From “The Forest City” to “The City of Brotherly Love,” SHRM was the Voice of HR at Both Presidential Conventions

By Mike Aitken Aug 5, 2016

With Congress in recess until after the Labor Day holiday, SHRM hit the ground running as the only human resources organization attending both the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions. Participation in the conventions help to elevate SHRM's brand, advance important HR public policy priorities and showcase SHRM as a thought leader on key workplace issues. What better forum, than the national conventions, to talk up SHRM's recently unveiled Principles for a 21st Century Workplace, which convey the importance of public-policy initiatives that create workplaces that are InnovativeFair and Competitive? 

The Republican National Convention (RNC) was gaveled in by RNC Head Reince Priebus on Monday, July 19. The four-day event featured countless speakers, culminating with the nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president. SHRM and Council for Global Immigration (CFGI) staff were on hand to participate in the convention, partnering with the Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP) group for several policy events. RMSP highlighted a variety of workplace issues as part of its Women2Women series, including the issue of workplace flexibility—a key component in SHRM's Principles for a 21st Century Workplace.

While in Cleveland, SHRM partnered with the Ohio SHRM State Council and Cleveland SHRM to engage over 100 SHRM members for a unique member event that featured CEO Hank Jackson and vice president of government affairs Mike Aitken, who discussed the importance of advocacy,  SHRM's Principles for a 21st Century Workplace and the outlook for workplace public policy issues in the next congress. In his remarks, Jackson informed the crowd that, "We are an authoritative voice on workplace issues in Washington, D.C., and beyond. Last year, Congress and federal agencies turned to SHRM for input more than 100 times." 

SHRM Board Member Steve Browne also joined the event, driving home the importance of advocacy by saying, "During this time of political uncertainty, it's needed more than ever. People share their voices and opinions with each other and on social media, but those have a limited reach. We are able to truly influence how the workplace is shaped if we step out past talking on forums and actually reaching our representatives." This event is available for viewing on SHRM's Facebook page. 

The following week SHRM traveled to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention (DNC). SHRM partnered with the Pennsylvania State Council of SHRM and the Garden State Council to again host SHRM members, with CEO Hank Jackson and VP of Government Affairs Mike Aitken. Check out a fantastic blog by SHRM member John Baldino highlighting his experience at the DNC 's SHRM member events. This event is also available for viewing on SHRM's Facebook page.

Jackson also participated on a dynamic Workforce in the New Economy: Third Way Panel with other business and education leaders from across the country. He explained the significant workforce challenges that employers are experiencing at all skill levels. Portions of the panel were livestreamed and can be found HERE. SHRM partnered on the panel with Third Way at the DNC.

Jackson revealed data from SHRM's latest report on recruiting difficulty and skills shortages, The New Talent Landscape. According to the results, over two-thirds—or 68 percent—of HR professionals reported having difficulty hiring talent this year. In 2013, 50 percent of those surveyed reported hiring challenges.

Also participating with Jackson on the panel was Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR), pictured above with Hank Jackson, along with Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer for Microsoft; Nneka Jenkins Thomas, senior manager for education policy with New America; and Tony West, executive vice president of PepsiCo. , Panelists also discussed effective employer practices for addressing the skills shortage.  SHRM appreciated Sen. Warner's and Congressman Schrader's participation, the latter recently having introduced legislation supported by SHRM that would phase-in the implementation of the final DOL overtime rule and eliminate the automatic salary adjustments, scheduled to take effect on December 1 of this year.

Finally, through SHRM's 2016 National Visibility Campaign, media partners showcased SHRM's commercial during the conventions and will continue to do so throughout the 2016 election cycle. SHRM members participated in events by media partner CNN, including a commentary panel by CNN's Dana Bash, Donna Brazile and Amanda Carpenter that focused on challenges and strengths each candidate is facing heading into the general election. 

Throughout both conventions, SHRM and CFGI provided real-time coverage via the SHRM and CFGI websites as well as a variety of HR News articles and blog posts, many of which featured the SHRM member experience at the convention.

Now that the convention process for both parties has come to an end, it's imperative that SHRM and CFGI members continue to be involved in the public policy process through SHRM's Policy Action Center. The Policy Action Center provides important resources regarding voting information, presidential candidate platforms and SHRM's position on a variety of workplace issues. 


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