Friday, November 18, 2016


It’s day two of the SHRM Volunteer Leader Summit (#SHRMVLS). Yesterday was a good day.  We had 300+ HR pros visit Capitol Hill and talk with our elected officials.  A big thanks to Mike Aitken and the Legislative Affairs Team. This event came off without a flaw, and always does so kudos to the team. Later in the day we heard from SHRM CEO Hank Jackson on the state of the society.  The condensed version of his remarks would be… all is well.

I agree with Hank, at least from where I sit in my SHRM Volunteer role. There is one thing however, that I continue to be concerned about.   As I look around the room at the event I do not see a lot of young faces.  To be clear, a young face would 35 or under. So based upon my completely unscientific analysis I think we as volunteer leaders need to do more to engage and welcome younger people and get them involved in board positions and then groom them for chapter president and state director positions.

You will notice I have refrained from using the “M” word about these folks.  I don’t like the labels because we then associate that with a whole bunch of stereotypical views about them. Google “SHRM” and “Millennials” and you will see what I am talking about.

So what do we do about this? I do not have the pat answers, but I know this; doing something is better than doing nothing. So try something – anything.  My chapter has had a couple after-(drinks) and engaged a couple young folks to reach out to their peers and give them a personal invitation.  Last year at our state council leadership meeting we had a panel discussion with some articulate young folks and gave them an opportunity to tell us (the old people) what is wrong with us and then do some Q & A to help create a dialogue.  As the planning for next year is coming around, we are contemplating doing some 10 minute TED Talks having the younger folks speak to our leaders and tell us how we can better engage them and their peers.

Many of us deal with this in our day jobs and we call it succession planning.  I am suggesting this, all of us as SHRM volunteer leaders need to add this to our collective list of things to do; engage and recruit millennials to our boards.   And just like an effective affirmative action plan, you have to work at this, you have to reach out, and do some things that might fail or that may be uncomfortable. 

Just like Hank told us yesterday, HR has “lead the change.”   

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