Introducing the 2021 CIPR Inside Committee


 January 9, 2020 

 A new year at CIPR Inside means forming a new committee.

This year our committee includes existing members from 2020, some of who have been with us for a few years, and we are also welcoming a number of new committee members.

We are all volunteers and come from a variety of backgrounds and sectors. Collectively we literally have centuries of experience working in internal communication and it is our mission to support the profession during 2021.

We know that, as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, it is likely to be another tough year for all internal communicators and we are here to help by sharing our knowledge and experience, and by creating a platform and opportunities for others in the industry to do the same.

We’ll be revealing more of our plans for 2021 in the coming weeks, but for now here is an introduction to the committee members, including some of their thoughts on what the important internal communication themes are likely to be this year, and a few hopes for the future.

Do you agree that these are the things we should be focusing on for 2021, and are there any others which you think are also important? Do get in touch with us on social media or by emailing [email protected] to let us know.

For me, I think 2021 will be an intense period of change for all organisations and the employees who work in them, as a new order establishes itself in the wake of the pandemic. How that change is communicated and understood inside organisations will be crucial for adaptation and success in a post pandemic world. 


Martin Flegg – CIPR Inside 2021 Committee Chair

Debbie West – Internal Communications Consultant and CIPR Inside 2021 Committee Vice Chair

I think 2021 is an opportunity for internal communicators to build on the achievements they made during the pandemic. It's a chance to review the new ways of working we rapidly adopted, to find out how to make them more effective for our people, and to maintain a sense of connection and belonging.

Dan Holden - Senior Internal Communications Officer at Which? Consumers’ Association and CIPR Inside 2021 Committee Budget Manager

Looking ahead at 2021, for me I have three key areas that I’ll be focusing on this year:

Building hybrid communities – With changes to the way organisations work, more remote workers and dispersed teams, we’ll have a key role to play in helping colleagues feel connected with their teams and the wider organisation.

Maintaining positive wellbeing – For comms practitioners and colleagues, 2020 has tested us all in different ways. With 2021 still been uncertain, it’s going to be imperative to look after ourselves and each other, making sure not to burn out or feeling further isolated at home as remote working continues.

Channel performance – Many internal comms teams have rolled out new channels at speeds not heard of before in order to support their employees. We now need to make sure all the best practice we champion such as measurement and evaluation are used to make sure channels are performing as they should

Marsha van Moorsel - Senior Manager, Internal Communications and Engagement at RSM International and CIPR Inside 2021 Committee Secretary

From what I can see, the hot topic for 2021 will be Diversity and Inclusion. My hope for 2021 is that we continue the good work that was done in 2020. There were a lot of challenges last year but one of the good things we saw was that leaders were willing to be more human and informal in their communications. I would like to see this continue.

Chaya Mistry - Director of Humanly, Communication consultant and coach.

For the future, this new decade is going to demand that humans evolve. In 2021 IC will need to take on the future of work. That will include being strategic, supporting emotional intelligence and human centered organisations that are embracing the digital age. That requires leaders with a different set of qualities than those needed for the industrial age.

I hope that internal communication teams will evolve to support their leaders and organisations in strategic ways or risk reverting back to being a tactical function.

Katy Busby - Internal Communications Business Partner - Metropolitan Police.

My hopes for internal communications in 2021 are that we put the wellbeing of staff at the forefront and engage colleagues across a range of channels with targeted messaging.

Friedel Grant - Internal Communications Specialist - Rotterdam School of Management

Last year the pandemic turned working life on its head. We have a vaccine to look forward to in 2021 but that doesn't mean that working life will return to how it was anytime soon.

As internal communicators, we have to find meaningful ways of keeping a remote workforce engaged and connected - especially new hires. How do we introduce a company culture remotely, to someone who has never experienced it in-person or met their colleagues?

Health and wellbeing will also continue to be a focus. The extra energy reserves that people had at the start of 2020 are now gone, so we need to be gracious and ensure that people are supported in ways that are truly helpful for them.

Finally, I expect diversity and inclusion to be a defining theme next year. People will be looking for real impact in this space, which goes beyond a mention from the board or recommendations in reports.

Fiona Hatton – Deputy Head of Internal Communication and Engagement – Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

I think the focus for internal communicators will remain on change, leadership and resilience. Expect to see an emphasis on strong leadership and what that looks like, along with lots of wellbeing initiatives. It could be a really positive time for us as professionals, I'm really excited to see how it turns out!

Helen Chown - Senior Communication Manager

This year I think IC professionals will play an important part in ongoing conversations about ways of working as well as employee well-being. 2020 was about firefighting. The pandemic will extend into 2021 and likely change some ways of working for good. I expect that this year the conversation will turn to what this means for organisations longer-term. The discussion (I hope) will evolve in a more strategic direction rather than feeling like we’re in crisis comms mode.

Shalini Gupta - Leadership Communications Manager – BT

In 2020 I really valued stepping in to help leaders step out of their comfort zones and have tough yet honest conversations with their people about what matters most to them. Those conversations have been around several key themes that changed the way we work and think, and will continue to do so in 2021, but this time with more rigour.

As IC professionals, we’ll be the glue that’ll continue to bind the evolving workplace with the changing world around us and keep our people connected and engaged. Key themes that I foresee for 2021 include, the rise of digital leaders championing digital communication, a shift from share value to shared values and purpose, and creating belonging with Diversity & Inclusion.

As IC professionals, if we continue to weave through these themes with empathy, clarity and consistency in all our communications, keeping a line of sight on our shared purpose, my hope is that we won’t lose the valuable connections we made with our people in 2020.

Leanne Ehren - Head of Communications Hub

Hot topics for internal communicators in 2021 will include, learning and mastering the running of virtual events for colleagues (that are good, engaging and mean something!). Supporting visible leadership in a virtual world, and cutting through internal channel noise, when channels are so limited, to reach remote workers

Michelle Okwudiafor - Internal Communications Manager

As the world still battles the global pandemic, in 2021 the world of work will not be hugely different from 2020. Remote working is still the name of the game and the onus is on company communicators to ensure that employees are engaged, informed and feel a sense of belonging.

I see the hot topics for internal communications in 2021 including; enhancing employee experience while working remotely especially for new employees. Digital transformation and how companies will embrace new technologies to communicate. Trust, transparency and timely leadership communications. Employee wellbeing.

Ian Rumanyika - Public and Corporate Affairs Manager at Uganda Revenue Authority

The future of internal communication and my thoughts for 2021 are that many organisations continue to use outdated internal communication methods. Should we say the COVID 19 crisis is a blessing in disguise to change our internal communication strategies and approach?

Noting the changes brought in by the "Work from home" approach. How are we prepared to ensure effective internal communication moving forward, including how do we ensure we utilise the digital landscape to meet our internal communication goals? Should we be taking on a new culture diagnosis and alignment to build engagement for effective internal communication.

Michael Smith - Senior Internal Communications Manager at Anchor Hanover

Will the hot topics in internal communication in early 2021 be substantially different from those that brought 2020 to a close? I suspect not. But what we’ll likely see is a move in some quarters towards making permanent the emergency measures which were introduced at the start of the pandemic.

Employees and employers alike in many sectors have realised that remote working can work for their organisation. But that comes with an acknowledgment of a continued shift away from traditional to electronic internal communication channels, a greater reliance on an individual’s IT skills, and a focus on how an organisation invests its energy to support the wellbeing of its workforce.

Internal communicators will navigate this post-pandemic world, identifying new channels to keep workforces connected, working with HR colleagues to make wellbeing an integral part of the organisation’s Employee Value Proposition, and – as always – through effective measurement and evaluation, demonstrating to the boardroom the value of a professional internal communication function.

Binu Jacob - Communications and Engagement Manager

In 2021, be prepared for a culture reset. The shift to remote working and the myriad of digital platforms available to aid virtual collaboration and engagement, has led to a change in team dynamics and organisational behaviour.

If the past year has taught us anything, it's that change is the only constant - from relooking at vision and values, to rethinking people first over processes, to fostering greater trust through better (virtual) employee experiences, teams. Organisations need to adapt in order to grow and evolve with the times.

It took a pandemic to prove this latter point, but IC practitioners now have a massive opportunity and responsibility to improve communications and engagement and the overall people experience at work as evidenced in plenty of industry-led studies produced over the past year.

I would hope that every IC practitioner, current and aspiring, will take this as a sign to be equipped with the right skills and know-how in being ready to navigate uncertainties and champion change in their workplaces.

Becky Hall - Internal Communications Manager at ARM

There are huge opportunities for internal communication professionals to influence how organisations navigate 2021.

With complex and emotive topics like equity, inclusion and diversity, mental health and climate change at the front of minds, we will need to be thoughtful, collaborative, bold and persuasive in how we help organisations engage employees and bring about noticeable change.

Samantha Pickett - Internal Communications Manager

During 2021 I believe we’ll see many organisations shifting towards permanent blended working (partly remote and partly office-based). The channels needed for this are largely already in place, so I expect the emphasis over the coming months will be on culture.

Culture is a great opportunity for internal communicators to collaborate closely with our people team colleagues, particularly focussing on employee experience. Another key topic for the year ahead is likely to be responsible business, with employees helping to define what it means for their organisation.

Sara Tehrani – Managing Consultant, Internal Communications Recruitment at VMA Group

With all of the great and valuable work we have seen from internal communicators in 2020, I’m hopeful that the well-being of employees will continue to be prioritised by businesses in 2021.

Noel Armstrong - Communication & Engagement Officer

My thoughts on hot topics for internal communicators in 2021 include, adapting to a rapidly changing workplace, coping with lockdowns, digital upskilling, agile project management, adapting workplaces, and adjusting to flexible and home working requirements.

Our other committee members for 2021 are:

Padraic Knox – Change and Internal Communications Manager

Katie Marlow – Internal Communications Specialist and Business Consultant – Little Bird Communication


Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash