SHRM CEO Urges HR Pros to Dream Big

By SHRM Conference Today staff Jun 17, 2018
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CHICAGO—HR professionals must dream big and act courageously to build the future workforces their employers need, said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

"Our organizations need to attract the best people, wherever they are. They need to skill up their workers, whoever they are. And they need to be ready for the next industrial revolution, whenever it shows up," said Taylor, kicking off the SHRM 2018 Annual Conference & Exposition.

Taylor, who assumed the reins at SHRM last December, spoke before a record-breaking crowd of more than 17,000 HR and business professionals. But it wasn't the first time that he addressed the world's largest organization for HR professionals. He spoke to conference-goers as chair of the SHRM Board of Directors in 2005 and 2006.

Taylor acknowledged that the HR profession had taken a beating this past year with numerous reports of sexual harassment complaints that left many wondering "Where was HR?" But the good news, he said, is that CEOs are now turning to HR for answers and solutions, which they hadn't done in the past.

Taylor outlined three priorities for SHRM and its members:

"First, we must dream about building inclusive workplace cultures. On the horizon, I see a profession that has mastered culture, inclusion and diversity in our workplaces. We will decide what our culture is, who we hire for it, and how we live it," he said.

The notion of diversity will be broadened beyond race and gender to include older workers, people with disabilities, veterans, people with criminal histories, and others who have made mistakes and deserve second chances, he said.

Second, HR professionals must lead workforce readiness.

"We will focus on those people who aren't quite ready, who don't yet have the skills we need, and boost them up," he said. "We will explore educational partnerships, apprenticeships, internships and any number of innovative programs to fill our talent pipelines.

"We will provide younger people with learning and working experiences, and we will help the long-term unemployed and older returning workers rebuild their careers."

Third, he urged HR professionals to elevate the profession.

"Our profession deserves to attract the best and brightest students. ... We must care deeply about how we present ourselves in our work and in the world, in our appearance and in our actions. We must believe in ourselves so that others will have no choice but to believe in us as well.

"In short, we must set audacious goals for ourselves and our organizations and chase them courageously. And we must be ready to take some major risks," he said.

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