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Curses, Foiled Again…by SHRM

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Leanne ChaseI’ve been following the build up, the actual convention and the aftermath of the Society of Human Resources Management’s (SHRM) recent annual convention.  I’m a skeptic.  You see a professional association that makes its money on certifying practitioners so they are well equipped to prevent lawsuits and fines for those that hire them, but does not teach the skills to actually help solve HR problems in the workplace is not exactly my cup of tea.  SHRM is not known for being cutting edge or out-of-the-box thinkers.  But this year some of the usual naysayers were not naysaying as much.  So I got a little sucked in.

Forget that China Gorman, a great listener and thinker had recently left her COO post.  Forget the fact that I don’t believe any convention can serve the needs of 11,000 people well.  Forget the fact that I just don’t get why SHRM exists – except to dole out PHR (Professional in Human Resources) and SPHR (yep – you guessed it, Senior Professional in Human Resources) certifications.  I  forgot all those facts and got sucked in by the Monster crew, the SHRM blogging group, SHRM’s new Social Media guy and my friends in the biz who attended and tweeted and blogged and vlogged from the conference.  Until…

This tweet:

@SHRM Check out the new #SHRM10 blog posts on Lebron James and celebrity approach to the worklife balance

Seriously?!  SHRM’s having an actual conversation about work/life and blogging about it…excellent.  Cali Yost has been trying to get them to focus on and be advocates for work/life change in the corporate sphere for years.  And after last year’s SHRM conference where Jack Welch told the audience “There is no such thing as work/life balance” (for women) perhaps they learned a thing or two.


I clicked the link, then I started watching the videos.  And I was stunned.   As I’m not sure what celebrities are supposed to teach us about work/life realities.  Maybe SHRM was trying for the US Magazine slant “Celebrities they’re just like us?”  Yeah, right!

  • They have more people to do things than most can dream of.  Have a meeting but your kid gets sick at school?   They’ve got people.  Family coming to town and you need to clean your house & pick them up from the airport & put in a full day’s work?  They’ve got people.
  • They get paid a lot when they get paid…nope, they don’t have paid sick days…but I’m guessing it’s not a problem…they can just reschedule that show for a later date.  After all the promoter already has their fans money and has been holding it for a number of months.
  • They don’t work like most of us…regularly. They have spurts where they are super busy and then long stretches where they have down time.  It’s not a M-F 9 to 5 existence – which is part of why real work/life is such a struggle.  Those are the only hours to do things like go to the Dr, have the cable company come in, see a plumber without a weekend rate surcharge.  Oh and did I mention…these people have people to help with all that!

Dear SHRM, you just had 11,000 actual hard-working professionals in one place.  Some of them have childcare issues, some have elder care issues, some have passions for art, music, etc., some just want more time for themselves.  And they gathered in San Diego – having to arrange to be away from their responsibilities during the week of your conference.  They are juggling meetings virtually, checking in with babysitters, leaving lists for their spouses and co-workers to take on extra duties.  Why on earth did you not interview them?!  Then perhaps there could have had a real discussion about work/life with HR professionals from a personal and a professional perspective.   We may have even learned a few tips & tricks that we all could benefit from.

Truly SHRM, I am once again befuddled.  For two years running your conference has had a work/life angle…just not a very  insightful or useful one.


Leanne Chase is the founder of an online community focused on work-life balance and more flexibility in the workplace featuring “how to” articles, research reports, a discussion forum and job board that highlights flexible companies.  Leanne is an active blogger, speaker and thought leader in the HR and recruiting space.  Prior to founding CareerLifeConnection, Leanne was the Marketing and PR Manager at ZoomInfo where she produced expert speaker webinars, wrote & edited the monthly newsletter and pitched & produced speaking presentations for executives and clients at tradeshows and events.  Prior to that she worked in television on the 2002 winter Olympics, on Red Sox games and at the Sundance Film Festival.

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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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