Okay maybe I’m exaggerating slightly but hear me out. The Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario (HRPA), like any other HR association across the continent, are holding elections for their Board of Directors. I don’t have a detailed understanding of the specifics and nuances relating to responsibilities, time commitment, etc… but each of the 12 spots on the Board are held by paying members in good standing, who possess an HR certification. Each eligible voting member (I happen to be ineligible because I don’t possess any one of a CHRP, CHRL or CHRE — long story but this has nothing to do with what I’m about to talk about) of the Association has the right to cast their vote, and to my knowledge, the entire process is a fair and democratic one.
So What’s the Problem?
Well, have a look at the image below. It’s a screenshot from the HRPA website (the only way to access it is if you’re a paying member AND eligible to vote) on the list of nominees running for election on the Board. What do you see? They surprisingly separate the list of nominees into 2 categories — let’s call the list with the majority of the nominees the “regular list”, and the other list with 3 nominees the “endorsed candidate list”. Wait… WHAT? An endorsed list from the Nomination Committee? Why would a committee like this publicly endorse a small group of nominees over others? What’s the criteria for receiving such an endorsement? What authority does the nomination committee have to do such a thing? If the elections are truly democratic, via the eligible voting membership, aren’t the elections supposed to be unbiased and fair? How does splitting the nominees into 2 categories achieve this?
Time For a Little Research
So being the curious type I quickly went to my favourite website, Google. I quickly found what I was looking for, which was the HRPA “By Law 1: General By Laws”. If you scroll down to Section 9.05, “Nomination and Election Process”, it talks about the process by which Board Members are nominated and elected. As I read through this section everything looks okay, until I get to 9.05(d), which reads as follows:
The governance and nominating committee will present to the Voting Members a slate of Candidates that the committee recommends for election as Member Directors.
Now if you go further up to section 9.01, “Qualification of Member Directors”, it specifically outlines the eligibility criteria. Of the 12 items listed, I would consider only 2 of them to be subjective in nature — 9.01(f) and 9.01(g). That is, their assessment is not black and white and would require a subjective evaluation of some kind. This I can live with, but then the Nomination Committee should publicly document and present to the voting membership how they evaluated each eligible nominee based on the criteria. Given the fact that the by laws enable and empower the committee to make recommendations regarding nominees, doing this would be fair and appropriate.
You may ask yourself why I am writing this post, which likely reads full of skepticism. This is because of a couple of things. First, the history of the HRPA is one that I do not resonate with — I do not feel the need to comment further on this point. Second, I largely disagree with their current strategic direction. Click here to have a quick read-through on their 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. It predominantly focuses on regulation, accreditation, policy-making and standards — all important things, but will not enable our membership to keep up to the pace of change our global business community is experiencing. Believe me, I am all for what they are focusing on, but it cannot be our focal point. We need to focus on building membership skills that will help them be successful in a highly transient, rapidly changing, technologically savvy and volatile international business community. We have an opportunity to boost our membership IQ in core areas that will enable them to propel the business community forward in ways we currently can only imagine. Where is the emphasis on technology? Business? Social media? Global talent management? Global recruitment? Disruptive ideas? The list goes on.
Given the above, I am not overly confident that the recommendations made by the Nomination Committee are truly unbiased and based on factual information. Perhaps I am wrong, but as I have argued, in my mind skepticism is synonymous with the HRPA. Please… someone please prove me wrong because I would like to be!
Jeff, I was shocked to see this. I’m not sure how they’ve determined that those particular candidates should be endorsed. This should be transparent and clear. I’ve never seen any election where this was the practice.
I also agree that the focus for HRPA on regulations and legislation is important. It’s the cost of entry… but to truly move HR forward we need to realize and focus on the strategic capability of HR to drive organizational performance and innovation.
As an HRPA member (and CHRL ) for many years, in recent years I’ve felt much less like I was a part of a community and more like the only reason top remain a member is to keep my designation (which isn’t overly relevant for the kind of work I focus on today anyway).
Thank you for pointing this out.