Should You Belong to SHRM?

(Used with no permission but used
with kindness.)

 The organization of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) has been taking some heat from a number of bloggers. Prodded on by Laurie Ruettimann a group of us offered blog posts that offered critiques, criticism, ideas and even some praise. Some of the folks at Fistful of Talent discussed their rejections as speakers at an upcoming conference and in the ensuing comments there was a call for an alternative conference, comments regarding the relevance of SHRM, and some people saying they were considering dropping their membership(s) in SHRM and SHRM chapters. Then the other day Jason Lauritsen wrote a blog post entitled SHRM Isn’t the Problem, I am. A well written post that discussed the issues of HR as profession and how SHRM has been the scapegoat for the angst felt.

In my blog post on SHRM I expressed a desire for them to be thought leaders in the field, to strive to transform the profession. Jason shot that down, and he is right. Professions do not get changed by associations. Associations follow the field and have to appeal to “early adopters” as well as the folks that resist change. It is practioners that lead change. Practioners enact change. Practioners provide examples of how to do things better.

SHRM is THE organization of the HR profession. There are others, but none with the membership numbers (one national organization boasts a membership that is half of the membership of SHRM-Atlanta) that SHRM has. So SHRM does represent the profession. So it behooves us to remain involved. It behooves us to try to enact change in the association from the inside. Much of the superstructure of SHRM, its chapters, are volunteer organizations. Many of these chapters have a great need for leadership. Taking a leadership role in a local organization is a great way for professionals to demonstrate new ways of doing HR and influence for change. If enough people are providing leadership on the grass roots level the association as a whole will have a greater capacity for change.

So to answer the question in the title, Should you belong to SHRM, my answer is yes. You should belong on both the national and local levels. And here are some other things you should do:

  • Take a volunteer role or a leadership role
  • Be active in your memberships (you only get out of an organization what you put in)
  • Continue to be critical, but make it constructive criticism. Organizations won’t change without feedback.
  • Remember your profession is your responsibility.

This has not been an elegant post. You need  must  read Jason’s post SHRM isn’t the problem, I am. He is much more eloquent than I am. I commented on his post and said he had saved me from writing this post. But I went to sleep last night thinking about this. Probably because of the SHRM-Atlanta meeting I had gone to on Wednesday. I have been a member of SHRM national and SHRM-Atlanta for most of my HR career. I have occasionally let memberships lapse but have always come back. I have held several leadership and volunteer positions in the past. I have also been a critic in the past (and present) and will continue to be so. You should be one too… but you have to earn that right. So get involved and stay involved and move the profession and the association ahead.

BTW, for those of you who may be looking for an entry-level postion in HR, getting involved in a SHRM chapter and working hard and diligently as a volunteer will give you exposure to potential hiring managers who may overlook your lack of experience because of what they have seen you demonstrate as a volunteer. Think about it.

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