Inversity and Disclusion – an Outsider’s View of the SHRM/HRCI Malfunction

Disclaimer – I am not a member of SHRM, nor have I earned any of the certifications offered through HRCI. My observations have little to do with understanding the why, but I have a perspective – their customers did not come first.

I have encountered a number of talented, dedicated, and – most importantly – generous HR professionals in the last several years who are SHRM members and have varying degrees of accreditation. Through social media, some local networking, and HRevolution, I have been enriched by my relationships with these folks, and I have been impressed with their commitment to a career that is alternately praised and disregarded.

I have read quite a bit about the recent events involving SHRM and HRCI, and while not qualified to address this issue, I can point you to two well-informed articles. Sue Meisinger addresses it from her unique perspective as a long term SHRM employee and former leader, and Joyce Chastain, president of the HR Florida State Council, entered her disappointment here. Both are infinitely more qualified than I to understand the details.

So why am I weighing in at all?

As I watched my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn streams react to the announcement, what I saw was confusion. Will they both have certifications now? Will they be valued the same? Will I have to earn both to be considered a pro? Will I need twice the effort to get those certifications? Am I grandfathered in some way?

These, by the way, are the questions any employee asks when a surprising announcement comes out from the top. These are the reasons you build a solid, effective change management plan. You have customers – HR professionals who not only count on the current process but many of whom volunteer tirelessly in the name of SHRM – who were left with no effective change communications.

So, the organization that proposes to guide our profession failed miserably on a core competency. Isn’t this sort of ironic?

And, to further the issue, they did so because they could not effectively resolve a turf battle of some kind. They allowed differences to become a barrier to effective resolution. They built the wall (or the trench) and decided that I play here, and you play there. Though they are two organizations, they seemed to forget that their customers see them as a whole of sorts. This is what happens when labor relations breaks down in an organization, especially when the company and the union see themselves as two separate organizations, and fail to remember they have the same customer. I call this phenomenon “Inversity”. We no longer seek to understand, we follow the inward route.

A few years ago, I heard an executive slip-up and say “Inversity and Disclusion”. A spoonerism, to be sure. And one that fits here. These organizations chose to disclude one another. And they discluded their customers.

With the proposed addition of competencies as part of certification, I hope that SHRM becomes a model organization. Certifications in competencies need to come from organizations who demonstrate great practices themselves.

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