SHRM has developed the Better Workplaces Challenge Cup ("Challenge Cup"), which is 3-round competition designed to seek out and promote companies that are developing innovative solutions to workplace challenges in order to create better workplaces.  Your company's participation in the Challenge Cup is subject to the following terms and conditions.

Eligibility Criteria:
Each participating company (hereafter "Participant" or "Company") must meet the following criteria in order to apply and participate in the Challenge Cup

  • Company must be a for-profit, US-based company (SHRM may open up the contest to international participants in future years). 
  • Company cannot have raised more than $10 million in outside funding OR have earned more than $10 million in revenue.
  • Company must have a prototype or minimum viable product.  If Company solution is a service, at least one pilot project must have been successfully completed.
  • Workplace solution must directly contribute to better workplaces. In particular, we will be looking for solutions in the following workplace market segments, though others are encouraged to apply:
    • Business process improvement
    • Communication & engagement
    • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • Employee benefits
    • Employee experience
    • Employee recognition & reward
    • Health & wellness
    • HRIS & payroll
    • Leadership development
    • Learning management
    • Onboarding & knowledge management
    • Performance management
    • Project management
    • Team enhancement
    • Upskilling & reskilling
    • Workforce planning & succession planning
  • Only one application per company.

SHRM seeks to empower HR as a social force for workplace issues. We believe workplaces that actively support diversity, equity, and inclusion are better workplaces. This includes creating opportunities for companies to hire returning citizens, workers with disabilities, veterans, and other underserved populations.   Although not required, preference will be given to companies who model in themselves, and who support their clients, to face biases, shift perspectives, and value diverse employee experiences.


Competition Details:

  • Applicant Selection.  Companies that meet the eligibility criteria must select one of the regions where the first round (local level) of the competition will be held.  Companies must select only one (1) region, which must be within the Region where Company is located.  Once the application is submitted, Company cannot change the chosen region.  Applications must be submitted by the deadline specified for the applicable region.  SHRM will select ten (10) applicants per region to compete in the local level round.  SHRM reserves the right to reject any applicant in its sole discretion.  Applicants will be notified via email no later than two weeks prior to the competition date for the region in which they chose to participate. 
  • Round 1 – Local Level, Virtual (February 2021)
    • Participants are required to prepare and submit a presentation.  All materials are due no later than one week prior to the competition date for the region in which participants will be competing.  Presentations will consist of a 3-minute pre-recorded pitch and a 3-minute Q&A session, where judges will ask questions about the presentation.
    • Participants will make their pitch to a panel of judges, who will evaluate each pitch in accordance with the criteria provided by SHRM. 
    • The top 3 pitches from each region (57 total) will be selected to move on to Round 2.


Note: The pitch is not intended to be advertising and shall not include pricing or other sales-related information.  SHRM reserves the right, at any point in the competition, to require Participants to change or edit presentation materials if they contain sales-related information, or if any material in SHRM's sole, reasonable discretion will negatively impact the reputation of SHRM or its affiliates.  In the event a Company refuses to make any required edits, or SHRM reasonably believes that such materials constitute advertising SHRM may terminate Company's participation in the Challenge Cup.

  • Round 2 – Regional Level, Virtual (April and May 2021)
    • Participants will be provided feedback on the Round 1 presentation, and assist in revising and improving their pitch.
    • Revised presentations are due no later than one week prior to the competition date.
    • Participants will make their pitch to a panel of regional judges, who will evaluate each pitch in accordance with the judging criteria outlined below.
    • One winner per Region (5 total) will be selected to move on to the Finals.


  • Round 3 – Finals (June 2021)
    • Companies in the Final Round will receive an all-expenses paid trip* for (2) representative(s) to SHRM's Annual Conference and Exposition, as well as complimentary booth space in the Workplace Innovation Zone on the Exposition Hall Floor.
    • Participants may, but are not required, to revise their pitches for the Final Round.  Revised presentations are due no later than June 11, 2021.
    • Participants will make their final pitch to a panel of judges at the SHRM Annual Conference, as well as an audience of investors, leading HR professionals, fellow innovators and the media.**
    • The judges will evaluate each pitch in accordance with the competition eligibility criteria, and one (1) winner will be selected.

*Includes flight and hotel accommodations for two (2) nights.

** Company understands and agrees that presentations may be recorded ("Presentation Recordings") for future use by SHRM, including on the SHRM website and in any promotional materials, and Company hereby consents to such recording and use.

  • Judges. Judge panels at the Local Level will be comprised of 3 judges selected from SHRM chapters, the local business community, and SHRM staff.  Judge panels at the Regional Level will be comprised of 3 judges selected from business leaders and SHRM staff.  The Finals judge panel will be comprised of 5 judges selected from top business leaders and SHRM staff.  


  • Prize.  The winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000 to be used as start-up funds to get the participant's proposed solution off the ground and into workplaces.
  • Participant Follow-up.  Company agrees to provide to SHRM a progress report every 6-months for 2 years, demonstrating how the experience (and the prize, if you Company is the winner) has impacted your startup growth.  This information shall be used to improve the Challenge Cup, and may be used for marketing and promotional purposes.


Additional Terms:

  • Termination.  SHRM shall have the right to terminate a Company's participation in the Challenge Cup at any time, in its sole discretion, including upon the occurrence of any of the below events.
    • Participant's violation of any of these terms and conditions
    • SHRM reasonably suspects a participant has provided information in its application that is untrue, inaccurate or incomplete
    • Due to a conflict of values between SHRM and a participating company (conflict of values shall include, but not be limited to, Speaker's involvement in litigation; Speaker's arrest or involvement in other criminal activity; or Speaker's involvement in activities that, in SHRM's sole reasonable discretion, negatively impact the reputation of SHRM)

In addition to the above, if, in SHRM's sole, reasonable discretion, an event cannot be held, or cannot be held in-person, due to health, safety or similar concerns, SHRM reserves the right to cancel or modify any or all competition events, including transitioning to a virtual event. 

  • Personal Data.  Any personal data provided by Company as part of Company's participation in the Challenge Cup shall be subject to the SHRM Privacy Policy.  SHRM shall share Company contact information with the Challenge Cup Sponsor(s).  SHRM shall also share Company personal data with its third-party service providers for the purpose of providing and administering the Challenge Cup.  Company represents and warrants that it has the right to share all personal data with SHRM and that SHRM may process such personal data for the purpose of providing and/or administering the Challenge Cup.
  • Marketing.  Company understands and agrees that presentations may be recorded ("Presentation Recordings") and photographs may be taken during the presentations for future use by SHRM, including on the SHRM website and in any promotional materials, and Company hereby consents to such recording and use of the Presentation Recording and any photographs.  SHRM may also provide Company with pre-approved promotional materials, which Company may use on its website or social media channels for the Term of the Agreement. Upon completion of the Challenge Cup, SHRM may ask Company to provide (1) feedback regarding its experience, and Company agrees to provide such feedback upon request; and/or (2) a testimonial, which shall be voluntary.  Such feedback or testimonials may be used for marketing and promotional purposes.
  • Intellectual Property. 
    • Ownership.  As between SHRM and Company, SHRM is the exclusive owner of the Challenge Cup, and all materials and other intellectual property created by or on behalf of SHRM, including Presentation Recordings, materials and other intellectual property relating to the Challenge Cup, any SHRM or SHRM affiliate conference, ParagonLabs or its related events, or other SHRM or SHRM affiliate programs (collectively, "SHRM Intellectual Property"), are and shall be the sole property of SHRM, and SHRM shall be deemed the author of such works for all purposes, and Company hereby conveys to SHRM any interests Company might otherwise have in such property.    SHRM hereby grants to Company a non-exclusive, royalty-free, revocable, world-wide license for the Term of this Agreement, to use the Presentation Recordings on its website, social media channels, or in other Company materials, including promotional materials, related to Company's participation in the Challenge Cup; provided that Company may only use those portions of a Presentation Recording that highlights Company, and not any portion that includes another company or another company's products or services.  Upon the termination or expiration of this Agreement, Company's license to use the Presentation Recordings shall terminate.  Company shall retain ownership of any materials, products, or services created or owned by Company prior to commencement of this Agreement, or independently developed during the Term of this Agreement, including Company information, any presentations, materials or demonstrations prepared by Company for participation in the Challenge Cup, and products and services highlighted as part of Company's participation in the Challenge Cup (collectively, "Company Intellectual Property").  Company hereby grants to SHRM a non-exclusive, irrevocable, perpetual, royalty free, worldwide license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, reproduce, publish, and creative derivative works of, all application information, the presentations, demonstrations or other materials provided to SHRM hereunder, in any media, including in any promotional materials for the purpose of providing, administering and promoting the Challenge Cup, SHRM and ParagonLabs.
    • Trademark Usage.  Company is the owner of Company name, logo and any other Company trademarks (hereafter, collectively, the "Company Trademarks").  Company hereby grants to SHRM a non-exclusive, revocable right to use the Company Trademarks for the purpose of providing and administering the Challenge Cup, including in any marketing or promotional materials related to the Challenge Cup.  SHRM is the owner of federally registered trademarks for the "Society for Human Resource Management," the "SHRM acronym," "ParagonLabs" and of several other trademarks (hereafter collectively, the "SHRM Trademarks").  Except for any SHRM Trademarks included in any pre-approved promotional materials or SHRM Intellectual Property, which SHRM has licensed to Company hereunder, Company shall not have the right to use the SHRM or ParagonLabs logos, or any other SHRM Trademarks, in any manner without the prior, written approval of SHRM.
    • Copyright Warranty.  Company represents and warrants that Company Intellectual Property is not defamatory, does not infringe the copyright interests or other rights of third parties, and that Company owns all Company Intellectual Property or has the right to convey any licenses provided under the Agreement.  Company shall indemnify SHRM against any claims which may be made against SHRM on the basis that Company Intellectual Property is defamatory or violates the copyright interests or other rights of third parties.


  • Indemnification.  Company agrees to defend, indemnify and hold SHRM harmless against any losses, expenses, costs or damages (including our reasonable attorneys' fees, expert fees' and other reasonable costs of litigation) arising from, incurred as a result of, or in any manner related to any claim or action based upon Company's breach of these terms and conditions, or Company's participation in the Challenge Cup.
  • SHRM Code of Ethics and Exhibitor Terms and Conditions.  All Challenge Cup Participants agree to abide by the SHRM Code of Ethics, and all Participants in the Final Round must adhere to the SHRM Conference Exhibitor Terms and Conditions. 



    1. Character of the Conference. The Conference, sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), is a professional show dedicated to human resource management. SHRM reserves the right to determine the eligibility of any company, product or service, and the right to cancel this Agreement and/or restrict, prohibit or evict any exhibitor or product at any time, if, in the opinion of SHRM, the company/exhibitor, product, or service detracts from the character of the Conference, disparages SHRM (or its services or products), violates any of the following Terms and Conditions, or is otherwise harmful to SHRM (or its services or products) or the Exposition in SHRM's sole discretion. In particular, and without limitation, excessive audio/ visual attention-getting devices or effects and offensive odors are prohibited. No copyrighted, recorded, or live music may be played or performed in connection with the exhibit.
    1. Display Regulations. Exhibitor must comply with all rules in the SHRM Exhibitor Manual (and should review that Manual), as the same may be amended by SHRM in reasonable fashion on reasonable notice to exhibitor, including without limitation the following rules:
        1. No exhibit may block or interfere with a neighboring exhibit as determined by SHRM.
        2. In-line exhibits: Maximum backwall height permitted for any booth exhibit will be 8'. Sidewalls of these exhibits may not extend more than 5' from the backwall so as not to box in adjoining exhibitors, with a maximum height restriction of 4' on the front 5' section.
        3. Open areas or island booths: Exhibit fixtures, components and identification signs will be permitted to a maximum height of 20'. Full use of the island floor space is permitted, as long as no component exceeds the 20' height restriction. Review the exhibitor manual for current rules.
        4. No nails or screws may be driven into the floor. No damage of any nature may be done to the booth structures nor to any part of the exhibit hall.
        5. Exhibitors will be charged a fee for any skids, pallets or containers left behind.
        6. All booth space must be carpeted.
    1. Subleasing and Sharing of Exhibit Space Are Prohibited. All signs, displays and products in a booth must be related to the exhibitor's company.
    1. Exhibit Space Assignments are made on the basis of priority, availability and need, with all assignments made in the best interest of the Conference. SHRM reserves the right to alter an exhibitor's assigned space if it is deemed necessary in the best interest of the Conference. Before exercising its discretion, SHRM will consult with the exhibitor.
    1. Sales of Product or Samples for cash, check or credit card are prohibited on the show floor. Contracts and orders may be written for future delivery of products or services.
    1. Limitation on Room Drops. Exhibitor may not make any room drops at hotels within the SHRM room block without permission of hotel and SHRM; permission may be conditioned on payment of a fee or may be denied within the discretion of hotel or SHRM.
    1. Displays and Exhibits in Public View are required to be appropriately finished on all sides and surfaces. If such surfaces remain unfinished at the start of the Conference, SHRM may authorize the official contractor to effect the necessary finishing and the exhibitor will be required to pay all costs involved.
    1. Exhibit Operation. Exhibitors must operate and maintain their exhibit so that no injury will result to any person or property. Hazardous and nuisance-causing giveaways are prohibited. Damage to property caused by an exhibitor will be paid for by that exhibitor. Do not paint, tape, nail, screw, drill or tack anything to the walls, columns, floor or ceiling of the building, adjoining displays or the official contractor's display material.
    1. Fire Department Regulations and All Other Applicable Laws and Regulations must be complied with by exhibitor. Display and packing material must be flame-retardant. Electrical equipment must be UL-approved and must be wired by a licensed electrician.
    1. Each Exhibitor Shall Indemnify and hold harmless SHRM and the Conference location for all liability in any way related to exhibitors' exhibit or any act or omission of exhibitor or any of its employees or agents; including, without limitation, infringement of any trademark, copyright or other rights of any third parties, accident or injury to invitees, guests, exhibitors, their agents and employees and including loss or damage to personal property.
    1. Cancellation of Exposition. If SHRM should be prevented from holding the Conference for any reason beyond SHRM control (such as, but not limited to, damage to building, riots, strikes, breach by Conference location, acts of government or acts of God), then SHRM has the right to cancel the Conference or any part thereof, with no further liability to the exhibitor.
    1. Exposition Location Rules. Exhibitor shall not cause any violation of the rules of the Conference location.
    1. Food and Beverages must be purchased from the official concessionaire, unless incident to the exhibitor's product lines.
    1. Gifts and Contests. SHRM reserves the right to prohibit, limit or discontinue the distribution of gifts, giveaways or similar promotions. There will be no announcements of exhibitors' contests, drawings or winners during the Conference.
    1. Soliciting outside the confines of the exhibitor's assigned space is prohibited.
    1. Surveys. You must have a written approval from SHRM in order to conduct any survey at the Conference. Requests must be received two weeks prior to the start of the Conference. SHRM reserves the right to decline any survey in its sole discretion.
    1. Labor and Contractors. Exhibitors that plan to use outside Contractors must notify SHRM in writing 60 days prior to the Conference. Outside Contractors are required to supply verification of liability insurance coverage. All labor must have local union clearance.
    1. Competitive Events that distract from the Conference are prohibited.
    1. Nonexhibiting Companies, Organizations and Individuals that supply products and services to SHRM exhibitors or that supply products or services to SHRM attendees are prohibited from soliciting or otherwise marketing their products and services at the Conference.
    1. Exhibitor Registration is limited to sales, marketing, management and special booth personnel. SHRM reserves the right to limit the number of exhibitor personnel.
    1. Installation, Show and Dismantling hours and dates shall be those specified by SHRM. Unless otherwise indicated by SHRM, packing of exhibits prior to the close of the Conference is prohibited. Exhibitor shall be liable for all storage and handling charges for failure to remove exhibits by specified time and date.
    1. Amendments to Rules and Regulations. SHRM will have the full power in the interpretation and enforcement of all contract regulations contained herein, and in the SHRM Exhibitor Manual. The ruling of SHRM shall be final in all instances with regard to use of any exhibit space.




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