I recently returned home from #SHRM22 after an action packed five days of learning, connecting, networking, hugging, tweeting, and so much more. It was great to see so many of my #HR friends that I hadn’t seen since 2019. Even though I was a bit under the weather for the duration of the conference (not COVID), I still tried to make the best out of the experience. I attended many great sessions featuring speakers like Steve Browne, Steve Gilliland, Alexander Pullen, Bruce Christopher, Tina-Marie Wohlfield, Johnny C. Taylor, President George W. Bush, Jeff Nally, Claire Petrie, and others. I connected with a few exhibitors like TOOTRIS, Apple One, TicketsAtWork, Paylocity, Paycor, BambooHR, SHRM, Nationwide (Pet) Insurance, and many others. I met a ton of new people, but feel like I will stay connected regularly with about four to six of them; three new connections was my goal! Overall, it was an incredible event.
I always like to share my main takeaways after a SHRM conference. Today, I will share my top three takeaways, which was hard to narrow down since there were so many. But first, let me share a little story with you.
This year, my goal was to focus on sessions and speakers that were important to me. As you may recall, the theme of the conference this year was Cause the Effect, and my declaration was that I would Cause the Effect by changing the mindset that people have about HR’s reputation. So I wanted to attend sessions that could help prepare me for doing just that. I wanted to better understand what I could do to show people that HR is human and we care about our people. As a freebie takeaway, Steve Browne said, “if you don’t believe in your people, then get the hell out of HR.” I believe this whole-heartily. We need to put our people first, believe in them, and be a safe place for them to go to. The three statements / takeaways below prove exactly that.
- “Be a people first organization.” – Steve Browne
- “Psychological safety means that every single employee feels safe enough to speak up in their organization.” – Alexander Pullen
- “As HR Professionals, if it is safe for you to be out at work, then be out. It will allow you to be a safe space for others within your organization.” – Jeff Nally
I plan to always put my people first and advocate for them. I also promise to give them a safe place to come to if they need it. I never want anyone in my organization to feel like they don’t belong.
With that being said, I will share one last freebie takeaway and story with you. I believe it was Brian McComak that asked during the session “Welcoming All LGBTQ+ Voices – Through the Four Lenses of Representation” – how many times have you come out during #SHRM22? They used a Menti quiz to poll the audience and the average answer fell between zero and one times; my response was zero.
Now anyone that saw me knows that I was representing with my Pride pins and keychain. They were very subtle attempts that many probably just saw and thought I am an ally. Not many people commented on them and I rarely brought them up. But right before I started writing this blog post, I finished watching the final season of “Love, Victor.” In the last episode, Victor gave some incredible speech about being brave and it really resonated with me. If I want to show people that HR is human and we care about our people, I need to be vulnerable. Those closest to me know that I am not straight, but it is not something I share with everyone. It’s not something that I try to hide, but I’m also not announcing it for the world to know. First of all, I hate labels. And second, I also hate that people have to announce that they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, in this very moment in time, I feel that if I want to make a difference, I need to be my authentic self, and this is me. I am the HR Panda and I am a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Chew on that, social media.