Creating Community – Human Resources Practitioners of Color #SHRM19



HR Pros know very well the importance of a peer network. One of the benefits of attending an event on the scale of the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition (#SHRM19) is the networking opportunities. There will be many conference-sponsored opportunities to connect in Las Vegas, such as the SHRM Foundation brunch, the certification lounge and Meet-To-Eats. These real-life connections can lead to long-lasting relationships and career opportunities. These connections can also create a community.

Crystal Braboy, Founder and Chief Administrator of HRPOC, recognized the need for a peer network for people of color working in human resources. She created a Facebook in 2014 in hopes of developing this community. SHRM18 in Chicago, her home city, gave her the opportunity to expand her reach. The group is excited to do it again in Las Vegas.

What motivated the formation of the HR Practitioners of Color group? 

I have always been a fan of safe spaces, and spaces where those who have similar life experiences can learn from one another and help each other get to the next level. When I sought out that type of space in the HR realm, I couldn't find one that felt like a true community. With that, I decided to create a community - a family - of minority HR professionals who could gather in digital and physical spaces to share brilliant career advice, best on-the-job practices, and trade tools to help each another perform our jobs more intelligently, effectively, and in alignment with the law. HRPOC was intentionally designed to be a safe, professional space for all HR Practitioners who identify as persons of color, as our experiences in our field are unique and deserve to be discussed in a space that is all our own.

What was the biggest success of your first year? 

The funny thing is that I conceptualized HRPOC and started the group on Facebook in 2014, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to grow it - after all, I didn't really know many HR Practitioners of Color, personally. Last year, when the SHRM Annual Conference came to my home city of Chicago, I started toying with the idea of hosting a networking event for HRPOCs who were going to be in town for conference, and it was the promotion of that event which ultimately led to the exponential growth of the group that I had been hoping for, for years! The group went from sitting at around 14 members for years, to amassing a couple hundred members within a matter of weeks! The networking event itself was the highlight of the year. 150 smart and savvy HR Practitioners of Color in one space, getting to know one another, and making lifetime connections.  It was so amazing to see all of these HR professionals of various ethnic backgrounds under one roof, of varying employment stages and industries, together, having a great time! 

Did any other networking opportunities continue post-conference?

There have been smaller networking gatherings in Chicago, DC and Atlanta. We are excited that HRPOC group members took it upon themselves to spearhead these gatherings in their local areas. We hope that members from many more cities plan to host gatherings for HRPOCs! Excitingly, there have also been consulting groups birthed from the HRPOC group, and so many entrepreneurs in the HR space have found a true audience for their services in HRPOC's sacred space of over 1,300 members. We are so proud of all that HRPOC has become, and excited for all of the ways that we plan to grow the platform, moving forward.

What are your plans for #SHRM19 in Las Vegas?

The HRPOC 9 -person Administrative Board will host our second Annual HRPOC Networking Night in Las Vegas on Sunday, June 23, 2019 from 5 - 8 p.m. It will be held 108 floors in the air, atop the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino! It is open to all HR Professionals, and we are excited to create a space for last year's connections to be revisited, and for new attendees to join the fold, and bring their expertise to our growing, amazing community. 

What are the major challenges for HRPOCs?

The major challenges for minority HR professionals are that there are far too few of us who are leading the function at our respective organizations. We're not seeing ourselves reflected as much as we would like (nor as much as we deserve to) in our industry's professional spaces. We also have trouble securing HR mentors of color. The HRPOCs in this group are so creative, multi-faceted, and powerful, and through this platform, we are, daily, encouraging one another to blaze the trails that have not yet been laid out, and we are happily taking young practitioners of color by the hand to give both guidance and opportunities. In all of our various stages of career, we're helping one another either get through that entry-level door that is oh-so-difficult at times, or helping that middle manager harness their innovative ideas and vision to bring the greatest value-add to their team, or encouraging that executive with one foot outside of the C-Suite to shatter that glass ceiling!  

Register for 2nd Annual HR Practitioners of Color Network Night : here.

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