I’ve had some time to reflect since the announcement of the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP.
What follows is either what I have learned from discussions with SHRM staff, HRCI staff or board members or my own conclusions based on those discussions.
Summary of Events Leading up to Announcement
The relationship between the SHRM board/leadership and the HRCI board/leadership began to disintegrate about three years ago. This angst was borne out a desire for SHRM to get a share of the revenue associated with certification/recertification. After all, SHRM incurs the expenses to:
- market the HRCI certifications,
- develop the learning system,
- continue research in the professional space to update the exams
- provide learning opportunities for recertification credits.
Over this three-year period of time, the SHRM board has been in discussions with the HRCI board to develop a plan that would be agreeable to both organizations. Multiple options were shared by the SHRM board to the HRCI board, including one that would have the two organizations merge. No resolution was reached.
In February 2014 negotiations completely broke down. A couple of months later, HRCI began to attempt to recruit SHRM staff including at least one extravagant offer to a key SHRM staff member. That was the final blow. SHRM had to counter the HRCI offer to keep the talent in house.
Remember, SHRM developed the learning system. SHRM certified volunteers assisted in the creation and revisions of the exams. SHRM provided the educational sessions that could be used for recertification. The only piece of the certification, they didn’t already own was the administration of the exam.
The Announcement Happened
So, where did we go wrong? In a lot of areas. We got hasty. We didn’t consider the ripple effect of this action. Bottom line: the impact of the announcement on our members, if considered at all, wasn’t given sufficient weight.
In the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with HR professionals in many states and the consensus is this: we love our certification. It’s personal. We worked hard for it. We earned it and we’re not giving it up. We may get the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP, but it won’t be in exchange for, it will be in addition to our PHR or SPHR. Members are just too nervous to let something go that was so difficult to achieve. What if the HRCI certification continues to be the prevailing one? That’s a risk that certified pros are not willing to take; at least not at this point. Now, there may be a reality check at recertification time when fees have to be paid for both to continue with both. I don’t have a crystal ball. We’ll just have to wait and see which certification our members opt to renew.
Meanwhile, chapters and state councils have to consider the demands on their conferences for HRCI recertification credits. I’ve looked at the demographics of HR Florida’s last three annual conferences. The majority of our attendees have a certification, and always ranking among the highest reason to attend our conference (as determined by our post-conference survey) is recertification credit. So, what do we do if our members maintain their HRCI certification and need recertification credit for those? Will we sacrifice conference attendance in order to remain loyal to our professional association? We don’t want to be in the position to have to choose.
These are issues that should have been addressed and known well before the announcement was made.
But, what’s done is done. If we had the ability to rewrite history, there are many things that we all would change. But, alas, we have to move forward from where we are right now. And, we’ll figure it out as we go. We will tread lightly and be methodical in our approach from this point forward. I truly believe that.
Further, I believe in this professional association. We are the voice of the profession. We are the vehicle for training up and empowering HR leaders. We have a lot of work yet to do. We need to focus on that. We’ll figure out this certification issue. We stumbled, fumbled and fell. But we’re a strong and vocal group. We’ll get through this.
Before I close, I want to ever so gently mention what I believe is at the root of this issue. It’s our professional association’s governance. It’s time we take a strong look at how our board members are elected. I’m not talking about the individuals. I’m talking about the process. About 15 years ago we abandoned a governance structure that was comprised of member leaders and went to the current structure that more closely resembles a corporate board structure. I know our board is not comprised of our member leaders and I fear it’s not connected to our members. This was ever so evident in how this certification decision was made, why it was made and the method in which it was hastily announced.
Is it time to take a closer look at that? I invite your insight.
With many years of senior-level human resources experience in the private sector environment, Joyce Chastain, SPHR brings practical know-how to each engagement. Her human resources consulting practice specializes in talent development, employee relations, internal investigations, employment law compliance, and affirmative action plans. She is the owner of Chastain Consulting and currently serves as the 2013-2014 President of the HR Florida State Council.