SHRM Transparency Group Granted Long-Sought Meeting with SHRM Board

What was intended to be a meeting to announce an aggressive new move to get members of the board of the Society for Human Resource Management to speak to the SHRM Members for Transparency changed course Sunday when Kathryn McKee, a leading member of the transparency group, announced somewhat of an olive branch from the SHRM board.

It wasn’t any formal move by either group, McKee told attendees at a luncheon near the site of SHRM’s 2011 Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas. The branch came in the form of a chance meeting Saturday in one of the conference halls between McKee; Henry Hart, corporate counsel for SHRM; Rob Van Cleave, immediate past chair; and Jose Berrios, current board chairman.

“Henry Hart said to me that the board of directors had just voted to agree to meet with this group,” McKee said. “There’s a hole in the soul of SHRM, but a miracle just happened yesterday that may begin” to repair that hole.

Though no firm date for the meeting has been set, McKee said she had the SHRM board’s word that the two groups would meet shortly after the conference to begin discussion about future leadership and leadership practices that had become a bone of contention since the transparency group began expressing concerns and hopes for such a meeting as far back as 2005.

“I looked in each one of their eyes,” McKee said, after also telling the luncheon group that she had demanded, and got, hugs from each. “I believe them.”

Issues the transparency group hopes will soon be put on the table include its  contention that SHRM board members should be SHRM-certified and many currently are not, the fact that many board members are not current or former practitioners, and the fact that SHRM board directors had voted recently to pay themselves fees for their voluntary services (something transparency group leader Mike Losey called “absolutely wrong” and in defiance of the SHRM bylaws he followed himself through many years as the association’s past president and CEO).

The group — in anticipation of an upcoming announcement just hours away that SHRM had just named a new CEO, Hank Jackson, past interim president and CEO — is also hoping Jackson will also be a part of that meeting, or meetings, between SHRM and the SHRM transparency group going forward.

Gerry Crispin, a leading member of both groups and founder and co-CEO of staffing site CareerXroads, told those in attendance that the transparency group was prepared to activate a section of Article 7 of the SHRM bylaws that would have forced the meeting if 10 percent of SHRM members would express favor for such a meeting. Crispin detailed how the transparency group was prepared to employ social media pushes — through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter — to garner that support, something he and others assured listeners would be, no doubt, very successful.

More importantly, they say, should the promised meeting fail to happen, or fail to lead to their desired goals, such a push to force a meeting would be instituted after all.

“We are very excited that this is a step in the right direction,” said transparency group member Kate Herbst.