Several years ago, while sitting in a conference room in Arizona, I heard a fellow member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) deliver an uninspired, self-motivated call to action.“This is the decade of human capital,” the official proclaimed.My dramatic eye roll didn’t go unnoticed by a colleague. I gently whispered, “I just can’t,” and promptly exited the ballroom.
To be clear, this was not a knock on the individual or even the narrow message. My frustration was more about the lack of overall progress within our industry. As we watched organizations innovate, culture conversations headed from novel to mainstream. I couldn’t sit through one more delivery of the same message: risk mitigation, excel spreadsheet management, official cheerleader of corporate America.
Yawn. We’ve needed a major makeover for a long time.
SHRM CEO Is Focused on Setting Us All Up for Success
Fast-forward to this past May. Introduced at the 2019 annual Conscious Capitalism Conference in Phoenix, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr, CEO of SHRM, engaged his audience of CEOs and global business leaders with a somewhat revolutionary address. How refreshing it was to hear someone finally acknowledge—out loud—that creating better workplaces creates better communities.
"With more than 30 years of working with SHRM in a variety of capacities, I have seen it grow from 40k members into the largest HR professional association on the planet 300k members strong. I've worked under many great leaders and CEOs, but Johnny C. Taylor's passion and transformational leadership is leading SHRM to create innovative frontiers for talent development in the workplace of the future." —Mark Christensen
Afterward, my friend and longtime SHRM supporter, Mark Christensen, ushered a few of us to the speakers' lounge to spend more 1:1 time with the SHRM chief and listen to him expand on his vision. He’s driving a SHRM-focused movement around inclusion and innovation committed to redefining the role of HR to be more about changing lives, transforming organizations and improving society.
Taylor admitted that there is a lot of work to be done in finding those untapped pockets of talent that lie in our midst and leveraging their perspectives to fill the void. To help do that, he’s encouraging SHRM members to add their voices via the #wearework.
My response: “Count me in!”
Which is why I was honestly excited to attend the 2019 National SHRM conference in Las Vegas last week. After 20 years in HR, I’m not usually inclined to invest in attending these types of conferences. But I really did want to see if—and how—Johnny’s inspiring message resonated among my colleagues. Would it be powerful enough? Was this new reach demonstrated through the association’s content and speakers? Was the shift to the new era of this practice clear and obvious?
Happy to report I was not disappointed. In fact, I’m more interested in SHRM than I’ve ever been throughout my career. I look forward to participating in this exciting transformation—and can’t wait to see how it impacts the overall health of our organizations.
7 Key Takeaways
A few notable takeaways from my #SHRM19 experience:
A session on building a better workplace: There are old tricks we should never forget and many new tricks we need to learn.
Cy Wakeman’s session compelling us to ditch the drama and deliver results. She’s always irreverent, magical, direct and full of good leadership lessons: “Now that you know better, she said, “you can do better,” #nodrama @cywakeman
Tom’s Shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie, noting “We are all made for more,” talking about the purpose of #purpose and how to follow what matters. @blakemycoskie
Brene Brown’s nuggets of inspiration, including this one: “Leadership is holding space for others to have ideas.”
Alice Marie Johnson speaking about how she served 21-years of a life sentence in prison and now strives to change public/employer perceptions about life after prison.
Adam Gorlitsky’s inspirational story on how to persevere—not in spite of or with a disability, but how to be a rock star as a human with a different perspective. @i_got_legs
Lionel Richie. All night long!
(I also got to ride a rainbow unicorn, but you’ll have to use your imagination for that image.)
The powerful messages and images were so special and directed toward what every company should strive for. Better yet, they came from such rich and diverse experiences, ages and voices. Regardless, they all emphasized that this is OUR work, collectively and collaboratively.
I, like many of you I'm sure, am grateful to Johnny and his SHRM team for getting the ball rolling. The impact will be powerful if we all work together.
What Were Your Takeaways?
Were you in Vegas, too? Did you come home inspired? What part can you take in helping to transform HR—and all those old-fashioned perceptions—to help add value to your organization?
We’re collecting stories and comments from people just like you so that we all can learn together. Let’s work together to rewrite the HRM manual and rebrand ourselves as true business leaders. Share your stories using #wearework and #we.me or email me at stacie.mallen@ETW.com