CEO Update Regarding Board Elections and Other Matters
The SHRM Board and management have listened and responded to members of the Group questioning the governance of SHRM. This has been on-going at least since 2005. In June 2012, I spoke with their spokesperson and in our prior conversations, I listened to all of their concerns; our Board Chair discussed the group’s concerns with their spokespersons. In addition, group members personally wrote to all SHRM Board Members and they shared their concerns with the MAC. After our discussions, many of the respected members of the group informed us that they would no longer associate with the group.
We realize that reasonable people can and will disagree on policy issues and that all members are entitled to raise concerns they have. Nonetheless, the issues raised by this group have been exhaustively heard by SHRM management and the Board and we have explained the reasoning behind our decisions. SHRM is excited about the future and our role in leading the profession and we will continue to move forward with your support. We respect the input from those who have contributed to SHRM in the past and hope they appreciate that we have made decisions based on the rapidly evolving global environment SHRM and its members, and all businesses face today, which is very different from 15 to 20 years ago.
All decisions made by the SHRM Board have been made in the best interests of SHRM, its members, and our profession, and have been based upon extensive deliberation, and expert professional advice.
As SHRM continues to grow, we need to be able to recruit and retain the most qualified Board members, which must include individuals with varied expertise and experience, in addition to individuals within the human resources profession. Although, SHRM is not subject to Sarbanes Oxley, a law that requires certain organizations to have specific varied expertise, this is a best practice that the Board of Directors has chosen to institute. In today’s marketplace, we compete for the best Board talent with major corporations, within our membership and with other leading associations. To attract the best and include individuals outside our profession necessitates some compensation. The honoraria we have been providing since 2005 helps SHRM compete in the marketplace to attract and retain the individuals we need.
Before we took the step to offer honoraria, we did our due diligence. The Ohio Non-profit Corporation Act, under which SHRM is incorporated, expressly allows the Board of Directors to establish reasonable compensation for the Board. The reasonableness of the compensation levels voted on by the Board was supported by a written study and opinion from a nationally recognized compensation expert.
Compensation levels are disclosed in Board meeting summaries made available to all SHRM members and reported to the IRS as income to each director receiving the honoraria. The honoraria policy requires that a director must be prepared for committee and Board meetings and participate in quarterly Board meetings in order to receive honorarium.
We realize that this shift from the past to more varied expertise on the Board has not been embraced by some past employees and past Board directors, but we believe that this is in the longer-term interest of our current 260,000 members and future generations of our profession.
Business Class Travel
For clarification purposes, business travel for Board Members on SHRM business has been a policy for many years, although I am not exactly sure when it was implemented. The current policy only removed a mileage restriction from the old policy, although some have intimated that it is a new policy. The current policy is similar to travel policies for many of our Board Members’ companies, as well as senior executives in most organizations who are expected to work productively and confidentially on business matters while traveling.
Again, prior to taking this action we did our due diligence. The travel policy voted on by the Board was supported by a written study and opinion, without qualification, from a nationally recognized compensation expert.
There seems to be some confusion around the dues increases. As you know, SHRM raised professional member dues for 2011 by $20 from $160 per year to $180 per year, even though it currently costs approximately $225 to provide basic member services. This was the first dues increase in over 20 years and is in line with one of the core elements of our strategic plan – to be financially sustainable. The SHRM Board determined that in light of the increasing costs to support our members that it was prudent to raise annual dues by this modest $20 amount.
In voting to raise dues, the Board had the benefit of price comparative studies of similar organizations and an assessment by the membership of the value of SHRM-provided member services. Each of these data points indicated that a SHRM membership at $180 is a tremendous bargain and we have received many comments from members in support of this position.
Some have interpreted the guideline for staff to review dues in light of the CPI every two years as an automatic dues increase; however, this is not the case. SHRM’s Bylaws require the Board of Directors to approve the dues level each year and that policy is still in place.
Non-HR Professionals on the SHRM Board
The Board has been unwilling to make HRCI certification an absolute requirement for each and every member of the Board because such a policy would unduly limit SHRM’s ability to have a Board comprised of individuals with many different and important areas of expertise, which is a best practice for high performing organizations. Be assured that this practice will always allow for a sufficient number of certified members on the Board to represent the HR profession.
SMFT Survey Document
I have had several requests about how best to respond to a survey questionnaire and results that volunteer leaders may have received in July 2012 from a group implying an affiliation with SHRM.
First, I wanted to let you know that we are aware of the group’s survey related to SHRM. We are not involved -- nor do we endorse -- this effort. It is not a SHRM document and to research professionals this appears to be a commentary as opposed to an actual survey instrument; nor does it support any SHRM initiatives to advance the profession.
Also, we are not surprised by the timing of this survey. This group typically piggybacks off of big events -- like the SHRM Annual Conference -- to try to promote its agenda to the SHRM membership. Please be aware that we have responded to the group’s issues, and you are under no obligation to respond to the group’s survey, the survey results or any other matters related to the group on behalf of SHRM or its chapters.
SHRM Board Elections
Some of you have inquired about an August 2012 e-mail from a group outside of SHRM regarding the upcoming Board Elections. The e-mail inaccurately implies a change in the election process.
The SHRM Board Elections are held in strict accordance with the SHRM Bylaws, Elections and Balloting (Article VIII), and are neither early nor late this year. As has been the custom for well over a decade, the Annual Business Meeting of the Society is held on the last day of the SHRM Leadership Conference which is scheduled for November 17, 2012. Ballots are being mailed in accordance with SHRM Bylaws which require they are mailed at least sixty days prior to the Annual Business Meeting.
The SHRM Bylaws governing the process for write-in candidates have not been amended or changed in over a decade.
The Board has always appointed SHRM members to serve as voting inspectors based upon their membership tenure, knowledge and objectivity. This year the Board appointed members of the Membership Advisory Council—who clearly meet this criteria—to serve as voting inspectors to ensure that the membership was again represented in the election process. The SHRM Bylaws (including election procedures) have always been posted on the website and are available to all members for review.
SHRM has made great strides over the past decade. Notwithstanding a very difficult economic climate, our membership continues to grow and now exceeds 260,000 members. Recently, we had the highest member satisfaction survey results, ever, while revenue continues to exceed our budgeted expectations. We have just concluded one of the most successful Annual Conferences in Atlanta with over 13,500 attendees. With this success, what’s more exciting is that we are publishing standards for the profession and have just released a new set of professional HR competencies, which has been well-received and was commented on by 32,000 members, the largest SHRM survey response ever.
With respect to responding to other communications from this Group to SHRM chapter members and volunteers, you should feel free to share any of the information above. Ideally, we hope that you would do so through phone calls or in-person meetings to ensure that there is feedback and an exchange of ideas.
I hope this document helps explain what’s going on. Please call us anytime if you need guidance on responding to this group, or email me directly at email@example.com.
The Board and I thank you for your SHRM Membership and appreciate your continued support.
President & CEO, SHRM