in organisations and why it matters.She described the experiences of the black business leaders she interviewed for her FT Business book of the Year shortlisted, The Model Black, and the extra challenges, adaptations and energy it takes to navigate workplaces."I'm inviting you to think about is what are some of those invisible practices that you might have in your organisations that might completely unwittingly keep certain people out or make them feel excluded," said Professor Dr Barbara Banda. 'How are you deciding on merit? We know that statistics show that black people typically get much poorer feedback than do their white counterparts. The data is out there for us to look at and the reason I mention it is because it plays out in organisations."
TV presenter and wellbeing campaigner Davina McCall MBE will also be discussing the importance of mental health and wellbeing at work, while racing driver Nicolas Hamilton, will speak about facing challenges and overcoming adversity.Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: “At a time of significant change, where organisations are facing uncertainty and the need to adapt, with rising costs, skills shortages and retention challenges, alongside new ways of working and the rise of AI the need and strategic role for people professionals has never been greater.“This year’s event will explore the profession’s current challenges and opportunities to help to shape a positive and inclusive future of work, and the tools and capabilities needed to thrive. We look forward to bringing the profession together and welcoming everyone to this fantastic event.”

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