Guest post by Neil Griffiths, ABC, Chart.PR
Some time has passed since IABC first embarked on the journey towards a new global credential for communication professionals: the CMP (or Communication Management Professional, for those who are ‘acronymed out’!).
The program is in full swing, with graduates around the globe now able to include these all-important letters after their name. IABC has of course been dedicated to setting a standard for professional communication for decades, most notably with the development of the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation that is still held by hundreds of professionals worldwide. This commitment to setting a global standard for professional communication practice paved the way for the association to enter into the development of the new CMP credential.
So, why is certification the right choice for IABC?
This is a question that came up back in 2013 and people are still asking us. For me this was the result of a number of threads that all became intertwined at the same time. If we cast our minds back to the 2011-14 strategic plan, the IEB sought to align all IABC’s programs in support of communication professionals’ careers. At the same time, the Accreditation Committee had highlighted several key issues for the long-term sustainability of the ABC program. In looking at the various options open to IABC in response to this, certification emerged as an avenue that could meet the association’s needs in many ways:
- Assessment for certification depends on a body of knowledge for the profession – this could also be a basis for other programs for professional development, awards, etc. and for the association’s content strategy. (This body of knowledge is developed by and with the profession to make sure it represents what we should know and the skills we should have.)
- Assessment is based on an exam and evaluation is in no way subjective
- The volunteer commitment to run the program is much less intensive
- The process around certification (as opposed to accreditation or other similar programs) reduces liability for the association, as it is related only to the body of knowledge
- The ISO 17024 standard for professional certification programs provides a framework for building the program; meeting this standard sets our program apart from any other in the world
Why does ISO matter?
Once certification was determined to be the right way of moving ahead, IABC had a decision to make: figure this out on our own or follow the international standard for the management of professional certification programs. It chose the latter for a number of reasons:
- No other communication association has an ISO-standard certification program; this differentiates us from the competition by having a built-in level of credibility
- As an international association, IABC wanted a truly global credential, not one that only met the standards of one country
- The ISO guidelines apply to the management of the program and provide quality assurance for the administration and development of the credential. This is critical in showing people, particularly those outside our profession, that all aspects of the program conform to international standards of best practice
- It provided guidance as to how to establish the program (we didn’t need to figure this out on our own) and would avoid having to retrofit the program later on and make (potentially costly) changes to how the program is administered
- Recognition of ISO standards in industries and markets across the globe is very high, which would give visibility to our certification program. Many organizations have to meet ISO standards (for compliance with health & safety, for example) and there is increasing interest in setting standards for professions at the ISO level
- The pursuit of the ISO standard is voluntary and shows IABC’s commitment to meeting the highest possible standards for its certification program
Given that IABC is seeking to establish the value and impact of this important new program, I think that its focus on making it the best it can be from the outset is admirable. It will help build credibility amongst anyone who is trying to learn more about it, not least of which the hiring managers around the world who are going to be curious to know what is behind the new set of letters they are seeing after communication professionals’ names in years to come.
I am honestly thrilled to see the progress that has been made with the certification program and I am impressed with how much it is being embraced by our organization worldwide. This is all thanks to the commitment of the series of IEB members since the journey began, as well as the hundreds of people who have been involved in bringing certification to life. I have been lucky to witness this from the inside, from my time on the Career Roadmap Committee where I saw all the various streams begin to align, and then as part of the inaugural Global Communication Certification Council (where I co-chaired the exam committee). The current GCCC is in the process of developing the next level of exam to bring the designation to an even broader group of professionals. It’s incredible just how far things have come in such a short space of time. Learn more about Certification.
I can vouch for the passion and drive that has been a huge part of realizing IABC’s vision for certification and I am still massively confident in what it will do for IABC, for communication professionals around the world and for raising awareness of what we do to people who are far less familiar than we are. The journey is far from over, but I hope you’ll join us all on it.
Neil is Past Chair of IABC EMENA and has served on numerous IABC committees, notably the inaugural Global Communication Certification Council. Neil is a Regional Leader of the Year and in 2015 received the Rae Hamlin Award for services to professional certification. He is currently Vice Chair of the Program Advisory Committee and will chair the 2018 World Conference in Montreal.