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The Last Word: SHRM’s Door Swings Open for Whom?

The reason for the presser, of course, was to help quell the firestorm of controversy and confusion swirling around SHRM’s May 12 announcement that it is entering the certification process.

May 20, 2014
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I tuned in to the SHRM press conference today on its new credentialing program for human resources professionals.

The reason for the presser, of course, was to help quell the firestorm of controversy and confusion swirling around SHRM’s May 12 announcement that it is entering the certification process. During the 47-minute online conference, SHRM executives called the move a unification that President and CEO Hank Jackson said would bring “unanimity to the profession” that currently deals with “seven or eight” bodies of knowledge — i.e., credentialing organizations.

The most popular credentialing body is the HR Certification Institute, which SHRM actually created and funded beginning in the 1970s. And you’d think that they’re the odd man out in this process.

What struck me though was how Jackson and fellow SHRM executives Bob Carr and Bette Francis repeatedly said they would welcome HRCI back into the certification process. While there has been a “he said, she said” back-and-forth, who knew what and when regarding SHRM’s insertion of itself into the process, the tone appeared to be conciliatory and, well, welcoming.

“If we had a choice, we wouldn’t get into the credentialing process,” Jackson said. “Partnering with HRCI would be my choice by a long shot,” he added.

Another point: “We encourage HRCI to join us in this effort.”

And finally: “The door is open if HRCI is interested in building a long and lasting relationship.”

You gotta like SHRM’s open-door policy here. Let’s meet; let’s chat. It could be like old times again.

Except, this little nugget posted on HCRI’s site by Clarissa Peterson, chair of the HR Certification Institute board of directors and chief human resources and ethics officer of Abt Associates. Headlined “Let’s Be Clear: Respect for the Trust and Integrity of HR Certification,” it sounds like a trapdoor with freshly oiled hinges: “A SHRM executive notified HRCI that it would be excluded from the SHRM Annual Conference – an event the Institute has participated in for years,” Peterson wrote of SHRM’s event next month in Orlando.

If that’s true, then just what door are they leaving ajar for HRCI executives?

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