The new Co-operative Group will be ready to seek Investors In People accreditation across its portfolio of businesses by early next year. Human resources controller Bill Hughes has been in charge of the drive to shape personnel policy for more than 50,000 employees of the Co-operative Group, after the CRS/CWS merger. He said: "The majority of Co-operative Wholesale Society businesses already had the accreditation when we merged with CRS. "We are now on track to ask for a company-wide assessment of the new business between January and March next year." IIP accreditation is a national best practice benchmark for staff management in industry. To gain the hallmark, employers must demonstrate they regularly communicate an overall business plan to employees, set targets, review employee performance and provide effective training courses. Hughes said: "The Co-operative Group found using IIP the easiest way to make people come together to get its diverse businesses up to a uniform standard on personnel. "It gives everyone a challenge to work towards." He said that overall company accreditation would address the need for the Co-op to work as a group rather than act as a series of businesses, and would help to attract top calibre employees. Hughes said: "We are hoping for full IIP recognition by 2003. If we get accredited it will be the final piece of the merger jigsaw. "The challenge for our very diverse society is that we are only as strong as our weakest link. Everyone needs to join in." {{PEOPLE MOVES }}