SHRM Recruits Advocacy Team Members

By SHRM Online staff Aug 26, 2010
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​​The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is forming its own A-Team, but unlike the 1980s TV show or the 2010 movie, rappelling down high-rise buildings or jumping into vans is not involved.

Instead, SHRM is creating an Advocacy Team (A-Team) throughout the United States to support the Society’s public policy agenda. It will be rolled out over five years. The goal is to establish a network of SHRM members—known as district captains—who will volunteer as key contacts in each of the 435 House of Representatives districts. The district captains will work under the direction of SHRM state legislative directors. District captains will share the HR perspective with their legislators when various bills in the House and Senate have the potential to impact the workplace in their congressional district.

The aim is to establish a working relationship with legislators so those Senate and House members have a trusted source in the HR community, according to David Lusk, SHRM’s senior associate, member advocacy, who is spearheading this effort. In the past, SHRM has addressed legislative issues such as E-Verify, the Family and Medical Leave Act, health care reform, mental health parity rules and workplace safety issues on Capitol Hill.

District captains must reside in the congressional district they represent and must be a SHRM member in good standing. They will coordinate bi-annual visits to district legislative offices in their state to discuss workplace issues that members of Congress or the state legislature is considering.

“What we’re really looking for is building a relationship with that legislative office” so legislators coming across an issue will “want to see what SHRM thinks” before taking a position on workplace-related legislation, said Bob Carragher, manager, government relations, for SHRM.

“We’re just trying to push SHRM issues, rather than align with any one [political] party,” noted Lusk. District captains will “present a balanced view of how a particular workplace issue is going to play out in that congressional district,” he added.

The time commitment is expected to average no more than five hours per month. It will involve checking in with SHRM’s state director periodically and staying updated on public policy proposals impacting the workplace, according to Carragher. Most of a district captain’s time will be spent reaching out to other HR advocates and A-Team members identified in the district and encouraging their participation in outreach efforts with their representatives, Carragher said.

Recruitment and training sessions are scheduled during 2010 for the following states:

  • Florida (25 House districts)—Aug. 31, at the HR Florida Annual Conference & Expo in Orlando.
  • Maine (two districts)—Sept. 9, following the monthly meeting of the Human Resource Association of Eastern Maine in Brewer, Maine.
  • New York (29 districts)—Sept. 14, at the conclusion of the New York State SHRM Annual Conference in Saratoga Springs.
  • Kansas (four districts)—Sept. 17, at the conclusion of the 21st Kansas State SHRM Conference in Overland Park.
  • Alabama (seven districts)—Sept. 28, at the state council’s “Day Inside the Beltway” in Washington, D.C.
  • Washington (nine districts)—Sept. 29, during the Northwest Human Resource Annual Conference & Tradeshow in Sun River, Ore.
  • Arkansas (four districts)—Sept. 30, during the Arkansas SHRM State Council Employment Law and Legislative Affairs Conference in Little Rock.
  • California (53 districts)—Oct. 18, during the Annual California SHRM Legislative Conference in San Jose.

In addition, SHRM has identified Nebraska (three districts), Rhode Island (two districts) and Wisconsin (eight districts) as states where it will be recruiting A-Team members in 2010, but no dates had been set for recruiting/training sessions.

SHRM members interested in becoming involved but who cannot attend the recruitment/training sessions will have another opportunity through online sessions; those dates will be announced later.

The initial list of states identified for recruitment reflects a variety in size, location among the five SHRM U.S. regions and the potential for SHRM to impact legislation given their district’s representation in Congress, Carragher said.

States where A-Team members will be recruited in 2011 are expected to be announced during the November SHRM Leadership Conference in November 2010.

Carragher said there could be as many as 80 new members in the House after the 2010 midterm elections, making the timing of the A-Team initiative fortuitous.

Observed Lusk, “When you have a lot of turnover, that’s why it’s imperative we have this advocacy team in place. Suddenly we’ll have a lot of freshman [congressmen]” who might be voting on policy that could have “unintended consequences” for the workplace. Changes in the Senate and House also could mean changes in who chairs important committees, he said.

Persons interested in joining the A-Team can sign up at http://capwiz.shrm.org/shrm/mlm/signup, where they can indicate the following levels of involvement:

  • Willingness to write to their elected officials about HR-related issues using SHRM’s program, HRVoice.
  • Willingness to volunteer at an advocacy event, including local chapter events.
  • Willingness to help recruit A-Team members.
  • Willingness to attend a local meeting with their elected officials.
  • Willingness to contact the news media, such as sending in a letter to the editor or speaking on the record about an issue important to SHRM.
  • Willingness to serve as an expert on a particular HR competency and testify on that issue on behalf of SHRM at a legislative hearing in their state or Washington, D.C., and to list the subject area in which they have expertise.

Participation can be a resume-builder, according to Lusk.

“It has the potential … of grooming new leaders, even within the chapter level, who have developed their presence through this,” he said, adding that it could raise a SHRM member’s profile in his or her own organization by showcasing their leadership skills.

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