2021 Pinnacle Award Winners ‘Reinvent World of Work’

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek November 11, 2021
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​Providing professional support during the pandemic. Advocating for a new state workplace-violence law. Raising awareness around transgender issues. These were among the innovative programs singled out for 2021 Pinnacle Awardsthe highest honor that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) bestows on its affiliates.

"SHRM affiliates are leading the way in reinventing the world of work," said SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. "By pioneering educational programs, creating inclusive cultures, and increasing the workforce readiness of underserved and underemployed populations, each SHRM chapter and state council winner helped to lift up their community."

Nine chapters and three state councils received the Pinnacle Award during SHRM's virtual Volunteer Leaders' Business Meeting, Nov. 10 and 11.

Awards were given in one of three categories—Serving the Professional, Advancing the HR Profession and Enhancing the SHRM Community—and winners included state councils and chapters that ranged in size from small, medium and large, to mega and super mega categories.

This year, recipients were from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Winners were selected from 70 applications, with internal and external judges evaluating the merits of the programs on whether they served the HR profession, enhanced the SHRM community or advanced the HR profession. The prize included $1,000 and a crystal plaque. 

Winning programs also were showcased during a general session at the event, receiving special recognition from Mike Aitken, SHRM's senior vice president of membership. Paychex Inc. sponsored the award, which SHRM created in 1991.

SHRM Workplace Impact Award

New this year is the SHRM Workplace Impact Award, providing an extra level of recognition to a chapter or state council that created an initiative around untapped talent management.

The Greenville SHRM chapter from South Carolina is the winner of this inaugural award for "Cracking the Code: HR Intel on Civilian Employment." It focused on easing the transition of veterans from military service into civilian careers.

The chapter's Workforce Inclusion Committee developed a three-hour self-paced video course that featured interviews from HR experts on little-known career-related topics to reveal the "inside scoop" on civilian employment.

Using videos, worksheets and resource materials, veterans could learn about topics not typically covered in military transition courses. Following successful completion of the course, which was launched July 2021, veterans and HR professionals participated in an employment networking event. It already has attracted 47 veteran participants.

Taylor commended the chapter for its commitment to attracting, hiring and retaining veterans as they transition from the military to civilian careers.

"To successfully re-envision the future of work, HR must be instrumental in creating and implementing strategies to engage untapped talent pools," he said.

Raymond James sponsored the new award, which includes a $2,500 prize.

[SHRM members-only chapter and council support: SHRM's Volunteer Leader Resource Center]  

Pinnacle Award Winners

Serving the Professional

Small ChapterBig Horn Mountain Chapter (Wyoming)
"Professional Development During a Pandemic."

The chapter's board created a professional development initiative to address the two main problems facing professionals in their community—the lack of available funding and obstacles to participate in programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative resulted in awarding twice the number of professional development scholarships, expanded program outreach to individuals outside of the chapter's immediate area, and allowed HR professionals to continue to receive credits, as well as crucial education and training on the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Medium and Large ChapterHuman Resource Association of Central Connecticut (HRACC)
"Pandemic Pivot: Focusing on Member Support and Engagement."

This initiative provided members and local HR professionals with the tools, knowledge and resources they needed to meet the unprecedented demands created by the current climate. The chapter took a four-point approach:

  1. It offered an updated suite of programming to help members in their roles.
  2. It increased the number of educational opportunities.
  3. It enhanced its free certification study group to prepare members to pass exams and enhance timely HR competency knowledge.
  4. It created additional networking opportunities. By implementing this program, HRACC successfully held 19 programs in 2021. 

Mega and Super Mega CategorySacramento Area Human Resource Association (California) and San Diego SHRM (California)
"Mega Collaboration Results in MegaHR Conference."

The Sacramento Area Human Resource Association partnered with San Diego SHRM to create a virtual experience called the MegaHR Conference, which spanned the month of September 2020. It allowed members to continue their professional development, obtain recertification credits and make connections in a virtual world. The conference led to greater collaboration with nine chapters in California and Arizona, and generated tens of thousands of dollars in net revenue during a financially tumultuous time.

State CouncilVermont SHRM State Council
"Cultivating Transgender-Affirming Workplaces."

For five days in October 2020, the state council offered a two-part series for HR leaders and their peers, "Cultivating Transgender-Affirming Workplaces." This was designed to increase awareness about how HR professionals can cultivate a safer work environment for transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming employees across Vermont. The series educated business leaders—both within HR and throughout organizations—on issues transgender employees face. It also opened conversations to help businesses foster welcoming environments. 

Advancing the HR Profession

Small Chapter—Dodge County SHRM (Wisconsin)
"A Deliberate Path Toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion."

The chapter organized and hosted an in-person diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) conference to address a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion DE&I awareness and hiring practices. This attracted 173 attendees who were able to immediately implement key takeaways around topics, that included DE&I fundamental building blocks, recognizing bias behavior and aligning DE&I principles. 

Medium and Large ChapterWest Sound HRMA (Washington state)
"Second Chance Employers Forum."

The chapter partnered with its local community college, Olympic College, to present the virtual Second Chance Employment Forum to local businesses and government leaders, which attracted more than 70 attendees. The forum shined a light on supporting individuals with conviction histories and how to assist their reintegration into the community by reducing barriers to training and employment, strengthening families, and benefiting the community. The event also provided legislative updates about employing individuals with criminal histories, as well as resources and tools for both employers and employees. 

Mega and Super Mega ChapterTwin Cities SHRM (Minnesota)
"Twin Cities SHRM Cares Campaign."

The chapter developed this initiative to help support its members, their companies' workforces and the overall Twin Cities community through the challenges of 2020. It focused on providing members with the support, tools and forums needed to help their employees and companies with issues such as record-high furloughs and layoffs. The result: The chapter not only retained members in job transition but also gained new members. 

State CouncilMaryland SHRM State Council
"Workplace Violence—Peace Orders."

The state council, in partnership with the Maryland Nurses Association, the Maryland Hospital Association and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, led advocacy efforts that resulted in a new law signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, effective October 2021. The law helps remove barriers an employer can experience when protecting its workplace from the threat of imminent harm. As a result, the state council inspired many other Maryland SHRM chapters and HR legislative advocates to become involved in government and advocacy. 

Enhancing the SHRM Community

Small ChapterSouthern Indiana SHRM
"Our 20/20 Vision is Clear—Support, Connect & Engage."

The chapter created this initiative to increase the number of virtual meetings by collaborating with various local groups. The focus of the free meetings was to educate HR professionals on dual SHRM membership benefits, SHRM certification and the SHRM Foundation, as well as to increase awareness of the chapter and ultimately grow its membership. The programs were made available to other SHRM chapters and HR groups across Indiana and Kentucky. The result: The number of remote participants increased from five to more than 100 during several meetings and helped increase chapter membership and broaden membership beyond the area. 

Medium ChapterChester County HR Association (Pennsylvania)
 "Chamber of Commerce Outreach Partnership."

The chapter partnered with local chambers of commerce to expand its resources in the community and help small businesses and nonprofits acquire timely HR-related information. This helped meet the chapter's goal to provide HR expertise, knowledge and continued education to its members and surrounding community members. The result: Chester County HR Association has expanded its outreach to multiple chambers in its community and provided valuable information for its local area. 

MegaAnchorage SHRM (Alaska)
"Supporting Students Joining the Workforce: Partnering with Anchorage School District's Career READY Program."

The chapter partnered with the Anchorage School District's Career READY Program, to help students learn from professionals with real-world HR experience. Anchorage SHRM volunteers provided personalized resume feedback and conducted one-on-one mock phone interviews with students. The program also provided tools and evaluation skills students need to make smart and informed choices as they embark on their future career path. During the 2020-2021 school year, 360 students participated in the program across nine different high schools. 

State CouncilGarden State Council SHRM (New Jersey)
"GSC SHRM Community Connection Sessions."

Within just 20 days of the initial stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, and because of the mental health impact the pandemic had on state council members and the HR community, the state council organized and launched its first "Community Connection Session." This no-cost, interactive initiative provided a virtual safe space to regularly obtain support, share ideas, gain perspective and assist one another during unprecedented times. Between March 2020 and June 2021, the state council hosted 21 sessions to support its members, and it plans to continue the initiative through the immediate future.

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