EventsPast Event

High Pay Centre at 10: How can workers have a voice in a changing world of work?

By 01.06.21EventsPast EventJune 17th, 2021No Comments

The latest in a series of events marking the 10 year anniversary of the High Pay Centre (14:00-15:00, Tuesday 15 June)

Watch the discussion in full here


  • Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC
  • Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD

To mark ten years since the founding of the High Pay Centre, we are holding a series of events covering the themes of our work. The discussions will look at how policy, practice and debate have changed over the past decade, and how they might do so in future.The latest event of our series will be a discussion on worker voice.

Even before the Covid crisis, trends such as the decline of traditional industries, the loss of jobs due to automation and globalisation, the rise of the gig economy characterised a world of work that was rapidly changing. Since the pandemic broke out we have probably seen bigger changes to the way people work than at any comparable period in human history.

Against this backdrop, a number of initiatives led by Government, industry and civil society have sought to shift the focus of the corporation away from returns to shareholders and towards an approach that balances the interests of all stakeholders. Reforms to the corporate governance code have promoted mechanisms for stakeholder voice into corporate governance structures; the Future of the Corporation programme led by the British Academy has set out a manifesto through which businesses can solve the problems facing people and the planet profitably; and the Better Business Act campaign supported by over 400 companies and the Institute of Directors, has advocated for a reform of directors’ legal duties to give constituencies including workers; customers; and suppliers parity with shareholders in company law.

However, the adequacy and impact of these measures remains to be seen – do they represent a genuine cultural change that will give workers a real say over their working lives, or a superficial PR exercise that will do little to address the fundamental issues of inequality, precarity and productivity facing the UK.

Frances O’Grady

Frances became the General Secretary of the TUC in 2013, the first woman ever to hold this post. Achieving fair pay is her core ambition – she was on the Resolution Foundation’s Commission on Living Standards, and has been a member of the Low Pay and the High Pay Commissions. Frances is a strong believer in protecting the public service ethos, opposes privatisation and leads the TUC campaign to save the NHS.

As Deputy General Secretary from 2003 to 2013, Frances led on winning the 2012 Principles of Co-operation Agreement with the Olympic Authorities, guaranteeing on-site minimum standards for local jobs, health and safety and the London living wage. Frances has also led on industrial policy arguing the case for a strategic approach to rebalancing the economy in the wake of the financial crash.

Peter Cheese

Peter is the CIPD’s chief executive. He writes and speaks widely on the development of HR, the future of work, and the key issues of leadership, culture and organisation, people and skills.

Peter is a Fellow of the CIPD, a Fellow of AHRI (the Australian HR Institute) and the Academy of Social Sciences. He’s also a Companion of the Institute of Leadership and Management, the Chartered Management Institute, and the British Academy of Management. He is a visiting Professor at the University of Lancaster and sits on the Advisory Board for the University of Bath Management School. He holds honorary doctorates from Bath University, Kingston University and Birmingham City University.

Prior to joining the CIPD in July 2012, he was Chairman of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a member of the Council of City&Guilds. Up until 2009 he had a long career at Accenture holding various leadership positions and culminating in a seven year spell as Global Managing Director, leading the firm’s human capital and organisation consulting practice.