SHRM Members Take to Twitter to Condemn Taylor’s White House Photo Op

Editor’s Note: It’s an annual tradition for TLNT to count down the most popular posts of the previous 12 months. We’re reposting each of the top 30 articles through January 2nd. This is No. 30 of the 800 articles posted in 2018. You can find the complete list here.


What in years past would have been considered a benign ceremony at which SHRM signed on to a new White House training initiative, has turned into a Twitter contretemps over the symbolism of the HR organization’s participation.

“HR professionals supposedly stand up for individual worth and dignity. If we speak FOR people, shouldn’t we be AGAINST those who would degrade and demean so many?” tweeted Mary Faulkner, a SHRM member and HR director from Denver.

On #SHRMPress under a picture of a smiling SHRM CEO Johnny Taylor shaking President Trump’s hand, Kara Aley commented, “Did you ask him how employers are supposed to focus on diversity inclusion when he’s all about tearing down affirmative action and is pro white supremacy. As an HR leader from a large US employer I’d like to hear your response.”

The event was a White House photo op Thursday at which several business and organization executives, including SHRM’s Taylor, signed a Pledge to American Workers promising to train workers. SHRM promised to train 127,000 HR professionals through the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certification programs over the next five years.  It followed the signing by Trump of an executive order creating a National Council for the American Worker. The council comprised of senior administration officials is supposed to come up with a strategy for training and retraining the workers needed across high-demand industries.

Within hours of the event, the SHRM press office posted a note on Facebook and sent multiple tweets extolling the initiative and SHRM’s participation. By Friday morning, dozens of replies were showing up, nearly all of them condemning Taylor’s presence as a sign of agreement with all the Administration stands for.

Victorio Milian, an HR consultant with more than 10,000 Twitter followers, was among those who took some of the sharpest exception to SHRM’s involvement. Friday morning he tweeted, “In my opinion, this white supremacist Republican administration doesn’t care about or the thousands of pros out there. If SHRM’s CEO continues to align himself with this administration, then it’s safe to say that doesn’t care about us, either.”

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Not everyone objected to SHRM’s participation, though those supporting Taylor were few. Omari J. Faulkner tweeted, “Everything should NOT be taken out of context and morphed into a political weapon. Enough already! should not be attacked and expected to explain anything. .

Some also complained about SHRM’s training pledge. In a Facebook posting, Sara Neu wrote: “SHRM is part of the problem when it sells ridiculously expensive prep courses and expensive tests in order to get ahead. Make your exams and prep materials more accessible to people who aren’t already making a lot of money and then I’ll listen to what you have to say.”

SHRM’s press office was emailed asking for a response. I’ll update this post when I hear back.


John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


7 Comments on “SHRM Members Take to Twitter to Condemn Taylor’s White House Photo Op

  1. Mr. Zappe, I find it interesting that you quoted one particular Twitter user as an example. This reads like a quote from him rather than a use of his tweet. I assume you contacted him for permission?

  2. “I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong.” ~ Frederick Douglas.

    You may or may not care for Trump, but if you believe that his administration has a favorable inclination to laws and policy beneficial to advancing good HR practices, then perhaps you should open your mind and be more like Mr. Douglas.

  3. As one of the couple of dozen #SHRM18Bloggers, I am actively participating in a discussion in our Facebook group. A few are confusing support for the program with the handshake and big smiles between Taylor and Trump. But most recognize Taylor could have chosen to participate in the program without the photo op.

  4. I find it interesting that the quoted tweet from “HR Pro” Victorio Milian has received only a couple dozen likes out of his 10k followers. What is more important following party lines and regurgitating what the media feeds us, or encouraging hiring and training? If there is one thing I have learned in the past few years, if you want to lose credibility in pretty much any field just start spewing your political views out there. If you are an HR Pro talk about HR. Like him or loathe him, but the current POTUS knows more about business than most recent presidents and if he is offering help in the area of hiring and training…take it! As the adage goes, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

  5. The one thing I do have to commend Trump for is his consistency- he gets right in there and insults the other party almost before any discussion can begin. Other than that? Well… that.

    … He seems to be disgusted with all groups including most whites, other than his daughter, Ivanka and select others. Not equally disgusted, equality is NOT how opportunists get ahead? Right?

    Condemns expensive exams… yet sent children to elitist, costly schools. Knows this is contradictory, doesn’t care who noticed. Very very consistent.

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