Last month, almost 750 SHRM members joined us in Washington D.C. for SHRM’s 39th Employment Law and Legislation Conference. It was an especially exciting time to be in the nation’s capital, with volatile health care negotiations and a Supreme Court nomination underway. We could feel the energy and immediacy in every session. There is so much at stake right now, with changes coming at a pace we’ve never experienced.
Not surprisingly, we had an overwhelming response to our Advocacy Day, with over a third of attendees joining us on Capitol Hill to engage with representatives and discuss the issues critical to our profession, our organizations, and the people we serve. I want to thank everyone for your hard work, preparation and willingness to be heard. This is how democracy gets done.
SHRM members are effective advocates for our profession because we cover both sides of the aisle. We have to, because our cause, and our calling, is to support people from all walks of life, at all levels of the workplace. And the hottest policy issues today—health care, immigration, workplace flexibility—are HR issues. They are not red or blue, urban or rural, Millennial or Boomer. They are issues that impact every worker, and we have to be their voice in Washington and state houses around the country.
It is also HR’s job to comply with the myriad of federal and state laws and regulations that affect our day-to-day work. It can be frustrating when we see legislators taking actions that don’t seem to reflect all the information out there. Did they have any input at all from those who will be affected most, or from those who understand the practical realities of implementation?
This is why it is so important for the voice of HR to be heard. Not just once a year in Washington, but all year round. For our profession, the issues are not right or left, but they are unchanging. And our responsibilities are never finished.
On health care we need to advocate for the millions of people who gain coverage through the workplace and talk about why we need to preserve this system. On workplace flexibility and paid leave, we must help policymakers understand that companies must be free to compete for talent in an environment of scarcity.
And as for the workplace, discussions about paid leave, wages, gender equity and other matters should be based on the same specific and solid principles: Workplaces should be innovatively flexible, fair and competitive.
That’s the bottom line for SHRM advocacy, now and in the future. It is up to us to help policymakers and stakeholders understand what it takes to make the 21st Century workplace work for everyone. Our voice is essential, not just for our profession, but for the good of our organizations, our employees, our economy and society at large.
The 2017 SHRM Employment Law and Legislative Conference is a wrap—and by all accounts a success. But our work of bringing HR’s voice of reason to workplace public policy continues.