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​The workplace has evolved dramatically since 1948, the year SHRM was founded in Ohio as the American Society for Personnel Administration. However, one aspect of HR that hasn’t changed in the 75 years since then is practitioners’ dedicated focus on complying with federal, state and local employment laws.

With the passage of each new law—from the National Labor Relations Act and the Equal Pay Act to the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and many others—HR professionals have taken on the important job of understanding and applying legislative mandates. Many dedicated practitioners also strive to learn all they can in an effort to treat their employees with respect and dignity while protecting their employers from legal harm. SHRM has been there at every step, providing resources, training, events, content and more to assist in those efforts.

As we embark on the next 75 years, new challenges are emerging to test the expertise and courage of HR professionals. In fact, the state of the workplace likely will become more unpredictable each year, with artificial intelligence and virtual reality already in use at many innovative companies. In addition, senior HR executives are expanding their reach around all things work, which now includes overseeing situations in which global employees interact with headquarters staff and remote workers 24/7 while pursuing a completely inclusive environment. 

No one knows what will come next, but, as historians tell us, it’s important to learn from our past so that we make smarter decisions in the future. With that in mind, we offer overviews of key areas and advancements within HR and highlight the people who were instrumental in bringing them to life.

The Evolution of HR and Compliance


Legal obligations for employers have multiplied. READ MORE

The Evolution of HR and Benefits


401(k)s, HSAs and employee choice have transformed the employee benefits landscape. READ MORE

The Evolution of HR and DE&I


Progress toward true equity in the workplace has been slow. READ MORE

The Evolution of HR and the Workforce


Rigid workplace rules are softening as younger generations gain influence. READ MORE

The Evolution of HR and Talent Acquisition ​​

Talent Acquisition

New tools have spurred a sea change in the hiring process. READ MORE

The Evolution of HR and Technology


Innovations in automation and AI have radically transformed HR’s role. READ MORE

The Evolution of HR and Labor Relations

Labor Relations

Union membership has fallen since the mid-1950s. READ MORE

The Evolution of HR and Safety


OSHA’s creation has spurred improvements, but violence poses a growing problem. READ MORE

In this episode of All Things Work, host Tony Lee speaks with SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, on the plans for commemorating SHRM's 75th anniversary, reflection on SHRM’s key accomplishments and his goals for the organization’s future.

How We Got Here: The 75-Year Evolution of SHRM and HR

How We Got Here: The 75-Year HISTORY of SHRM and HR

Now more than 320,000 members strong, the Society for Human Resource Management began in 1948 with a handful of dreamers—and a twist of fate. READ MORE

SHRM 75th


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