The first question arises here is what is this word “Professionalism” about? whether working as HR make it legitimate to call oneself “Professional”, is it straight forward question to answer, I think no, people have different opinion on this
The HR Profession has evolved from the days of Welfare officers to becoming strategic partners, from focusing on operations to strategic thinkers and contributing in organizational development. The scope of role for HR professionals has changed tremendously.
According to Stan Lester (2015, On Professions and being Professional) view that a professional is someone who: makes proficient use of expert or specialist knowledge, exercises autonomous thought and judgement, and makes a voluntary commitment to a set of principles. Such a person need not be a member of an easily defined profession or of a professional association; it is possible to work as a professional from a set of expertise and skills that is relatively unique to the individual.
Whereas Koehn (1994) states that the notion of a “Professional” is essentially a normative one because who qualifies as a professional varies according to the norms or standards of behavior that the professional is bound to obey.
Another critical aspect of professionalism are they possess specified knowledge in areas that are of a concern to the society. They are expected to behave in a way that maintains professional standards and values (Khurana, Nohria & Penrice, 2005).
In a more general way we can say that a professional is someone who carriers out their job to the highest standards, the same applies for HR Professionals as well.
The governing body for any profession sets a definite body of knowledge that has to be learned and individuals have to apply these set of skills & knowledge into their own scope of organization.
The only governing body for HR profession in UK and Ireland is CIPD that has a code of conduct that members are expected to adhere to. Its credibility level is very high, not just as the guardian of HR standards but also, even more importantly, as a forward-looking organization which consistently sets forth its vision for the future HR profession as well as its standards for the conduct of the HR profession today.
Like Medical or Law professionals, HR Professionals are not bond to be associated with any governing body but in UK majority of HR practitioner are associated with CIPD.