Saying Meetings Futile, SHRM Transparency Group Issues Survey

May 21, 2012
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

An insurgent group of former SHRM leaders and current members has declared that attempting to resolve differences with the current SHRM board in face-to-face meetings is futile, and is asking for help in deciding next steps.

In an email sent Sunday, the SHRM Members For Transparency said “it has become apparent — as many of you suggested it would — that continuing to meet is unlikely to be a successful means to achieving our goals.”

At this point, says the unsigned email, “We are reaching out to you now because we need your feedback to help determine SMFT’s future direction.” Encouraging the members and the SHRM regional, state, and local leaders who also were sent the email to complete a questionnaire, SMFT says, “your responses are critical and will guide us in identifying our next steps.  In many ways, your feedback may determine the future of SHRM.”

Timed to coincide with SHRM’s annual conference coming up the end of June in Atlanta, the SMFT group says the results will be made public before then.

How the survey results will be used by SMFT isn’t explained; however, the email says that after the last meeting with SHRM board representatives, the organization “will continue to use other avenues to vigorously pursue positive change in Board practices.’

The email doesn’t say what transpired at that March 4 meeting, between three SHRM Board members and CEO Hank Jackson, and two SMFT representatives. But it does point to a position paper on the group’s site, which says of the meeting, “the Board was not receptive to seriously alleviating our greatest concerns – the Board compensation and premium-class travel benefit.”

The SMFT group formed two years ago in reaction to a growing schism between some of SHRM’s most prominent members and its board. (TLNT has been covering this issue in detail since the group was formed.) Among the issues raised by SMFT has been the board’s quiet decision to award itself a salary and premium travel perks, the hiring of a CEO with no direct HR experience, and the multi-million dollar expansion of the organization into China and India.

It took almost a year for the SHRM board to agree to meet with SMFT; and five months for a second meeting. In recounting its view of the last meeting, the SMFT position paper says:

In conclusion, very few changes resulted from the two meetings. It is important to note that, prior to scheduling the second meeting, the SHRM Board Chair wanted to withdraw the agreement to meet a second time. Only after we protested was the second meeting finally scheduled.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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