Why You Should STFU About SHRM

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  If you want to be critical of SHRM, if you want to talk at length of how many things they get wrong, but you are not willing to pitch in and make it better?  STFU.

There has been a long standing and well documented amount of indifference, disdain and sometimes anger at the governing body of Human Resources.  They don’t do enough, they do too much, they aren’t listening, they listen to too many people, they can’t make decisions, they make the wrong decisions…essentially all the complaints you hear about large organizations, right or wrong.  But there is criticism aplenty, and much of it probably deserved.

What’s interesting, though, is that much of this criticism comes from those who are no longer members and/or no longer practitioners.  And rarely comes with a side of “maybe they should try this idea instead.”  And sometimes, just sometimes, those same critics will attend a state SHRM event or the big annual event, take the free pass, and consider the conference lucky to have them.  I’m not saying they have nothing to contribute.  In fact, I think they are some of our best and brightest minds, and could make a huge impact if they were actively engaged.  But for reasons too numerous to list, they are not.

I’d hesitate to say that I’ve been active with SHRM, though I keep my membership up, maintain my SPHR and speak at a lot of SHRM events, both state and regional.  When I go, though, I try to add a little value.  I try to hit the Twitter channel, write a post or two, work the social media desk to tutor attendees, speak or help with some kind of charity event.  There are a lot of ways to contribute, and I try to hit at least a couple of channels.  But I’ve been woefully inactive at the local level, and recently attended my first HRMA STL meeting.  Ever.

But there are those in our community who bust their hump to make a difference, and do so in their spare time.  I am regularly inspire by Steve Browne, a true HR leader/practitioner who puts in more hours that anyone would care to count with local, state and national SHRM.  He went and testified in front of Congress, and made us all proud.  He is one of the leaders who spoke up when SHRM lost their Social Media leader to make sure we didn’t lose ground.  He takes complaints from the masses and, believe it or not, shares it with the people who ARE ASKING FOR THAT FEEDBACK.  Crazy, right?  He takes responsibility to make the profession better, and he inspires me to be better.  He’s not the only one, of course, but there are far too many names to list.  (More on that in future posts, I promise.)

So this week, I was asked and agreed to take the role of Social Media Director for Missouri SHRM.  When I was offered the role, I didn’t know what all I would need to do or how much time it would require, but I knew that it was a chance to help out, spread the message of the state SHRM team and connect with more practitioners in my home state.  And a light bulb went off.  If I wasn’t willing to step up and be part of making things better, why should I expect others to do so?

So I’m taking the job.  And hopefully, I’ll be able to contribute something in the process.

If you are a naysayer, a critic, or a conscientious objector, I’d challenge you to get involved to make SHRM better as an organization.  Work at the local level, the state level, the national level, or any combination of those.  There is an entire profession waiting for help that needs your input, that needs you voice, that needs your energy.  You can choose to do as little or as much as you can handle, but it is only through those contributions that we can shape our community and make it better than it is today.  That’s the challenge.  That’s the opportunity.  That’s your chance to change the world.

And if not, STFU.  The rest of us have work to do.


Adria Richards, Steubenville and Privacy

**Dangerous waters ahead.  This is a post for rational thinkers and observers, not those who react simply on emotion or reflex.  You have been warned.**

You’ve surely read both stories by now.  If not, here’s the quick recap:

Richards: Goes to conference, takes some pictures, tweets about being offended, gets all involved fired.

Steubenville: Football players party, rape drunk girl, tweets about it, get jail time.

There are links if you want to read more.  Or, you know, Google.

So to me these are both kind of the same issue.  Privacy.  Yes, of course there are bigger items at play, namely harassment and rape, respectively.  But I think it’s safe to say we are all against both of those things.  I hope, anyway.  And yes, there are questions about the details in both cases.  But we move past that for discussion purposes.

There are significant privacy issues in both cases, and it seems that they are being taken from opposite directions by many.  In the Steubenville case, the public is generally appalled at the photos of an unconscious girl being circulated by these young men, and an extra year was added to his term for it.  Assault aside, it was an invasion of her privacy that warranted additional punishment.  And that feels right to most, at least judging by public response.

Richards posted pictures of two men who were sitting behind her making jokes at a conference.  Again, taking the story at face value, she was offended by their remarks, and chose to tweet out their pictures with her displeasure.  One of the men and Richards have been fired over the incident.  And once again the public is appalled, only this time it is much more divided as to for whom.  (It should be noted that Richards’ job is as a technology evangelist, so her company determined she would no longer be able to function effectively in that role.)

Many have cried foul over her dismissal, as she was calling out harassment, at least in her eyes.  Others are angry that the men in the picture were fired because of her tweet.  I find it interesting that there are far fewer people, though, that are referring to these men as “victims.”  They were, by all accounts, engaged in private conversation, and their picture was taken under circumstances that do not include anyone saying, “I’d like to post you on Twitter and complain about your sexist jokes.”

Why is the invasion of their privacy less offensive to us than the Steubenville victim?  From an intellectual standpoint they are very similar.  Their picture were shared without their full consent, and included derogatory content that will effect their life in a significant way.  Yes, there is an emotional element at play, and the damage isn’t on the same level.  But then, getting fired and going to jail aren’t either, so the level of punishment is in line with the crime, I think.

We live in a world where privacy is at a premium.  Your pictures are online, and you may or may not be getting tagged in them.  In fact, getting tagged may be the only way you find out!  Are we OK with that level of access?  Do we not have the right to know when our images or stories are being shared?  Why is it OK, under any circumstances, for someone to take our picture and complain about a private conversation  activity or belief without our permission?  And should anyone, on either side of the transaction, lose their job over it?

I’m interested to know if there are those who are fully behind Richards and are outraged at her firing who are also pleased to see the young man in Steubenville getting extra jail time.  To me they are very similar, and if you support one, you should logically support both.  People aren’t great at separating emotion from this kind of issue, so if you have a response, please try to keep it on the logical plane of discussion.

The Forgotten Platforms

Combing through my email each morning, I am regularly greeted by LinkedIn Groups messages, bringing me up to speed on the conversations that have taken place over the last day or two.  I like being able to keep up with several groups this way, and see what is happening that may be relevant to my world.  I’ve noticed, though, that there is an ever-increasing amount of noise in these groups that has little or nothing to do with the topic…

You can read the rest over at the Dovetail Software Blog.  Come visit us!

Live at ILSHRM11!


In case you hadn’t noticed, the fall conference season is underway.  I’m in Oakbrook Terrace, IL for the next two days as part of IL SHRM 11, and will be checking in throughout the day.  Catch the live updates by following me on Twitter. I’ll be back later with some summaries as well.

And if you happen to be in Oakbrook Terrace today or tomorrow, stop me in the hall and say hello!

Book Review – Tweet This!

Tweet This! could have been a great primer on how to start using Twitter. It could have been an introduction to Twitter for business. It could have been a handy guide to the auxiliary tools that are available to Twitter users, business or personal. Instead, it is all three.

The text covers the entry level information, Twitter 101 if you will. How to find it, how to sign up, how to tweet, etc. It also give an introduction to the business side of Twitter, including companies to emulate, managing multiple user accounts, and even touching on some of the legal aspects of the tool.

There is also a wealth of information regarding third party Twitter applications, such as SocialOomph and TweetDeck. These tools enhance your experience and ease of use, while cost little or nothing to use. The author has clearly spent the time to find the best of the myriad of options and present them here to shorten the learning curve for new users.

Finally, the text includes reference materials for creating your personal (or personal business) social media brand, which will help you use the tools and tips that have been so elegantly presented. This final tool pulls the rest of the information together, producing a final product that is complete, informative, easy to navigate and worthy of a spot on your business bookshelf.

This is a great text to have at hand when you are starting your own brand, helping explain Twitter to someone, or just looking for more effective ways to use the tools available to grow your brand.

Jessica Miller-Merrell can be found on Twitter as @blogging4jobs.  She is a wealth of information, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest you follow her.

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