2020: The Year of HR


Today, September 26, is Human Resource Professional Day, when our profession is recognized for its positive impact on work, workers and workplaces around the world.

But I would assert that in 2020, one day isn’t nearly enough! This has been the year of the HR professional.

From the moment the true impact of the coronavirus pandemic became clear, HR leaders stepped up to become workplace “first responders.” SHRM’s own research shows that a striking 87 percent of HR professionals report their work has been especially crucial to their employer since the outbreak began.

We’ve managed an extraordinary array of new demands—from transitioning to remote work and retooling policies to very difficult business decisions compelling us to pivot on appropriate levels of staffing and benefits to match new financial realities—all while managing our own work remotely and caring for our families and our own health. Our task has been to deftly balance people and profits as never before.

And this summer, social protests in our communities reverberated within our businesses because systemic issues of racial inequity and bias persist in the workplace. We have held difficult conversations about race and social justice while seeking actions that can accelerate change in the workplace. We continue to expand the framework for inclusion, to include differences in political opinion and individual expression.

Culture has never been more important to our organizations than now. And HR leaders are its keepers and curators. We have seen how the challenges of 2020 have tested our organization’s values and guiding principles, and we’ve had to ascertain if our cultures work under pressure and then adapt them to a new reality.

Our portfolio is exceptionally critical today, and it has been gratifying for me to see how our profession has stepped up boldly. You have coped with unimaginable pressures, but the result is that we have provided leadership for our businesses and institutions during a dynamic and unpredictable time, elevating both the practice and profession of HR, thanks to your dedication.

It’s not over—our challenges will continue. But I hope you will take some time today to pause, reflect and honor all you have achieved in the past six months, and recognize yourself as the business leaders and true heroes you are.

I wish you a happy HR Professionals Day and congratulate you for all you do to elevate the practice of HR and create better workplaces for a better world.


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