Emily M. Dickens, J.D.

Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary for SHRM

Emily M. Dickens is Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs, and Corporate Secretary for SHRM. An executive team member, Dickens is responsible for implementing the CEO's vision, corporate communications, corporate governance, global policy, government affairs, and the organization's real property.

As the Head of Government Affairs for the world’s largest human resources trade association, Emily M. Dickens leads SHRM’s advocacy and policy initiatives. This includes its Advocacy Team — the “A-Team” —composed of nearly 30,000 HR professionals across the United States positioned front and center in efforts to advance the interests of the HR profession. She oversees government affairs, global policy, legal affairs, and the SHRM Foundation, the 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm of SHRM. Dickens has been a featured expert on workplace issues and business leadership – with commentary appearing in CBS News, NBC News, AP News, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg Law, Crain's Business, Marketplace, WTOP, Yahoo Finance, HR Brew, and HR Dive among others. In addition, Dickens has testified before Congress and the EEOC on worker and workplace topics like AI, gender bias, and paid leave.

Dickens serves on the boards of the following industry organizations to maximize SHRM's impact and voice in global, national, and local business and labor policy debates: B20 Brazil Women in Business Action Council (Co-Chair); USCIB-United States Council for International Business (Governance Committee); The Bryce Harlow Foundation; Skill-up, and the National Foundation for Women Legislators. 

Before SHRM, Dickens served as a passionate advocate for access to higher education as the general counsel/head of policy for the DC-based Thurgood Marshall College Fund; Vice President of Public Policy for the Association of Governing Boards for Colleges and Universities; and the Assistant Vice President for Federal Affairs at the University of North Carolina System. Dickens leverages her higher education background to promote the importance of leveraging the education-to-employment pipeline to address future workforce needs. She has also worked at Duke University and Fayetteville State University in administrative and external affairs roles.

Actively engaged in board service, Dickens is a member of the North Carolina Central University Board of Trustees and the NCNW Board of Directors (Co-Chair Personnel Committee). She is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated where she has served as Chairman of the International HBCU Task Force, and on the sorority’s Education Advancement Foundation Board (AKAEAF).

Emily is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and North Carolina Central University School of Law.


Workplaces That Work For All: Understanding Policy, Advocacy, and Inclusion

As we navigate the complex landscape of contemporary workplaces, it’s critical to understand the instrumental role that policy and advocacy play in shaping effective and sustainable work environments. Drawing connections between legislative developments on the Hill and their direct implications for your boardroom and beyond, this talk demystifies the often opaque realm of policy-making, offering practical insights into how you can align your organizational strategies with evolving societal frameworks.

Your audience will learn from and be inspired by Emily M. Dickens, Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary for SHRM, as she shares compelling personal stories that underscore the transformative impact of creating opportunities out of unforeseen circumstances—and highlight why fostering diversity and promoting equity are strategic imperatives that drive organizational effectiveness. This narrative sets the stage for a broader exploration of how inclusion can be cultivated among employees, leading to a thriving workplace culture that works for all.

Explore Other Keynote Topics

As long as we have a heartbeat, polarizing topics will continue to exist both inside and outside of the workplace, leading to pain and division among colleagues, leadership, and even customers. The question is not if we deal with conflict, but how we as people and as organizations will handle it when we inevitably do. The problem is, no one has led the discussion about how to guide today’s workforce to remain civil when discussing polarizing topics… until now. With extensive experience in navigating organization-wide conflict, and influence over 362 million workers worldwide, SHRM’s Executive Voices are uniquely positioned to help all of us nurture civility in the workplace.


No stranger to the ups and downs of a divided workplace, through Civility Starts at Work, SHRM executives explore the impact of civility on work culture, and provide an outline for equipping employees to have candid, civil dialogue while supporting the mental health of all employees. Walk away with a strategic roadmap for facing the storm of conflict, gain insight on just how to measure and quantify people and strategy, and put your audience on a path to inspiring a more civil world.

In an era where the digital economy has given rise to new measures of global expansion, many companies find themselves unprepared to harness the wealth of talent at their fingertips. When we open up our organizations to a world of candidates - literally - we often lack the research and training that is needed to bridge international differences and build connections across the globe. Through the message of Untapped Talent, SHRM executives provide key strategies on tapping into previously overlooked talent pools, ensuring your workforce possesses the skills needed for success.


Learn how a global workforce is defined and what steps must be taken to become one, while gaining the tools needed to juggle this unprecedented growth. SHRM’s Executive Voices take decades of combined experience in people management and global expansion to bring you best practices for talent acquisition and retention in this new era of unparalleled opportunities.