A group challenging the current policies of the SHRM Board of Directors is questioning whether the world’s largest HR organization is “stacking the deck” by expediting this year’s Board election — a charge that SHRM denies.
The group SHRM Members for Transparency (SMFT) — a group of respected former SHRM Board members, executives, and current SHRM members who have challenged the incumbent Society for Human Resource Management Board over a number of issues, including a lack of transparency and refusal to stand up and publicly explain what it is doing — announced in June that they were going to field (6) six candidates for seats on the SHRM Board of Directors in an attempt to change the Board’s actions from the inside.
Now, in an update to their membership titled “Stacking the Deck,” the Transparency Group questions whether SHRM has accelerated the Board election cycle, presumably to put the Transparency Group’s slate of write-in Board candidates at a greater disadvantage. SMFT says in its update that:
The election for the SHRM Board of Directors is usually held in September or October. Except this year, when the recent notice from Election Services Corporation implies it will be held in August…about two months earlier than last year.
Why would the SHRM Board decide to drastically expedite this year’s election?
Why are the SHRM Bylaws very vague about procedures for write-in candidates?
Why are all Voting Inspectors members of SHRM’s MAC?
We asked SHRM for clarification on write-in procedures for the election, so that we could be sure SMFT supporters followed the rules for writing in candidate names. SHRM has not responded.
Is this an acceptable way to run an election?”
SHRM denies any change in Board voting procedures
SHRM, in an email statement to TLNT, flatly denies any change in this year’s Board election procedures:
The SHRM Board Elections are held in strict accordance with the SHRM Bylaws, Elections and Balloting (Article VIII), and are neither early nor late this year. As has been the custom for well over a decade, the Annual Business Meeting of the Society is held on the last day of the SHRM Leadership Conference, which is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2012. Ballots are being mailed in accordance with SHRM Bylaws, which require they are mailed at least 60 days prior to the Annual Business Meeting.
The SHRM Bylaws governing the process for write-in candidates have not been amended or changed in over a decade.
The Board has always appointed SHRM members to serve as voting inspectors based upon their membership tenure, knowledge and trustworthiness. This year the Board appointed members of the Membership Advisory Council — who clearly meet this criteria — to serve as voting inspectors to ensure that the membership was again represented in the election process. The SHRM Bylaws (including election procedures) have always been posted on the SHRM website and are available to all members for review.”
Questions over election inspectors, too
For the record, I’m a SHRM member and I have yet to receive any notification either via email or regular mail of the upcoming SHRM Board election as of this writing.
The Transparency Group also questions whether members of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Council should serve as voting inspectors in the upcoming Board election. As they note in an advisory to their membership titled, Is the SHRM Fox Guarding the Henhouse?,
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The SHRM Board has appointed its subordinate MAC members as Voting Inspectors. Hank Jackson, SHRM’s CEO, says MAC members are “objective.”
While SMFT recognizes that the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) members chosen are people of integrity, their responsiblities as laid out in the SHRM bylaws make it impossible for them to be completely impartial.”
They added: “In 2010, we wrote to each of the MAC members with our concerns about the Board’s activities, and in response we got identical letters from each, presumably written by SHRM’s legal counsel. Although we do not question the integrity of any individual MAC member, this type of formulaic response does not give us confidence that MAC members are able to be remotely impartial or independent from SHRM, due to the nature of the MAC role.”
With six SHRM Board seats up for grabs, it’s clear that both SHRM and the Transparency Group are jockeying for position as the actual voting draws near. The big question is whether SMFT can actually get enough attention to their cause to get SHRM members to take the time and vote for their slate of write-in candidates.
That’s a tall order given the nature of both the write-in ballot and the general apathy among SHRM’s 260,000 plus members when it comes to voting in the Board elections. With less than 5 percent of the SHRM membership usually voting in these elections, getting a large enough turnout to actually make a difference is a large hurdle for any outside group to navigate.