I hustled from Atlanta Hartsfield this afternoon so I could make it to the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in time to see the opening address from Condoleezza Rice. Her resume looks twice as good as yours (or mine) ever will. And this is not by accident. More on that in a second…
Hank Jackson, President of SHRM, kicked the conference off with his words of wisdom for our fine profession. He told us that the new SHRM HR Competency Framework will be unveiled this week. He said a bunch of other stuff. And then he said [I paraphrase], “HR has a seat at the table; in fact, they own that seat. But now HR needs to focus on getting that seat at the head of the table.” I actually kind of like this. How many heads of companies or boards of directors do you know who cut their teeth in HR? Exactly. But here’s the big question: Why? Is it because most in the HR profession don’t want that seat? Is it because most in the profession want it, but don’t try? Is it that we try, but are rebuked? Or is it because we very simply aren’t capable? I, for the record, don’t think it’s the latter. I don’t in know which one it is…it’s probably all of them. But I do know one thing for sure: no one is going to go over pull out that chair and give it to you. No one. You (we) will have to earn it.
When Dr. Rice was a young girl, her wise parents said to her, “you are going to have to be twice as good as everybody else [to get ahead in this world].” They said this because she was growing up during a time when blacks…and girls…had the odds stacked against them. And so she did. She worked twice as hard and she was twice as good as everybody else. And then she became the U.S.’s 66th Secretary of State. HR, our plight isn’t anywhere close to what minority women have faced in our lifetime.
But we’ll still need to be twice as good as everybody else to get that seat at the head of the table.