From the CEO: A Year for Advocacy

Following a banner year of speaking out on workplace issues, SHRM is poised to do the same in 2016.

By By Henry G. Jackson Feb 1, 2016

In 1984, when the late Ron Pilenzo, former president and chief operating officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), wanted to move the organization’s headquarters from the Cleveland area to the outskirts of Washington, D.C., he faced an uphill battle. There were questions, operational hurdles and challenges. Yet he felt strongly that, for SHRM to be a leading voice on public policy issues affecting the workplace, it needed to be closer to the action.

“We wanted to be near think tanks and government,” Pilenzo recounted in one of his final interviews. “We wanted to be the group that the federal government would call first on HR issues.” Fast-forward to today, and SHRM is that respected and highly sought-after voice.

SHRM staffers now walk the halls of Congress, meeting with lawmakers about key HR issues from immigration to paid leave to health care. Last year alone, Congress and federal agencies reached out to SHRM over 100 times. In addition, SHRM and our strategic affiliate, the Council for Global Immigration, are at the table for high-level international meetings such as the recent B20 Summit in Turkey, where we helped develop employment recommendations for the world’s largest economies.

In fact, 2015 was a banner year for SHRM advocacy efforts. SHRM led a strong campaign to raise concerns about the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed changes to the overtime rules, helped protect tax credits for employer-provided benefits, sent our highest-ever number of SHRM members to testify before public policymakers and more. For a list of our top 10 advocacy accomplishments of 2015, read our HR Issues Update, available in the advocacy section of

With the U.S. presidential election on the horizon and employment issues at the top of legislative and regulatory agendas, this year is also shaping up to be a critical time to ensure that HR’s voice is heard.

We must accept this challenge and continue to be a leading voice on people management. No one else has as much insight as HR does into companies and the people who drive their success. No other profession knows the complex, rapidly changing world of work quite like we do. This means HR professionals are in the best position to speak to the real-life implications of workplace public policy.

Back on the job, organizations will also need HR’s leadership to navigate a landscape of new overtime rules, immigration guidelines, flexibility laws and regulations, and much more. We will address these timely issues at the SHRM 2016 Employment Law & Legislative Conference, to be held March 13-16 in Washington, D.C. I invite you to join us.

It’s been more than three decades since SHRM picked up its Ohio roots and moved to our nation’s capital. Being at the epicenter of public policymaking is just as important now as it was then. In what will be a landmark year ahead for workplace issues, you can be sure that advocacy will be part and parcel of the work we do at SHRM.

As the world’s largest HR professional society, it is not only our responsibility to serve as a leading voice on behalf of effective human resource management, it’s our mission.

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