Here’s What Transparency Group Wants Out of Oct. 5 Meeting With SHRM Board

From the HR blog at TLNT.
From the HR blog at TLNT.

The SHRM Members for Transparency group, in its latest update to members, has set their standard for what they feel will constitute success and progress from the long-awaited Oct. 5 meeting with members of the SHRM Board of Directors in Chicago.

And, it comes down to this: simply having a cordial discussion and agreeing to meet to talk again will simply not cut it.

Here’s how Transparency group Board member (and former HRCI chair) Kate Herbst put it in a Sept. 23 update to members:

It is important to note that we do not expect immediate acceptance of all SMFT recommendations, especially since the entire SHRM Board will not be present at the meeting, and it is unreasonable to assume that any decisions would be made without their input. It is our expectation, however, that the dialogue will be one of good faith, and that progress will be made toward meaningful change. While such change may ultimately require additional discussions, we will not feel that the meeting is successful if the prospect of an additional discussion is our only take-away (emphasis added).”

The issues that SMFT wants to discuss

As TLNT has previously reported, the SHRM Members for Transparency group — made up of a number of respected former SHRM Board members, executives, and current SHRM members who have expressed concerns about the incumbent SHRM Board’s seeming lack of transparency and refusal to stand up and publicly explain what it is doing – has been pushing for the better part of a year for a face-to-face meeting with the Board to discuss a number of Board policies and decisions that SMFT believe “are not in SHRM members best interests and, in some cases, were unknown to SHRM members.”

These issues include a lack of openness and transparency by the SHRM Board as it secretly voted to raise the annual salary for Board members and increase perks for Board travel.

Some of SHRM’s leadership, including current Board Chair Jose Berrios, and immediate past Chair Robb Van Cleave — reached out to leaders of the Transparency Group during SHRM’s annual conference in Las Vegas last June and said that a group of Board members was willing to finally meet with the SMFT group. They would discuss various issues with SMFT in the hope that it would help to re-establish understanding and a more positive relationship.

Now that the Oct. 5 meeting is finally near, the Transparency Group has detailed the issues it not only wants to discuss, but that it wants to see some action on from the SHRM Board. Kate Herbst’s update to the SMFT group last week details this, too:

At the meeting, we will cover a variety of issues with which you are already familiar. Increased transparency of operation is our most critical, over-arching concern. We believe it is essential that the SHRM Board implements a more open and inclusive decision-making process, and that HR professionals – member stakeholders – have the ability to maintain an active voice in the professional Society to which they belong. Therefore, it is our goal to have a productive dialogue in which success is evidenced by recognition of the need for constructive changes in a number of priority areas, such as —

  • Board Compensation and Travel Policy;
  • Nomination and Election Processes;
  • Board composition and Board member qualifications;
  • CEO qualifications;
  • Dues Increase methodology;
  • Member access to Board minutes and other documentation;
  • A stronger, more visible link between SHRM’s strategic direction and how it directly benefits SHRM members.

These topics represent the main focus areas to be covered in our dialogue. For each one, we have supportive examples and documents which we will use to illustrate our rationale for change.”

Each group will have 4 members at the meeting

The issues that the Transparency Group wants the SHRM Board to address aren’t new, but the strong and forceful talk about what the SMFT believes must happen at the Oct. 5 meeting for it to be seen as a successful discussion, most certainly is.

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In other words, for the Transparency Group, finally getting to meet face-to-face with members of the SHRM Board will not be enough to satisfy them. Their take-away from the discussion in Chicago has to include the very real sense that “progress will be made toward meaningful change” on some of the issues that SMFT is bringing to the table.

Four members from each side will sit down on Oct. 5, during the SHRM Strategy Conference. SMFT will be represented by four Past SHRM Board Chairs:

  • David Hutchins, SPHR, CEBS, CCP and 2003-2004 Chair;
  • Wanda Lee, SPHR and 1990 Chair;
  • Kathy McKee, SPHR and 1991 Chair;
  • Kathleen McComber, SPHR and 1998 Chair.

The SHRM Board will be represented by four current members:

The Transparency group seems to be making every effort to be prepped and ready for this long awaited meeting, as Kate Herbst’s latest memo to SMFT made very clear:

Shortly before the (Oct. 5) meeting, we will send the SHRM representatives an agenda for the meeting, as well as a summary of our positions on the above topics, so that they may familiarize themselves with the topics in advance. This will allow the meeting time to be devoted entirely to dialogue. During the meeting, we will ask clarifying questions and present our recommendations for constructive change in each of the topic areas…

After the meeting, we will update you at the earliest opportunity so that you can be fully aware of what transpired at the meeting and understand our preliminary plans going forward.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


2 Comments on “Here’s What Transparency Group Wants Out of Oct. 5 Meeting With SHRM Board

  1. Thank you SMFT.  I for one am not renewing my membership or sending any money to SHRM until some changes are made.  Especially after seeing some of the outrageous salaries these people are making.  It made me sick to my stomach.  They are extremely overpaid at the expense of HR departments’ limited funds.  Too many of the services that should be included in the membership fee are pay-to-play.  What’s the value of joining if there are so many additional costs to participate?

  2. I forgot to mention how much of the U.S. membership fees are sent to international chapters. It’s an outrageously high percentage.  Membership fees should benefit the members.  Instead, SHRM uses the money to promote itself (and solicit more members and fees) in Europe and Asia.  

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