You had to know this was coming. I already talked about the good and the bad, now here’s the ugly.
Originally, I was planning on attending the SHRM Members for Transparency (SMFT) press meeting and writing a quick blurb on it in my conference wrap up. But after attending I felt compelled to say a little more.
Let me start by describing my relationship with SHRM. I am a former SHRM member with no plans to re-join, but I am current PHR certification holder. I have attended and will continue to attend SHRM events, I have spoken at local SHRM events, and I am lucky to have been given blogger press passes to SHRM National both this year and in past years.
And as far as this whole situation is concerned I don’t feel I have any skin in the game. But I am curious about how it will play out, even if I felt a little guilty when I walked into the SMFT meeting this Sunday.
Now, I don’t know really know all the details. I can’t say with certainty what SHRM board members have done or continue to do. I certainly haven’t spoken to anyone at SHRM about the groups concerns. John Hollon at TLNT has a much more detailed reporting of the press meeting here.
All I can give you are my impressions of the meeting.
Here we go:
First of all, it is clear the SMFT members are very passionate about the SHRM organization and clearly feel that it is headed in a bad direction. They genuinely want to work with SHRM on addressing their concerns and are deeply hurt about how they have been treated.
Second, if true, their accusations of misconduct are quite concerning.There are accusations of conflicts of interest, inappropriate compensation for board members, lack of accountability, lack of transparency, and even retaliation. If true, this violates the very principals that SHRM stands for. And that’s not cool.
Third, I feel that their latest strategy to elicit change in the board is, to be blunt, a little short sighted and naive. Why would I say that?
As announced at the SMFT meeting, the group will be putting forth up to 6 write in candidates for the upcoming SHRM board election. The goal is to get their members elected to the SHRM board in an effort to be better able to influence its direction and to get a better grasp of its inner workings.
On the surface, this makes sense. However, even assuming that they get all 6 members elected, even though they are incredibly limited in how they get the word out about these candidates, they will not have a majority and cannot push their changes through. To that, their hope is that even if one write in candidate is elected, they will be able to influence the other board members to see reason.
It is this which I consider both naive and short sighted. If the SHRM board has already decided that they will do what they want, be as secretive as they want, and have already retaliated, they have gone past thee point of “being reasoned with”. The lines have already been drawn.
Frankly, if the SMFT group really has a problem with how things are going, they need to start playing the long game. They need to figure out how far they want to takes this and what exactly they are willing to do. What are their contingency plans if the elections don’t work out and if the SHRM board ignores their attempts at open discussion? If they are looking that far ahead, then they are playing it close to the chest.
I left the meeting with a lot of unanswered questions; questions that I don’t think they could have answered. I hope that SMFT members find some answers for themselves and find a satisfactory resolution to their concerns. I truly do. I hope that somehow the SHRM board and the SMFT group can get together and address these issues. I also think the way SHRM handles this going forward will end up defining SHRM as an organization. I’m curious on how this will play out and you should be too.