Parker Named to Presidential Commission on Financial Literacy

By Steve Bates Jan 23, 2008

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Board Chair Janet N. Parker, SPHR, has been appointed to a new presidential commission established to promote financial literacy among workers and other Americans.

Parker attended a White House ceremony on Jan. 22, 2008, at which President Bush welcomed her and 15 other members of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy and encouraged them to help the public understand, and take control of, their financial futures.

( Watch a video clip of Parkerspeaking about the council and HR’s role in financial literacy.)

Joined by some members of his Cabinet, Bush noted that the work that Parker and her colleagues are tackling comes at a critical time for the U.S. economy as subprime mortgages and volatile stock markets add to Americans’ concerns about their ability to pay their bills and save for retirement.

“I have asked people from the business world, the faith world, the nonprofit world, to join this council in order to come up with recommendations as to how to better educate people from all walks of life about matters pertaining to their finances and their future,” the president stated.

“If we want America to be as hopeful a place as it can be, we want people owning assets. We want people investing. We want people owning homes,” Bush stated. “But oftentimes, to be able to do so requires literacy when it comes to financial matters. And sometimes people just simply don’t know what they’re looking at and reading. And it can lead to personal financial crisis, and that personal financial crisis, if accumulated to too many folks, hurts our country.”

Parker, who is executive vice president of human resources at Regions Financial Corp. in Birmingham, Ala., said after the ceremony that the president’s message was heard clearly by members of the new panel. “It absolutely ties in to what’s going on in the workplace,” she said.

Parker added that other members of the advisory council told her that they were familiar with SHRM’s role in helping improve business competency. “That was really exciting,” she said. “This helps put SHRM front and center” in the effort to help make employers, employees and other Americans knowledgeable about a wide range of financial matters.

But Parker noted that the panel has a lot of work ahead of it. “The president’s message was really about the opportunity we have with financial literacy, about helping people plan and avoid mistakes.” She said she feels that “there is such a passion out there” in the HR community, plus a feeling of “the responsibility we have to help educate people at the grade-school level, in high school and beyond.”

“The exciting thing is that our chapters have already been doing some thingsto improve financial literacy,” said Parker. “They have been spending time in the community, going to schools. You can already see the results.”

The advisory panel’s charter establishes its term as two years. Charles R. Schwab was appointed its first chairman.

Steve Bates is manager of online editorial content for SHRM. He can be reached at

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