New ONS classification recognises professional nature of company secretaries

On Friday, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published the 2020 Standard Occupation Classification (SOC2020) following a long and comprehensive consultation process.

I am delighted to let members know that a new classification has been introduced:

2435 Professional/Chartered company secretaries

This is the result of our lobbying since the publication of the previous SOC ten years ago.

There has always been confusion over what a company secretary actually does. Until now the broad range of people who perform necessary secretarial and administrative functions within companies were all included under a general designation of ‘company secretaries’. This included anyone describing themselves as working as a secretary in a company, hence some of the headlines that we have all seen in the past based on misleading statistical analysis.

The result has been confusion between individuals who perform secretarial and administrative functions within a company as a basic level and those qualified individuals able to bring their considerable professional knowledge and expertise to bear to support the efficient and effective governance of organisations.

This new classification is another step towards ensuring recognition of the professional nature of our occupation and builds on the change of name of the Institute.

The ONS was not able to use the term ‘Chartered Governance Professionals’ in the title of the new classification as the numbers of individuals who self-classify as ‘governance professionals’ is not yet sufficient to justify this change. This may well be a change we can push for again in the future.

The ONS is still developing the detailed taxonomy to support the new classification and I will let members know once that is available.

The fact of a new classification in SOC2020 may seem small, but it is a significant recognition of members’ status.

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