FROM THE CEO
LET HR DO HR
By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP
When we gather in Chicago for #SHRM18, don’t be surprised to feel a heightened sense of excitement in
the air. Many of us are awakening to the idea
that there has never been a more electrifying,
rewarding moment to be in the HR profession.
When the #Me Too movement was breaking
out last year, we kept hearing cries of “Where
was HR?” That reaction may be irritating to us
practitioners (who, of course, never went away),
but it’s not necessarily a criticism. Look at it this
way: They weren’t asking “Where
was legal?” They understood that
the “people issues” dominating
the headlines—such as harass-
ment, pay equity and inclusion—
are cultural in nature and are
frmly in the wheelhouse of HR.
When I talk to CEOs across
industries these days, it is apparent that they get it now: “People
matter” is not just a feel-good
message. Accessing human capital is now harder than accessing
fnancial capital. Growth is more
likely to be limited by talent than
At the same time, the world of
work is experiencing a demo-
graphic “perfect storm,” with
a confuence of trends colliding to make talent
acquisition the riskiest endeavor an organization
can undertake. Failure is not an option. A 3. 9
percent unemployment rate means there is a job
for everyone who wants to work. The problem
for employers, of course, is that however willing,
much of America’s workforce is not skilled up
and ready to meet the demand. Naturally, or-
ganizations turn to HR to innovate solutions to
the talent crisis that will sustain the lifeblood of
profts and productivity.
So, it would seem the HR profession has it
made, right? We’re poised for growth and a
higher level of prestige. Leaders are telling us
that HR functions sincerely matter.
But consider this thought: Is the HR profession the only one that can perform the function
of fnding talent? Handling a sticky employee
matter? Keeping workforces engaged? It’s not
unreasonable for leaders to conclude that the
work we do can efciently be divided up and
performed by other “specialists.” Already, we
are seeing the rise of chief talent ofcers who
report directly to the CEO. Misconduct investigations are often delegated to legal departments.
In a rapidly changing world, the HR profession must be viewed as the best function
to handle the business of people. And leadership must have enough trust in us to guide
our organizations through such tumultuous
times. To elevate our profession, we must show
that nothing and no one can substitute for our
When will we know we have succeeded?
When organizations don’t want to make a move
without consulting us, and when leaders are
confdent to stand back and let HR do HR. We
have exciting but challenging work ahead of us
to meet this unique moment as a profession.
I look forward to exploring this theme more
fully at #SHRM18, and to seeing many of you in
To elevate our profession, we must show that nothing
and no one can substitute for our unique expertise.