“Whilst it is difficult to measure the impact of professional bodies overall, recent data indicates that professional qualifications in general add, on average, more than £150,000 to an individual’s lifetime.”
Professional bodies are increasingly important in developing professionals to meet their career potential and overcome the challenges they will face. This benefits not just the individual but wider society as well.
Joining a professional body should provide professionals with a range of benefits, these include the opportunity to stay up to date with current news, regulation or other developments in their industry; to network with like-minded professionals who wish to discuss and learn about similar topics, or perhaps meet with those that can provide a difference of opinion and perspectives; to connect with experts for advice and guidance; to find a means to track and prove professional development and employability through well-regarded courses and events; and so on.
Sometimes, however, professional bodies can miss their mark. It is apparent that directors of mid size businesses feel that some professional bodies do not provide the value to their members that they should. For example, in our ecosystem (i.e. board of directors), there is a discrepancy between the needs of board members and what is provided. In a very fast-changing world, some bodies might be perceived as old school or out of date.
Robust, contemporary, professional bodies usually benefit members and the profession by improving one or more of the following five categories: productivity or professional status; social mobility; governance; ethical standards and policy formation.
The importance of trust
Providing foundations upon which a profession and the public’s understanding of it can be based enables trust within and of the profession to be established. Trust is an essential component of a professional body’s existence and purpose. Setting technical or ethical standards, which are adhered to and developed upon through a professional’s career, provide a basis for this.
The value of professional bodies
There are very diverse needs and interests of practitioners working in MSBs, which constitute the majority of professional bodies’ members. In many cases, the role of professional bodies is currently focused on providing a secretariat function to support the work of volunteers, rather than specialist best practice – and they do not hear and act upon the needs of their members. Key to the success of professional bodies are their abilities to:
- Maintain a strong moral compass (i.e. safe environment)
- Encourage excellence and authenticity
- Support leaders who embrace innovation and progress
- Champion and demonstrate honesty and integrity
- Position themselves as a disruptor (e.g. at NEDonBoard, we promote and provide opportunity for more diversity in the boardroom)
- Develop highest standards
- Provide a platform for the community and ongoing professional development.
MSB leaders should look for professional bodies that, in the main, deliver these benefits and to continue to adapt to suit the needs of their members, their industry and those of the public.
If they don’t, then it’s time to reconsider the value of your membership and if better value can be found elsewhere.