Access Exclusive, Trusted HR News & Resources >>> New Professional Members Save $20 Today
We asked HR professionals to tell us about their time in HR. Here are their stories.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Set yourself up for success with virtual SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP Certification Prep Seminars.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Almost everything affects HR: society, politics, economics, law, science, medicine. Here are 50 people from various disciplines who significantly changed what HR does or how it does it.
Human resource management is an incredibly multidisciplinary endeavor, affected in ways large and small by social and political trends, economics, law, and advances in science and technology, not to mention employees individual differences and flaws that make us all human.
In observance of HR Magazines 50th anniversary, the editors identified 50 people whointentionally or nothave changed HR: what it does, how it does it, how its perceived or some combination thereof. As youll see, they come from wide-ranging fields; most are not even HR professionals. And while most of their contributions were positive, some had negative or mixed results.
Compiling any such list is a subjective exercise, of course, and many candidates were considered. Who would you include from the last 50 years? Send us your suggestions by going to
www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/contact and clicking Id like to submit a letter to the editor. Be sure to give reasons for your nominations, but dont worrywe wont require you to decide who youd omit from this list to make room for your selection.
Among all of industrialist Henry J. Kaisers storied accomplishments during the 1900shighways, dams, automobiles, World War II Liberty Shipsperhaps none bears a deeper imprint of his signature than his initiatives in employer-sponsored health care. Prepaid, group-practice coverage, now a standard in health delivery, gained ground after Kaiser established one of the earliest such plans in the 1930s and 40s for his construction workers. By the mid-1950s, his health plan had several hospitals and, by one estimate, about 500,000 members, but it hadnt spread as far or as fast as Kaiser had hopedeven though the U.S. Supreme Court had rejected organized medicines principal argument in opposing such ar-rangements. A decade later, however, as health costs were rising and policy-makers were seeking ways to expand coverage to more of the uninsured, Kaisers managed-care model began to take off through creation of health maintenance organizations. And his approachs emphasis on prevention is a core feature of todays consumer-directed health plans. In addition, the Kaiser Family Foundation has become a broad-ranging source of health information and research for HR professionals who make decisions about health care coverage for employees.
Isabel Briggs Myers
Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), one of the earliest and best-known personality assessments. Both women were attracted to the ideas of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and spent years studying his work and seeking practical applications. Myers began creating questionnaires that measure people along four basic preference scales, which can be combined into 16 types. By 1943, the first version of the test was copyrighted; the next year, a version was used as a pre-employment test in the banking industry. In the 1950s and 60s, Myers tested thousands of medical students and nurses, believing personality insights would be especially useful for health professionals entrusted with caring for others. Her big break came in 1962, when the Educational Testing Service agreed to publish the MBTI. Myers continued to research and refine what had become her lifes work until her death in 1980. Today, more than 2.5 million people take the Myers-Briggs instrument annually to help in career planning, management and leadership training, and team building.
After World War II, William Levittusing experience he gained building homes with his brother, Alfred, and father, Abrahamapplied assembly-line techniques to the mass production of suburban subdivisions. His first, Levittown, N.Y., grew to 17,000 homes by 1951. The homes he built, fueled by financing from Veterans Administration-guaranteed mortgages and made more accessible by a new national highway system, helped house the post-war baby boom. While suburbanization would have happened anyway, Levitts massive real estate developments hastened and shaped the new American landscape and way of life. The companys early refusal to sell homes to blacks contributed to white flight and segregation of schools. The expanding suburban sprawl impacted the workplace, leaving employers and their workers to combat long commutes and lost productivity with carpools, transit benefits, flextime, telecommuting and satellite offices.
William Russell Kelly
William Russell Kelly opened the Russell Kelly Office Service in 1946 in Detroit with just two employees who did typing and copying jobs sent in by customers. Soon, employers began requesting that Kellys employees come to their offices to work, particularly to operate office equipment, and the company grew by leaps and bounds. In 1954, Kelly opened its first office outside of Michigan. Early recruiters showed female workers a filmstrip about how to explain to their husbands that it was OK for them to work. By the end of 1964, the company, now called Kelly Girl, had expanded to 169 offices in 44 states. Two years later, reflecting changing attitudes toward women, the company changed its name to Kelly Services Inc. By the time of Kellys death in 1998, his company had become a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 operation with many competitors. In 2004, 6,000 U.S. staffing firms employed an average of 2.5 million temporary workers each day and had annual revenues of $70 billion, according to the American Staffing Association.
W. Edwards Deming
An American acknowledged as the author of Japans post-World War II economic boom, W. Edwards Deming was largely unknown in the United States when he convinced a gathering of Japanese business owners in 1950 that raising the quality of their notoriously shoddy products would improve productivity and shrink expenses as well as boost demand. Profit in business comes from repeat customers, Deming later wrote, customers that boast about your product or service, and that bring friends with them. Deming, a physicist and statistician, never ran a business, but his teachings on quality control (now known as total quality management) had many Japanese corporationsnotably automakersbeating their U.S. competitors by the late 1970s. Even then, Deming remained largely ignored in his home country until a 1980 NBC documentary on the Japanese ascendancy focused on his 14 principles for business effectiveness. From then until his death in 1993, Deming was in great demand as a consultant to U.S. corporations, too.
The manager is the dynamic, life-giving element in every business, Peter Drucker wrote in The Practice Of Management (1954). Without his leadership, the resources of production remain resources and never become production. Druckers long career has produced many observations that now seem essential, even obvious, but were revolutionary when he wrote them: An organization is sick when it is more concerned with avoiding mistakes than with taking risks. The moment people talk of implementing instead of doing, and of finalizing instead of finishing, the organization is already running a fever. A managers task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant. Drucker was an early critic of excessive executive compensation. In an interview in Wired magazine in 1996, Drucker said, Whats absolutely unforgivable is the financial benefit top management people get for laying off people. This is morally and socially unforgivable, and we will pay a heavy price for it.
George Meanys career in organized labor spanned six decades and climaxed with his engineering of the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1955. During his 27-year tenure as AFL-CIO president, Meany helped shift the U.S. labor movement from radical to conservative, preferring to achieve goals through lobbying and arbitration than through strikes and marches. He was intensely anti-communist, an advocate of the war in Vietnam and, for a time, a supporter of Republican Richard Nixon. During Meanys presidency, workers acquired higher wages, shorter hours and greater benefits, although later many of these gains were lost to a worsening economy and global competition. Holding the federation together then, as now, was a difficult business. He expelled Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters Union from the AFL-CIO, and the United Auto Workers (UAW) left after disputes between Meany and more liberal UAW President Walter Reuther. Meany retired in 1979.
If a training colleague asks what youre doing about Level 4 evaluationand you know what hes talking aboutyou have Donald Kirkpatrick to thank. In 1959, Kirkpatrick published a series of articles in what is now T+D magazine outlining his model that became the standard for training evaluation. The Kirkpatrick Model evaluates training effectiveness in four phases: Level 1 is reaction, a short survey conducted immediately after the training; Level 2 tests learning, measuring knowledge before and after the training; Level 3 evaluates a change in behavior after a certain lapse of time, usually a minimum of six weeks; and Level 4 evaluates the impact of the training to the company, or the financial return on investment. Kirkpatrick, a sought-after speak- er at training and HR conferences and author of several books, said in 2003: I am amazed that the work of my dissertation turned out to be of so much interest and value to so many people. When I decided to evaluate a training program that I was teaching, I asked, What should I try to measure? and the rest is history.
The outplacement industry has its roots in the work of Bernard Haldane, who developed job counseling services, including skills and interests assessments, to help returning World War II veterans find jobs. Saul Gruner was one of his early employees and franchisees. When Gruner and Haldane were hired by Humble Oil Co. in 1960 to help find jobs for some long-term employees whose jobs were obsolete due to automation, it marked the first time that a corporation, rather than an individual, purchased job search services. By 1968, 13 more corporate clients had sought such services, and Gruner saw the potential for this market. In 1969, Gruner and advertising executive Tom Hubbard founded Thinc Consulting Group Inc., the first firm devoted exclusively to providing outplacement services for employers. Subsequent waves of corporate downsizings created a $1 billion industry. More than 80 percent of U.S. employers provide some kind of transition services to employees, according to global human capital management and transitions firm DBM.
If youve heard the term mommy track, youve metin a waythe late Felice N. Schwartz. In 1962, Schwartz founded Catalyst, a New York-based organization focusing at first on counseling and referral services for female workers. In 1975, Catalyst turned its attention more toward educating and lobbying business to open leadership opportunities for women. Schwartz was a controversial feminist who rattled the world of work in 1989 with a Harvard Business Review article, Management Women and the New Facts of Life. She said companies should be flexible and accommodating toward talented female managers whose priorities include their families. Otherwise, she maintained, employers would lose talent and see their costs increase. She suggested now-familiar approaches such as job-sharing and part-time work. But feminist critics accused her of advocating a lower-paid mommy track for professional women. Schwartz headed Catalyst until 1993 and died in 1996. My mother was a pragmatist, Schwartzs son, Tony, later wrote in Fast Company magazine. She appealed not to the conscience of male corporate executives but to their bottom line.
Viva la Huelga! (Long live the strike!) is a rallying cry of the United Farm Workers (UFW) of America. Its founder, Cesar Chavez, used not just strikes but boycotts of agricultural products and occasionally even fasts in an effort to improve conditions and pay for migrant farm workers. Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962; the organization later became the UFW, the first successful union of farm workers in U.S. history. The union was a major force in the five-year-long Delano Grape Strike that eventually led to a historic contract with growers. Seen as a spiritual as well as political leader, Chavez held a fast in 1968 to promote nonviolence as well as call attention to the workers cause. In the 1970s, the UFW organized strikes and boycotts to get higher wages from grape and lettuce growers. During the 1980s, Chavez again led a boycott and fasted to protest the use of toxic pesticides in the fields.
Sam Waltons relentless cost-cutting drove retailing to previously unimagined scales of volume. From a single store in 1962, Wal-Mart eventually became the worlds largest private employer with 1.3 million workers at nearly 5,000 stores. Recent HR woes have overshadowed some enlightened practices that nurtured the hyper-growth. Walton freely shared financial information with employees, encouraging department managers to think like entrepreneurs. After going public in 1970, Wal-Mart was an early user of stock options for employees. An early adopter of technology to manage inventory and logistics, Walton approved a private satellite network in the 1980s that sped data transmissions and allowed him to speak to store employees via video as personal visits became impossible. Although Wal-Mart has been named several times to Fortune magazines list of Most Admired Companies, its image has suffered in recent years from HR-related issues. In 2000, the chain disbanded meat-cutting departments nationwide after butchers at one store voted to unionize. It is fighting a class-action lawsuit filed in 2001 alleging discrimination in pay and promotions against 1.6 million current and former female workers. In 2003, authorities arrested undocumented janitorial workers for contractors in 60 stores, after which workers sued for wage and hour violations. The company remains a prime target of union organizers, who criticize its low wages and health care benefits. Walton died in 1992.
On July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed into law the most sweeping civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction era. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin and gave the federal government the power to enforce desegregation. President Kennedy had proposed the legislation before his assassination in 1963. Johnsons congressional experience and political skill enabled him, with the assistance of Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen, R-Ill., to bring the proposal to a vote in spite of a lengthy Senate filibuster. The bill passed with bipartisan support of more than two-thirds of the House and the Senate. The following year, Johnson signed Executive Order 11246, which required companies doing business with the federal government to take affirmative action to avoid discrimination in hiring and promotions. Johnson also signed The Equal Pay Act in 1963 to prohibit wage differences based on gender. In the tumultuous era of the 1960s, Johnson played a significant role in advancing civil rights and dramatically changing the modern workplace.
A graphic artist, teacher and sculptor, Robert Propst designed the first open-plan system of reconfigurable office cubicles for the Herman Miller furniture company in 1964. His studies of people at work led him to conclude that todays office is a wasteland. It saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment. It is the daily scene of unfulfilled intentions and failed effort. Propsts design was intended to provide a better fit for the way people really work and to promote a workable balance between privacy and access to other employees. But before his death in 2000, Propst had come to regret the way his concept was applied by many companies, which used cubicles to cram more workers into smaller spaces and to take advantage of tax laws that allowed them to write off depreciation of cubicles more quickly than traditional offices. Many cubicle farms replicated the unhappy environment Propst was trying to improve in the 1950s and 60s.
James Bud Ward
Diversity was virtually nonexistent in American executive suites when James Bud Ward began his career in the 1950s. But he knew from his own experience it was sorely needed. Despite graduating from Cornell Universitys prestigious hotel management school as the schools first black graduate, no major hotel chain offered Ward a job. After he left a small hotel to become a diversity consultant, Ward received a call in 1966 from an old Cornell classmate then at Marriott. He asked Ward to study how the company was developing its minority workforce. Not so well, Ward found out, and he detailed his scathing findings to a room full of white Marriott executives. Two weeks after delivering his tough critique, Ward received a call to visit Bill Marriott himself, who offered him a job as the companys first black vice president (for industrial relations). Ward became one of the early pioneers to diversify top management of major American corporations, working for Marriott until retiring in 1985.
An organizational psychologist for J.C. Penney in the 1960s and founder of Development Dimensions International in 1970, William Byham conducted groundbreaking work in the use of assessment tools and behavior-based interview techniques that changed cor- porate hiring. With missionary zeal, Byham spread his belief among human resource professionals that making good hires was not a matter of intuition or luck but, rather, the result of what he called targeted selection. Applying analytical methodology to the selection process, he developed a process that focused on probing an applicants past behavior to determine if a candidates traits and abilities made them the best person for the job, and to pinpoint specific skills necessary for their success. The technologies Byham pioneered, including assessment center methods, behavior-based interviewing, behavioral job analysis methodology, results-based employee and management training, and succession management, have had a significant impact on employers hiring and training practices.
Our employees are our greatest asset. While many CEOs give lip service to that mantra, Herb Kelleher has lived and breathed it. As co-founder, president and CEO of Southwest Airlines since 1971, and later as executive chairman, Kelleher has built and sustained this airline based on the belief that if you treat your employees right, your employees will treat your customers right. Kelleher must be right. While the airline industry buckles under the weight of higher fuel prices, stiff competition from upstart airlines and the aftermath of Sept. 11, Southwest has recorded a profit 32 years in a row. It consistently ranks high on customer satisfaction ratings and on Fortunes Great Place to Work and Most Admired Companies lists. What does Southwest have that others cant seem to emulate? Kelleher says while other companies can duplicate Southwests processes and operations strategies, they cant duplicate its people. Southwest has a rigorous hiring process that selects only the people who will fit its culture. Kelleher demands high productivity from his employees, but he also shows his appreciation through profit-sharing plans, higher-than-market pay, a no-layoff policy and extensive training.
The U.S. Supreme Courts 1971 landmark decision in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. first described the concept of disparate impact discrimination in employment. Willie Griggs, a black man, filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of himself and several other employees, charging that Duke Powers internal promotion policy discriminated against blacks. The company required a minimum score on two aptitude tests and a high school diploma for all but its lowest-paying jobs. On appeal, the court ruled that the testing requirement prevented a disproportionately high number of blacks from being hired by the company and from advancing into the companys better-paying jobs. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the court ruled, proscribes not only overt discrimination but also practices that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation.
In 1972, the American Society for Personnel Administration (ASPA, now the Society for Human Resource Management) appointed Gordon R. Scott, vice president of personnel for Fisher Scientific Co. in Pittsburgh, to chair a task force on establishing a program to certify HR practitioners. Under Scotts leadership, the group completed its mission in less than nine months and recommended that ASPA develop and support a certification program. The ASPA board of directors formally adopted the task-force recommendations in 1973, and the certification program was born. The ASPA Accreditation Institutethe precursor to todays Human Resource Certification Institutewas formed in 1976, with Scott serving as president. During its first year, the institute certified about 2,100 professionals who met specific qualifications and tested another 300 HR practitioners. But growth of the program was slow, and by 1978 only 753 people had sat for certification examscompared with 19,539 who registered for exams in 2004. Scott died in the mid-1980s and never saw the original professional designations evolve into the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) in 1988. A third designation, Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), was added in 2004. Today, nearly 20,000 practitioners register every year to take certification exams and more than 80,000 HR professionals are certified.
Recognized internationally as the father of human capital benchmarking, Jac Fitz-enz conducted seminal research throughout the 1970s on measuring the bottom-line effect of employee performance. His groundbreaking work on human resource measurementincluding a landmark study of the connection between service, quality and productivitylaid the foundation for the science of human capital assessment and analysis. To date, an estimated 90 percent of the Fortune 100 companies have applied the benchmarking system he developed. In 1977, Fitz-enz founded the Saratoga Institute in Santa Clara, Calif., after holding human resource positions at several major technology and financial services companies. The institute became a leading resource for HR professionals in the areas of employee productivity, effective practices in human capital management and retention, and customer satisfaction. Fitz-enz has written seven books on human capital management and remains an authority on improving business performance and shareholder value by harnessing human capital.
Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn
Widely regarded as the fathers of the Internet, Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn could not possibly have imagined in the 1970s and 80s all the applications their work for the U.S. Defense Departments Advanced Research Projects Agency would lead to. They played key roles in the development of Internet-related data and security technologies, making it possible to develop a global networkaccessible from virtually any computerthat allowed computers to exchange data with each other. The technology they collaborated on evolved into the Internet, which spawned workplace applications such as e-mail, intranets, employee self-service, online recruiting, e-learning and telework. Employers and government regulators are continuing to grapple with fallout from the technology, including privacy issues, workplace policies about personal use of the Internet on work time and concerns about online security. Cerf recently left MCI to join Google, while Kahn is CEO of the Coalition for National Research Initiatives, which he founded in 1986.
HR practitioners, providers and government regulators who specialize in health and retirement benefits often have questions about the status quo and trends on the horizon. Dallas Salisbury has answers. Salisbury is president and CEO of a nonpartisan Washington, D.C., organization that does not lobby, but monitors benefits programs and the influences that are shaping the future of health and retirement benefits. The Employee Benefit Research Institute has become one of the best-known think tanks, and Salisbury, who joined it at its creation in 1978 after stints at several government agencies, is its voice. He is often heard on radio ads for its Choose to Save educational campaign. Reflecting a concern often expressed by benefits specialists, Salisbury says many workers are financially ill-prepared for their future. Many are spending beyond their means and ignoring employer-sponsored retirement plans, he told a congressional panel earlier this year. We feel the greatest shame is that these actions are often done out of simple ignorance.
The father of the 401(k), Ted Benna wasnt the only benefits specialist to raise an eyebrow at paragraph k of Section 401 of the Revenue Act of 1978. Others also noted the clarification for tax treatment of year-end profit-sharing bonuses and saw its potential application for deferring regular compensation. But Benna was the first to create a new form of pension plan at his Philadelphia-area consulting firm on Jan. 1, 1981. He then explained his plan to a Treasury Department bureaucrat, and was gratified when proposed rules released Nov. 10, 1981, ratified his interpretation and permitted both employees to defer compensation tax-free and employers to make tax-free matching contributions to retirement accounts. Benna also helped popularize the new savings plans as they grew to $3.8 trillion in assets by 2004. But Benna was ever mindful that his offspring was not perfect and must evolve. A frequent speaker and media source, he has continued to propose and support tweaks to the systems rules and recommended practices, including greater access to investment advice for participants and ways to minimize administrative costs.
Since writing (with Bob Waterman) In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best-Run Companies in 1982, Tom Peters has become one of the nations best-known business consultants. Peters numerous books, lectures and web pages ricochet with bullet points, notably the Eight Attributes Of Management Excellence: A Bias for Action; Close to the Customer; Autonomy and Entrepreneurship; Productivity Through People; Hands-On, value-Driven; Stick to the Knitting; Simple Form, Lean Staff; and Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties. Through more than a dozen books and decades of tireless speech-making, Peters precepts have never stopped selling. Amazon.com lists anything by Tom Peters among its Books That Managers Force Their Employees To Read. Fortune magazine observed, We live in a Tom Peters world. The Washington Post concluded, Peters is passionate, egotistical, evangelical, outrageous and often maddeningly simplistic [and] most of the time hes right.
University of Michigan management professor Noel Tichy calls Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, one of the two greatest corporate leaders of this century (the other: Alfred Sloan of General Motors). The quintessential CEO, Welch was a charismatic, demanding, no-nonsense executive who was called Neutron Jack for ordering extensive layoffs early in his tenure. He later championed the practice of forced ranking to regularly identifyand purgethe bottom 10 percent of the workforce. Yet, he was admired for his dedication to managers career development, spending much of his time teaching at company seminars, reviewing thousands of performance appraisals, and sending frequent handwritten notes to managers and their families. Welch helped groom much of the talent now running other corporations, such as CEOs James McNerney Jr. at Boeing and Robert Nardelli at Home Depot. In his 2005 book, Winning, Welch urges organizations to elevate HR to a position of power and primacy, and addresses numerous HR-related topics such as achieving work/life balance and motivating the middle 70 percent of the workforce.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield
Friends since the seventh grade, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield teamed up in 1978 to create a company that made a difference in addition to profits. The Vermont-based ice cream company has used novel flavors and packaging to publicize a variety of social and environmental issues such as nuclear power, global warming, rain forests and genetically engineered hormones in dairy products. It also has put its money where its mouth is, annually donating significant percentages of pretax profits to hundreds of charitable causes and nonprofit organizations selected by employee teams. The quirky entrepreneurs attracted like-minded employees with goofy promotional activities and their credo: If its not fun, why do it? Ben & Jerrys had net sales in the hundreds of millions when, in 2000, it became part of the Unilever conglomerate. Since then, employee morale has slipped from job cuts, but the companys annual reports have continued to evaluate achievement on social and environmental goals, including assessments by an external auditor.
After being let go from her job, Mechelle Vinson sued her employer, Meritor Savings Bank, arguing that her bosss unwanted sexual advances had created a hostile working environment that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. While the lower court disagreed, an appeals court and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court, agreed in its 1986 decision in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. For the first time, the high court addressed the idea that Title VII applied not just to quid pro quo sexual extortion but also to the subjective concept of a hostile or abusive workplace. The courts ruling definitively opened up new legal avenues for victims of sexual harassment. While Vinson eventually resolved her case out of court, the Supreme Courts ruling shone a national spotlight on the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace and led to widespread workplace training on how to walk the tightrope of acceptable and unacceptable behavior between the sexes.
Dilbert, one of the most successful syndicated comic strips in history, documents the universal frustration with dumb bosses, management fads and inept colleagues in the place where workers spend most of their waking hours. Engineer Scott Adams started using Dilbert doodles in business presentations and launched a comic strip in 1986. After publishing his e-mail address in 1993, Adams was flooded with feedback from fans, many of whom urged him to concentrate on Dilberts workplace full of cubicle farms, incompetence and self-important management boobs. Adams had struck a chord, and his strip now appears in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries. Many of those strips are tacked to bulletin boards in every workplacealong with Dilbert dolls, mugs and calendarsserving as constant reminders of the daily skirmishes faced by HR and the reasons that too many workers become jaded and disengaged.
The amiable founder of PeopleSoft revolutionized HR technology and, in doing so, HR itself. In 1987, Dave Duffield, who had previously started and run two mainframe application software companies, took a risk on client/server software that would phase out mainframes and allow HR professionals to perform workforce management tasks at their desktops and then later via the Internet. Suddenly employee self-service was born, and HR could devote more attention to playing a strategic role. Over the next 16 years, PeopleSoft exploded into a company of 12,000 employees with annual revenue near $3 billion, while maintaining its unique fun culture with bring-your-pet-to-work days, marching bands through the halls, casual attire and an accessible CEO. In 1999, Duffield stepped down as CEO but remained chairman of the board. However, when Oracle Corp. embarked on a protracted, hostile takeover bid in 2003, Duffields number was called again as the perfect leader to smooth over tense relations and instill confidence among employees, shareholders and customers. He oversaw a quick resolution to the merger and dug deep into his pockets to create a $10 million fund for laid off PeopleSoft employees.
As the founder and president of the National Workrights Institute, Lewis Maltby has devoted his career to the subject of workplace rights of employees through education, legislation, litigation and arbitration. Working on several fronts, the institute has addressed issues such as employers efforts to exert control over employees off-duty behavior, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, electronic monitoring on the job, the use of genetic information by employers, employee drug testing and right-to-work laws. Maltby was a private-sector executive and vice president of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) when he left the corporate world in 1988 to become director of the ACLUs National Workplace Rights Office. The National Workrights Institute spun off from the ACLU in 2000 as an independent nonprofit organization.
Work/life balance is a familiar concept within HR largely because experts such as Ellen Galinsky have been researching and pressing the cause for decades. Galinskys pioneering efforts on how work and family intersect began as a faculty member of Bank Street College of Education, where she spent 25 years establishing the field of work and family life. She left academe in 1989 to co-found the New York-based Families and Work Institute, a research organization where she is now president. Galinsky tells employers why and how they should retain valuable workers overwhelmed by work and family demands. She tells women who put careers on hold for family-rearing reasons to keep their ties with their former employers, stay in the loop with former colleagues, offer to help on special projects and keep current in their fields. If you havent seen Galinsky at a conference or read her 1999 book, Ask the Children, stay tuned: Shes often on TV news and talk shows.
Justin Dart Jr.
Justin Dart Jr., who used a wheelchair after contracting polio in 1948 when he was 18, became a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. Appointed by President Reagan in 1981 as vice chair of what is now the National Council on Disability, Dart was the driving force in drafting a policy calling for civil rights legislation to end discrimination against people with disabilities. In 1988, he was appointed co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities. Dart and his wife toured the country at their own expense, holding public forums and promoting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bill. In 1989, he was appointed chair of the Presidents Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, enlarging its focus from urging business to hire the handicapped to advocating for full civil rights for the disabled. The ADA was signed into law by the first President Bush in 1990, becoming what Dart later called a landmark commandment of fundamental human morality. It is the worlds first declaration of equality for people with disabilities by any nation. Dart died in 2002.
In 1991, University of Oklahoma law professor Anita F. Hill brought sexual harassment law to public attention when she testified at Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Hill alleged that Thomas had harassed her when she worked for him at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ame- ricans were riveted to the contentious televised hearings, and the fact that both Hill and Thomas were black while all members of the Senate committee were white males brought entrenched attitudes about race and gender to the forefront. After the Senate confirmed Thomas in a 52-48 vote, the highly publicized proceedings continued to generate long-term consequences. Sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC more than doubled from 6,883 in fiscal year 1991 to 14,420 by 1994, hitting a peak of 15,889 in 1997. (They totaled 13,136 in fiscal year 2004.) The hearings sparked a nationwide awareness and debate about the nature of sexual harassment in the workplace and led many companies to reconsider their sexual harassment policies.
Graef Crystal is a longtime monitor and critic of bloated executive pay packages and the clubby boards of directors that approve them. Now a columnist for Bloomberg business news, he pulls no punches in his criticism of compensation packages that exempt CEOs from the pay-for-performance mantra mandated for their workers. His 1991 book, In Search of Excess: The Overcompensation of American Executives, described the modern American CEO as a cross between a pharaoh and Louis the XIV. Since then, the average pay for major-company CEOs has risen from 140 times the average pay of their workers to a multiple of 500, providing Crystal with plenty of unclothed emperors to expose. While he routinely finds little correlation between CEOs compensation and their companies financial performance, Crystal does praise some Caesars who earn their keep, including Duke Energys Paul Anderson and Cognexs Bob Shillman.
While a trickle of companies began offering health care benefits to same-sex domestic partners in the 1980s, Lotus Development Corp. became the first publicly traded company to do so in 1992. Convinced it was the right thing to do, HR executive Russell Campanello built the business case for the policy and persuaded the company to adopt it. At the end of 2004, 8,250 private, government and educational employers offered domestic partner benefits, with 95 percent of them including same-sex couples, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Campanello is now senior vice president of HR at the Boston-based Keane consulting firm, and Lotus is now a part of IBM. As society and politics evolve, however, many companies have required or are considering requiring that domestic partners marry to receive benefits if they live in states, such as Massachusetts, that allow gay marriage.
Whether you love it or hate it or love to hate it, theres no denying the effect the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) had on human resource management. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., twice led congressional passage of leave bills that were vetoed by the first President Bush. He finally succeeded when the first law signed by President Clinton, in 1993, guaranteed eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family and medical obligations. But critics complain that congressional intent was distorted and complicated by compliance regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Labor, citing broad definitions of serious medical condition, confus-ing employer notice provisions and allowance for FMLA leave in incre-ments as little as six minutes. A cottage industry developed to handle FMLA administration, and FMLA questions consistently rank second among requests to the Society for Human Resource Managements (SHRM) Infor- mation Center. While SHRM and others have called for reform and clarification, Dodd and other supporters consistently push for expansions of coverage to more employers and for additional leave protections, such as for parent-teacher meetings.
Engineers have a reputation for being methodical and efficient. So, it should come as little surprise that it would take an engineer to revolutionize management processes in the 1990s. Thats what happened when Michael Hammer published Reengineering the Corporation in 1993, co-authored with James Champy. The manifesto unleashed a revolution in restructuring the operational nuts and bolts of businesses and vaulted Hammer into the position of one of the most influential management thinkers of the decade. Hammer argued that technology and business were changing faster than corporations could adapt based on old ways of orienting jobs along tasks. The new work order would have to be realigned with organizational goals, empowering employees to make decisions and act according to business needs. This meant companies would have to start from scratch and redefine how work gets done. CEOs of corporations large and small drank from Hammers cup of wisdom. Some were successful; most were not. Hammer himself laments the use of layoffs in the name of re-engineering, saying his theories were misinterpreted. He has since published three more books on re- engineering business, a management fad that seems to have legs.
After college, Jeff Taylor landed a job as a contingency recruiter and later started his own recruitment advertising firm, Adion Inc., which specialized in human resource communications. Combining his expertise in employment with his love of technology, in 1994 Taylor launched the first online job boardindeed, one of the first Internet companies of any sortcalling it The Monster Board. A seminal event in the growth of the online recruiting business was the companys famous When I Grow Up ad, which aired during the 1999 Superbowl. Online job recruiting has since become an indispensable tool of employers and job seekers, fueling a $1.3 billion-a-year industry, according to Business Week.
Jim Collins 1994 book, Built to Last, and his 2001 book, Good to Great, have been fixtures on best seller lists since their publication. Built to Last was based on six years of research that identified and analyzed 18 large companies with unusual longevity and market domination. Each was compared to one of its leading competitors at all stages of life to examine how they overcame inevitable setbacks and prevailed. Good to Great explored a corollary question: How can a company without such a legacy boost its performance? Charting extensive data from companies that had recovered from mediocre performance, Good to Great found that a critical characteristic was that they chose the right people before deciding on strategy. Every one of those good-to-great companies first focused on who, Collins told a Society for Human Resource Management conference in 2004. Every question can be shifted from a what question to a who question. This is why what [HR professionals] do is so important.
Chainsaw Al Dunlap was a moniker this so-called cold-blooded capitalist wore like a badge of honor. He took Michael Hammers concept of re- engineering to an extremeslashing head counts and obliterating product lines, even profitable ones, to carve fat (and sometimes muscle) off expense sheets to temporarily boost stock values despite the long-term cost to the organization. As head of Scott Paper in the mid-1990s, he slashed 11,000 jobs, R&D budgets, plant improvements and company philanthropy. Wall Street cheered Dunlaps slash-and-burn tactics, and he quickly set up a sale to Kimberly-Clark, netting himself $100 million for 18 months work. The stock of Sunbeam Corp., his next target, jumped 59 percent on the announcement in 1996 that Dunlap had been hired to turn around the troubled company. Dunlap lived up to his reputation by cutting half of Sunbeams workforce and selling most of its product lines. But two years later, media accounts charged that Sunbeam was using short-term accounting gimmickry to inflate earnings reports and Dunlap found himself on the chopping block. In 2002, Dunlap paid a $500 million settlement to the Securities and Exchange Commission and $15 million to settle his share of a lawsuit filed by Sunbeam shareholders. His downfall is a cautionary tale that, while many downsizings are done for sound business reasons, that strategy can backfire badly.
As president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management from 1990 to 2000, Michael R. Losey, SPHR, led both the Society and the profession it represents to new heights in capabilities, accomplishments and prestige. Losey assumed leadership the year after the financially struggling American Society for Personnel Administration changed its name, and perhaps did more than anyone to prod the profession to embraceand deliver ona more strategic mission and an international perspective. During his tenure, the Societys membership nearly tripled to 150,000 (it now tops 200,000), it became a pioneer and leader among associations at using the Internet to serve members, and its lobbying activities helped shape countless laws and regulations. His business acumen and fiscal discipline restored the Society to financial health with no increases in annual dues. Loseys energetic representation and networkingexemplified by his two-year presidency of the worldwide umbrella organization for national HR associationshelped educate business executives about the increasing importance of their HR function.
Perhaps the best-known academic guru in the area of human resource management, Dave Ulrich is sought after by both business executives and HR professionals for his insights on how the HR function can contribute at the highest strategic level. The professor of business administration at the University of Michigan is a prolific author, popular conference speaker and frequent consultant to major corporations. Ulrichs books and lectures make a compelling case for building a value proposition that connects the dots between an organizations HR function and its employees, customers and shareholders.
Edward Lawler III
There is hardly a business-related topic that Edward E. Lawler III has not researched and written about. A professor, author, researcher and consultant, Lawler is perhaps best known as the founder and director of one of the nations leading management research organizations, the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern Californias Marshall School of Business. A leading authority in the fields of organizational development and organizational behavior, Lawler is lauded for recognizing early ondecades agothat HR practices must align with business operations. Publishing and teaching since 1963, Lawler has written or co-written more than 35 books and hundreds of articles in scholarly journals. A major contributor to the theory, research and practice of HR management, Lawler has raised more than $40 million for organizational research.
Jennifer Erickson was a 27-year-old pharmacy manager working for the Bartell Drug Co., a family-owned chain, when she filed a class-action lawsuit in July 2000 alleging that her employers health insurance coverage violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Ericksons lawsuit centered on the fact that although the company paid for all basic health care needs of male employees, female employees had to pay for contraceptives themselves. A federal court ruled in her favor in 2001, finding that Bartell discriminated against women by excluding prescription contraceptives from its employee health plan. Ericksons attorney was correct in predicting that the case would have a huge impact on health insurance coverage for working women. Today, 82 percent of HR professionals say their companies offer contraceptive coverage, according to the Society for Human Resource Managements 2005 Benefits Survey.
John C. Hendrickson, the regional attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) Chicago District Office, is on the front lines of the enforcement effort for federal civil rights laws in the workplace. Hendrickson has led litigation of several high-profile class-action lawsuits alleging racial and sexual discrimination against large employers such as Mitsubishi, Dial and Caterpillar, helping to enforce legal rights for thousands of workers. Hes earned a reputation as one of the agencys most effective and respected officials, and other members of the employment and labor bar cite the EEOCs Chicago office as perhaps its most effective and reasonable at enforcing federal civil rights laws.
Staying behind in the World Trade Center while urging other employees to vacate the building cost Alayne Gentul her life on Sept. 11, 2001. Gentul, senior VP and director of human resources for Fiduciary Trust International, was one of many HR professionals who faced the ultimate challenge that day, and who went above and beyond the call of duty by placing the welfare of their companys employees before their own. Co-workers who survived estimate that she helped about 40 staffers to safety that day. Gentuls husband says she had a sense of duty and felt an obligation to her family of co- workers and employees. Sound familiar? HR professionals the world over are driven by their dedication and compassion. Most HR professionals will thankfully never face such a dramatic or catastrophic eventbe it man-made or a natural disaster. But many have and others will, and countless workers and their employers will benefit from the courage and sacrifice demonstrated during those challenges.
Enron founder and CEO Kenneth Lay will go down in history as a key player in an era of ethical lapses that led to spectacular corporate scandals. Enrons stunning growth in the energy industry was followed in 2001 by an equally stunning descent into bankruptcy and disgrace for its top executives. Lay, who has a doctorate in economics, claimed not to have known about the financial shenanigans at his company that artificially inflated its earnings and stock price. While Enron executives reaped millions, the companys stock price collapse cost nearly 20,000 employees an estimated $1 billion in their pension accounts. One Enron executive committed suicide, 21 have been convicted of various crimes, and 11 are awaiting extradition or trial. Lay and his protg and one-time CEO Jeffrey Skilling are scheduled to be tried in January on criminal charges. The Enron debacle and other scandals at WorldCom and Arthur Andersen prompted Congress to pass the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, imposing stringent new requirements on corporate governance and accounting practices.
Employers used to dealing with weak (or no) labor unions may find their lives changing if Andrew Stern gets his way. Stern is the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which claims to be the largest and fastest-growing union in North America. Stern helped lead last summers split from the AFL-CIO by the SEIU, the Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers, a total of 4.6 million defecting workers. We need to modernize, Stern told CNBC. We need to be able to speak with a single voice. Although Stern speaks of partnershipshe told CNBC that unions should be willing to get some of this health care and pension costs off individual employershe also envisions mega-unions with reach across entire industries. We are dealing with global employers, Stern told Time magazine. The answer to that is global unions.
Researched and written by Executive Editor Leon Rubis, Managing Editor Adrienne Fox, Senior Writers Ann Pomeroy and Bill Leonard, Associate Editors Terence F. Shea and Desda Moss, Copy Desk Chief Gretchen Kraft and freelance writer Stephenie Overman.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Your session has expired. Please log in again before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Join SHRM's exclusive peer-to-peer social network
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies