Say "Seat At The Table," Pay @shrmfoundation $100

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, December 6, 2012

As I have written several times on this blog and elsewhere, I appreciate the SHRM Foundation.  Their products and work are outstanding.  

One of the videos from the SHRM Foundation I used to show in my HR class was entitled "HR Heroes: What it means to be a Strategic HR Leader in the 21st Century" (later renamed HR Role Models) It featured Libby Sartain and others discussing, as the title suggests, strategic leadership at both high-tech and low-tech companies.  The SHRM Foundation even produced a nice little discussion guide with it which you can see here.

The introduction to the guide contains the following gem:
There is a lot of talk about HR being a strategic partner/leader today.  Yet in most organizations HR is not part of the executive team.  So, what is required to be a strategic HR leader?  And what must HR do when it has a "seat at the table?

Seems reasonable, particularly to someone new to the HR field.  So, why have I stopped showing it?  

It was created in 2003.   

The role of the strategic HR leader has changed...yet, in 2012, there is still conversation about that piece of furniture.

At the 2012 Leadership Conference in November, Jose Berrios, Chair of the SHRM Board of Directors, mentioned "seat at the table" in his opening remarks.

Yesterday at the HR Fishbowl, guest blogger Christopher de Mers used that same phrase in an excellent piece. 

Nearly 10 years later, we are still having that same conversation.

So, how do we change it?  How do we get rid of that dreaded phrase?

Do we go all Samuel Jackson - Snakes on a Plane-style "Enough is Enough, I've had it with this M@#&$%F*#*ing seat at this M@#&$%F*#*ing table?!?!?

Here is what I propose...treat the phrase like a swear jar you had as a kid.

If you hear a HR talk where that four word phrase is uttered, groan loudly and say to that person that he or she MUST donate $100 to the SHRM Foundation (here's the donation link).  End of story.

Similarly, call the person out on Twitter with the hashtag #SHRMFound100:  "At today's #SHRM luncheon, John Jorgensen used the dreaded phrase, "seat at the table."  $100 to the @shrmfoundation #SHRMFound100"

It is hoped that such an approach will not only banish the phrase from the HR profession, but it will raise some money toward a good cause.  And, who knows, perhaps the SHRM Foundation could use the funds to make an updated DVD!


You know, even though I used the phrase yesterday ( as an example of what we need to stop doing, I have to agree with Matt...

And I have sent in my donation!


by ChristopherinHR on December 6, 2012 at 6:54 AM. #

Thanks Chris!!

by Matthew Stollak on December 6, 2012 at 6:57 AM. #

Great post, Matt! As the Executive Director of the SHRM Foundation, I truly appreciate your support, as well as support from all those who use the four letter word (thanks, Chris)! And hey, I am an alum of St. Norbert College...1990!!

Mark Schmit, Ph.D., SPHR

by Anonymous on December 6, 2012 at 2:23 PM. #

Thanks Mark! I served as the Wisconsin SHRM State Council Foundation Director from 2005-2008, so I know the value of the SHRM Foundation.

I'm glad to see SNC alums doing well and I hope to meet you in Chicago at SHRM 2013.

by Matthew Stollak on December 6, 2012 at 6:50 PM. #

Just for the record, I haven't used that phrase in YEARS except as an example of what not to say. As China Gorman says, we need to stop talking about furniture and just move forward.

Great post my friend.

by John Jorgensen on December 7, 2012 at 6:47 AM. #

Love the idea Matt. That phrase absolutely drives me crazy and we need to retire it immediately.

by Anonymous on December 16, 2012 at 10:44 AM. #

The fact that HR professionals discuss this as a serious issue, is exactly why HR can't be taken seriously as any type of leadership or anything other than a trench worker. Stop whining about nomenclature and do something productive like approve your guy's sick leave so he can have his kidney transplanted.

by Anonymous on June 6, 2013 at 1:44 AM. #

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