Tag Archive for SHRM

Salute to Volunteers – #SHRMLead

winning-trophyThis week, close to 900 volunteer leaders will gather in Washington D.C. for the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Volunteer Leaders’ Summit. With a theme this year of “Prepare. Change. Lead.” the event is designed to prepare chapter and state council leaders to guide their organizations in alignment with SHRM’s goals and initiatives. No easy feat; 2015 promises to be a year of continued complexity for the largest HR professional organization as we get the full roll out of the new SHRM certifications.

I myself was a SHRM volunteer leader for well over a decade, serving as chapter president back in the day and holding various roles on chapter boards and with the Louisiana SHRM State Council. I feel like I’ve been a member forever and yet, for all the drama and hits-or-misses that may occur, I always promote membership – especially for new professionals and/or those who wish to network, learn and build relationships with their professional peers.

In 2002 I moved cross-country, relocating from Milwaukee, WI to Baton Rouge, LA. Within a few weeks of arriving in town I attended my first local SHRM chapter meeting and one of the very first people I met was Rebecca Briley who, at the time, was serving on the GBR SHRM board of directors. She quickly became a close and dear friend and we’ve spent countless fun times together whether strolling on Bourbon Street, laughing over dinner and cocktails, or just hanging out and working hard. She’s been a tireless champion for the human resources profession and SHRM and I was so incredibly happy for her when she was elected to serve as a member of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Council a few years ago.

The MAC Representatives are elected by their respective Regional Councils and serve either a 1 or 2 year term. As we wrap up 2014, four of the five MACs are ending their terms and I would like to give them a shout out this week for all they do to connect volunteer leaders with the SHRM Board of Directors. Closing out their terms of service are:

Steve Browne, SPHR – North Central Region – will continue on as MAC Rep for 2015, joined by 4 new volunteer leaders from the other regions.

So thanks to the MAC Reps, the state council volunteers, the chapter volunteers and all the members who work so hard to connect HR professionals to business and community.

I salute you. You DO make a difference.

Conference Culture and Local Flavor

Flavor FlavLast week I was fortunate to attend 3 separate SHRM conferences right here in Louisiana; the SHRM Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Exposition, the New Orleans SHRM (chapter) Annual Conference and the Greater Baton Rouge (chapter) Annual Conference. All were excellent. And all were different.

I posted my thoughts on Facebook at the end of the week and, in a side conversation with someone, got accused of being mean-spirited and harsh in referencing particular aspects. Look…I’m not Gallup or Nielsen running a poll; I’m a gal who happened to go to 3 conferences in a week and noted the overall conference experience – as-I-saw-it. I merely pointed out how these three events differed, in my opinion. It’s why I write a blog for god’s sake.

Here’s what I said:

SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference – great energy and excitement; people from all over the country/world who “knew” each other; cutting edge conversations; provocative conversations that push the profession forward; networking and connecting highly emphasized

NOLA SHRM – strong existing personal connections among attendees; friendly and welcoming crowd; standard HR content (mid-level and senior level content) with nuggets from each speaker that offered opportunities for “ah – I never thought of it that way” moments; lots of humor and fun; vendors drawings were for gift baskets of booze; attendees stayed until the end; scheduled networking event afterwards for cocktails with a batch of HR folks and speakers who hung around for it

GBR Society for Human Resource Management – serious business with lots of suits; less personal connections amongst the wider group as people danced (sat) with those they came with; standard HR content (geared to entry or mid-level pros); less humor; a number of attendees left mid-afternoon; vendor drawings were for Starbucks gift cards; no scheduled networking or social


Every event was superbly executed by the organizers and appeared to meet the needs and expectations of its intended audience. The folks who came to see Daymond John and Chaz Bono would not, I’m venturing a guess, have been interested in attending a session on Labor Relations (NOLASHRM) or updates on the ACA (Baton Rouge).

And that’s…OK. The organizers at all 3 events knew the type of content their attendees expected and delivered it. I have friends who head to recruiting conferences who would have rather jumped in the Mississippi River than attend the vast majority of these sessions but you know what? They don’t come to HR conferences; they head to the events that provide what they need.

What intrigued me about the week is that the events all fall under the SHRM umbrella; we’re all part of the same ‘family’ yet Uncle Joe is a bit different than Uncle Sam. There are 60 miles that separate the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but, as anyone who lives here can tell you, it’s more than mere miles down the I-10.

And that was my point with the observations.

It’s a bit like working for a geographically dispersed company with a well-defined and articulated culture. The company’s mission, vision and values may be in alignment with employee behavior but, at the end of the day, there are variations in implementation by micro-groups. The needs and wants of sub-groups differ – even as they go about aligning themselves with the overall.

  • “Our company has a casual environment and culture but we still like to wear suits here in the Chicago office.” 
  • “Sure, we socialize here in Jackson. We go out to lunch as a team but I would never head to Happy Hour with my co-workers. I just want to get home at the end of the day.”
  • “The GM for our site added a foosball table in the break room for weekly tournaments. It’s a lot of fun and I go to support everyone but I’m just a bit more serious than everyone else so I never sign up to play.”

Mea culpa to anyone who thought I was ‘slamming’ their efforts or results.

It’s hard to sell snow shovels in the deep south and there’s really not a market for pirogues in the midwest.

And that’s…OK.

Changing the Conversation about Diversity & Inclusion – #SHRMDiv

s_HomeI had the opportunity to attend the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference and Exposition in New Orleans on Monday and was just enraptured; it was my first time attending this particular SHRM conference.

I could tell, right out of the gate, that this event was going to be a bit different than the typical HR event (SHRM or otherwise) geared towards the masses of HR practitioners trying to scoop up re-certification credits. It was small (500 or so attendees I would estimate) and the energy, passion and excitement was palpable. Smart, authentic, honest and human conversations were happening all around me as soon as I walked in and sat down for the opening general session.

During the session, after we all did a brief activity with the person sitting next to us (talking about unconscious bias), a few people shared their thoughts with the larger audience. When an HR/D&I pro stood up and said “As a gay black male here is what I experience everyday….” it was confirmed for me yet again that this was not your mama’s HR conference. I’ve been to HR conferences with your mama (and your daddy). Sometimes she’s racist, homophobic and judgmental; she quite possibly would have rolled her eyes at this guy’s honesty.

And it was the honesty I appreciated so much at this conference; people (HR people!) were their most authentic selves at every turn. No one was afraid to point out the absurdities of some of the residual attitudes they encounter every day in their D&I work. In a session I attended the speaker said “I’m a white middle-aged male. My friends don’t understand how it came to be that I’m speaking at a Diversity conference.” (and all of us in the room chuckled knowingly).

We didn’t hear chatter about EEO-1 reports or affirmative action. We didn’t sit through sessions run by the EEOC. Rather we had the chance to discuss “Building an ROI-Focused Diversity Scorecard” and “Assessing and Developing Passion for Global Diversity.” There were session offerings about religious diversity, using Six Sigma to link innovation with diversity, and how to address the biases that exist against the unemployed.

As Dr. Shirley Davis (SHRM’s former VP of Global Diversity & Inclusion and Workforce Strategies) told me during a video interview we did “we have changed the conversation about what diversity and inclusion is.”

I agree. We have. But our continuing work is getting all HR practitioners invested in that conversation.

Here’s the deal: I’m a SHRM member, former chapter president, and long time volunteer leader at the state level and I travel around quite a bit and see activities at the chapter level far and wide. Many SHRM chapters and state councils now have a Diversity Director position on their board and quite a number of chapters (and state councils) promote “Diversity Awards.” Yet I can tell you that the old conversation still reigns supreme as race and gender (with a smattering of generational diversity) continue to be the overwhelming topic of D&I talk. Compliance and coded keywords are prevalent. Too often, in my estimation, when HR practitioners say “we have a diverse workforce” they are merely doing a mental tabulation of their workforce demographics: white vs. black, old vs. young, males vs. females.

How do we disrupt that?

The Monday afternoon keynote speaker Daymond John, said something that is wildly appropriate to everything we do in HR but especially in our approach to building and embracing inclusion:


“The world is getting smaller and there is disruption in every industry.

We can either take advantage of that … or we will fall by the wayside.”


Let’s not fall by the wayside.

Making the Unconscious Conscious – Live from #SHRMDiv

s_HomeI’m excited to be attending the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference and Exposition in New Orleans today; it’s the first time I’ve been able to attend this event and want to thank SHRM for inviting me to participate as a blogger. Rumor has it I might be doing some video interviews later today as well (stay tuned) so I best get my camera-face ready. Or something.

SHRM’s CHRO, Jeff Pons, kicked off the conference with a lively and interactive session where we had the opportunity (challenge?) of discussing unconscious bias at our tables. We also watched “Making the Unconscious Conscious” – a super video from Google (Life at Google). Go watch it. It’s worth it

And then, dear reader, I implore you to share it with your organizational leaders, HR colleagues and others who can benefit.

It’s an important conversation to have.

p.s. follow the conference hashtag #SHRMDiv through Wednesday!