What is advocacy? The word means standing up for what you believe in, educating others, and persuading them to consider your point of view. That is exactly what hundreds of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) volunteer leaders did today on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as part of SHRM Advocacy Day. This was my second Advocacy Day (I’ve also participated at the state level in Colorado SHRM’s Day at the Capitol event in Denver), and HR leaders were able to spend quality time with our Senators and Representatives, talking about real HR policy issues that affect our companies and employees.
Because the SHRM A-Team provides so much support on the issues important to me and my clients, it was easy to be well-informed on timely topics that the U.S. Congress is considering right now. Tax reform, and specifically how the tax reform plans may treat educational expenses paid for by employers, was an important issue we discussed today, as well as paid leave and workplace flexibility. The Workflex Bill gives employers the opportunity to gain clarity in the form of voluntary ERISA-based plans, while all employees can attain paid leave and the flexibility they need in order to give their best performance at work, and balance their jobs with their lives.
Our senators and representatives recognize SHRM as a trusted source for information and policy analysis, and the A-Team paved the way for our visits by organizing the day’s meetings, verifying who among the volunteer leaders was a constituent of each member of Congress, and ensuring we had logistical support in order to make these meetings happen. When we arrived, we were greeted by staff members of our senators-trusted team members who help them research and formulate policy, and decide how to vote on legislation-and were able to discuss these important issues with them. As experts in HR, we also answered their questions and provided additional information they need in order to make recommendations to our representatives and senators.
Understandably, Representative Jared Polis and his staff were very busy with landmark tax reform legislation being considered (and ultimately passed) in the U.S. House today. Even so, they accepted information from us and promised to review it. I know that they would have met with us had it been possible. Last year, at my visit with Representative Jared Polis and his staff, Jared himself came to say “hello” and thank us for sharing our expertise. By the way, Jared insists on being called by his first name, by his staff, and by his constituents. He is running for Governor of the state of Colorado, so others outside my Boulder area congressional district will soon get to know him as well.
Getting a glimpse inside the U.S. Capitol, where our leaders convene to make policy and pass laws that affect each and every one of us in this great country, is not only deeply inspiring but also humbling. The building itself, and the statues and architecture are beautiful and filled with history. We were very fortunate to be able to participate in person in Washington, D.C. today, but each one of us has the opportunity to make our voices heard and participate in the process every day, by contacting our senators and representatives. A great way to do this is by becoming part of the SHRM A-Team, because their tools and policy analysis makes it easy to be in the know about what is going on with proposed legislation, and the SHRM Advocacy app means I can write to lawmakers in only a few minutes, using my phone. And ongoing webinars help me make sure I know what issues are at the forefront of labor and employment and HR policy.
Not only did our Colorado team make an impact on tax reform and workplace flexibility policy through our visits, but we also enjoyed learning more about one another (and reconnecting with those we already know), and starting off our Volunteer Leader Summit ready to ignite our leadership! #SHRMVLS