HR News & Trends

Transparency Group: SHRM Is “Stacking the Deck” in Board Elections

From the HR blog at TLNT.

A group challenging the current policies of the SHRM Board of Directors is questioning whether the world’s largest HR organization is “stacking the deck” by expediting this year’s Board election — a charge that SHRM denies.

The group SHRM Members for Transparency (SMFT) – a group of respected former SHRM Board members, executives, and current SHRM members who have challenged the incumbent Society for Human Resource Management Board over a number of issues, including a lack of transparency and refusal to stand up and publicly explain what it is doing — announced in June that they were going to field (6) six candidates for seats on the SHRM Board of Directors in an attempt to change the Board’s actions from the inside.

Now, in an update to their membership titled “Stacking the Deck,” the Transparency Group questions whether SHRM has accelerated the Board election cycle, presumably to put the Transparency Group’s slate of write-in Board candidates at a greater disadvantage. SMFT says in its update that:

The election for the SHRM Board of Directors is usually held in September or October. Except this year, when the recent notice from Election Services Corporation implies it will be held in August…about two months earlier than last year.

Why would the SHRM Board decide to drastically expedite this year’s election?

Why are the SHRM Bylaws very vague about procedures for write-in candidates?

Why are all Voting Inspectors members of SHRM’s MAC?

We asked SHRM for clarification on write-in procedures for the election, so that we could be sure SMFT supporters followed the rules for writing in candidate names. SHRM has not responded.

Is this an acceptable way to run an election?”

SHRM denies any change in Board voting procedures

SHRM, in an email statement to TLNT, flatly denies any change in this year’s Board election procedures:

The SHRM Board Elections are held in strict accordance with the SHRM Bylaws, Elections and Balloting (Article VIII), and are neither early nor late this year. As has been the custom for well over a decade, the Annual Business Meeting of the Society is held on the last day of the SHRM Leadership Conference, which is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2012. Ballots are being mailed in accordance with SHRM Bylaws, which require they are mailed at least 60 days prior to the Annual Business Meeting.

The SHRM Bylaws governing the process for write-in candidates have not been amended or changed in over a decade.

The Board has always appointed SHRM members to serve as voting inspectors based upon their membership tenure, knowledge and trustworthiness. This year the Board appointed members of the Membership Advisory Council — who clearly meet this criteria — to serve as voting inspectors to ensure that the membership was again represented in the election process. The SHRM Bylaws (including election procedures) have always been posted on the SHRM website and are available to all members for review.”

Questions over election inspectors, too

For the record, I’m a SHRM member and I have yet to receive any notification either via email or regular mail of the upcoming SHRM Board election as of this writing.

The Transparency Group also questions whether members of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Council should serve as voting inspectors in the upcoming Board election. As they note in an advisory to their membership titled, Is the SHRM Fox Guarding the Henhouse?, 

The SHRM Board has appointed its subordinate MAC members as Voting Inspectors. Hank Jackson, SHRM’s CEO, says MAC members are “objective.”

While SMFT recognizes that the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) members chosen are people of integrity, their responsiblities as laid out in the SHRM bylaws make it impossible for them to be completely impartial.”

They added:  ”In 2010, we wrote to each of the MAC members with our concerns about the Board’s activities, and in response we got identical letters from each, presumably written by SHRM’s legal counsel. Although we do not question the integrity of any individual MAC member, this type of formulaic response does not give us confidence that MAC members are able to be remotely impartial or independent from SHRM, due to the nature of the MAC role.”

With six SHRM Board seats up for grabs, it’s clear that both SHRM and the Transparency Group are jockeying for position as the actual voting draws near. The big question is whether SMFT can actually get enough attention to their cause to get SHRM members to take the time and vote for their slate of write-in candidates.

That’s a tall order given the nature of both the write-in ballot and the general apathy among SHRM’s 260,000 plus members when it comes to voting in the Board elections. With less than 5 percent of the SHRM membership usually voting in these elections, getting a large enough turnout to actually make a difference is a large hurdle for any outside group to navigate.

John Hollon is Vice President for Editorial of TLNT.com, and the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices. Contact him at john@tlnt.com, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnhollon.
  • http://twitter.com/akaBruno Matthew Stollak

    John,

    I have received two e-mails regarding the 2013 SHRM election.  One was sent on July 20:

    “Dear SHRM Voter:

    As you may know, eligible SHRM members vote annually on a slate of candidates to hold office on the SHRM Board of Directors for the upcoming year. Terms may vary from a one-year term to a three-year term, and each candidate’s length of term will be indicated on the Board ballot form.

    A ballot and candidate information for the upcoming election will be forwarded to you electronically in the near future in accordance with our Bylaws.

    At that time, you will be provided the link address and the information to access the SHRM Online Election Site. The voting site will remain open for thirty days after the date the ballot is sent.

    For information about the SHRM Board, please visit SHRM Online at http://www.shrm.org/about/boardofdirectors/ . In addition, you may review the SHRM Bylaws at http://www.shrm.org/bylaws .

    The voting process is important and we encourage eligible voters to participate in the election of candidates to the 2013 SHRM Board of Directors.”

    A second e-mail was sent on August 3:

    “Dear SHRM Voter,

    The purpose of this e-mail is to alert you to look for an e-mail from
    Election Services Corporation on or about August 10, 2012 with the
    subject line, “SHRM’s 2013 Board of Directors Election.”  

    As you may know, eligible SHRM members vote annually on a slate of
    candidates to hold office on the SHRM Board of Directors for the
    upcoming year.  As a voting SHRM member, you will receive an e-mail
    containing a link to the online ballot and instructions for candidate
    voting for the 2013 SHRM Board of Directors.  The email will be sent
    from Election Services Corporation, the vendor that has assisted SHRM
    with our elections for several years, and should arrive on or about
    August 10, 2012. 

    In particular you may want to consider setting your e-mail filters so
    that you will receive this e-mail, or look in your “spam-box” on the
    days on or around August 10, 2012.  The e-mail will come from the
    following e-mail address: shrmhelp@electionservicescorp.com.

    The voting process is important and we encourage all eligible voters
    to participate in the election of candidates to the 2013 SHRM Board of
    Directors.

    Thank you for your support of SHRM.

    Henry A. Hart, SHRM General Counsel and Corporate Secretary”

  • http://twitter.com/akaBruno Matthew Stollak

    Looking over past e-mails, I do not have 2010 or 2011 info, but:
    *In 2007, ballots were sent out September 7, with a due date of October 7
    *In 2008, ballots were sent out September 15, with a due date of October 15
    *In 2009, ballots were sent out September 15, with a due date of October 15

    So, a date of August 10 seems early given past history

  • Mike Losey

    Thanks Matthew, for highlighting some the history on the SHRM balloting for the SHRM Board elections. 

    What SHRM officials are saying about this year’s date being no different from other years
    if flat out wrong and they MUST KNOW it or I will have to assume they suffer from severe memory loss.

    For instance, on August 2, 2012, SHRM’s CEO, Hank Jackson wrote to the SHRM
    chapter leadership stating:

    “Dear SHRM Colleague,

    Some of you have inquired about an e-mail from a non-SHRM group regarding the upcoming Board Elections. The e-mail inaccurately implies changes in the election process.  

    The SHRM Board Elections are held in strict accordance with the SHRM Bylaws, Elections and Balloting (Article VIII), and are neither early nor late this year.”

    The same statement was given to TLNT and was incorporated into John Hollon’s article on this subject.)

    When really was the SHRM balloting last year? 

    WHO ARE YOU TO BELIEVE?

    Everyone should write to Mr. Jackson (CEO@shrm.org) and ask him if the ballots last year were sent to eligible SHRM members on approximately October 9 2011 and that all ballots had to be returned by November 10 2011. He will have to say “YES.”

    This year SHRM officials have announced that the ballots will be sent to eligible SHRM
    members approximately August 9. Ballots will need to be returned 30 days later, or approximately September 9, 2012.

    Then ask Mr. Jackson if the ballots are distributed on August 9 isn’t that TWO MONTHS
    EARLIER THAN LAST YEAR?

    Then ask Mr. Jackson … WHY IS THE BALLOTING TWO MONTHS EARLIER?

    Could it be to make it more difficult for SMFT to run a successful write-in campaign?

    SO NOW WHO DO YOU BELIEVE AND TRUST?

    Web:  http://www.shrmmembersfortransparency.com