HR: ‘Merica Style

US_Flag_WavyAs any member of SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) can tell you, for 65 years the organization has maintained a strong political presence and worked to be influential in shaping employment policies and laws.  Staff members in SHRM’s Government Affairs Department attend political conventions, regularly testify to congress, and promote activities that ensure HR’s voice is heard when politicians and policymakers are debating, crafting and promoting legislation. Within the last few years, in an effort to enhance HR’s visibility among policymakers, SHRM launched the SHRM Advocacy Team; a network of SHRM member throughout the 435 US Congressional districts. The Government Affairs team also puts together resources for members and the public including the 2014 Guide to Public Policy Issues.

And yet…

… I’ve recently chatted with several HR professionals who made it clear this doesn’t matter.  “I don’t follow politics” said one with a dismissive wave.  I sensed a bit of preening as this badge of honor was proudly affixed to her HR lady blazer.

I’ve run into HR colleagues who don’t know who their US Congressional representative is, nor do they seem to care.  In a recent discussion there was no recognition when I mentioned the name of the state’s US Senator…who is up for re-election in 4 short months.  A blank stare, a few blinks of the eyes, and a resigned shrug.

I’m not even sure it’s a case of, as Tip O’Neill famously said back in the 30’s, “all politics is local.”  There are numerous US citizens (not just HR ladies) who have fully divorced themselves from politics.  Is it apathy or disgust that has led to many no longer even seeming to care up about the relatively simple and pedestrian issues that affect their neighborhood, borough or city?

I’m not here to contemplate the failures of the US political machine or the disengagement of voters.

I’m here to point out that HR practitioners are doing a great disservice to the profession and to their organizations when they don’t know – and don’t care.

Office politics, one of HR’s well-worn phrases, is nothing compared to POLITICS.

Time to give a damn.


image courtesy of wikimedia


  1. The hardest part for me is that I disagree with SHRM’s lobbying effort about 90% of the time.

    • Robin Schooling says:

      Yeah. I often don’t agree with the stance they are taking or the view they are promoting.. BUT… at least we pay attention and form an opinion. Because we know it matters…..

  2. Jenny says:

    Thanks for bringing politics to light. A lot of people really do not follow politics, because it’s not for the people or by the people anymore. It’s by executive order. Businesses are being crushed by frivolous laws and regulations. It’s time to get government out of the way and let the free market take over.

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