As we approach the HRO Today Forum North America, this year our team is especially grateful for all of the support the HR community has had for our mission to educate, inform, and improve the practice of human resources. We will be hosting more than 100 Chief HR Officers at the event, and we look forward to a robust dialogue. In addition, more than half the sessions are “think tank” or brainstorming sessions and we expect a great deal of questions—and hopefully, a great deal of answers, though they do not always go hand in hand. We do know a great deal of best practice sharing will take place. That fulfills HRO Today’s mission.
One of the highlights of the event this year is the 10th Anniversary of the HRO Today CHRO of the Year Awards Gala. The program has grown immeasurably during the past decade from its inaugural year, and it has changed the way we operate and has helped to promote and model best practices and best leadership in HR. Many of you will not be able to attend the event, so I wanted to share an excerpt from the welcome letter of the Gala as it reflects how I regard the last 10 years and how they redefined the profession of HR.
This is the 10th anniversary of the Gala honoring the best practices and best execution of the very best in HR. That sentence has the word “best” in it many times for a reason: HR is evolving and in many positive ways.
If Rip Van Winkle had been a CHRO and gone to sleep in 2013, the night of the first gala would have occurred on May 5th, 2014, so how would you describe the business, global and social events of the last 10 years? Would it be a positive story of relative global peace (not war free mind you, so relative), progress on science, medicine, and human productivity? A story of where humanity met the challenges of a global plague and muscled through it? Would it be a story where heightened consciousness and greater sensitivity moved humanity forward in encouraging ways? Or would it be a story about social division, a global pandemic, civil strife and protests, and global and war-like brinksmanship?
Someone once asked the late comic genius, George Carlin*, if he saw a glass of water as half empty or half full. In the bit, he asks why, and he’s told that by seeing it as half full or half empty determines if you are a pessimist or an optimist. He responded that it was neither half full nor half empty; the glass was just “too big.”
The last 10 years happened and whether you see the global events in a positive or negative light doesn’t really change the history. But, the last 10 years have been positive for HR. We have seen unprecedented challenges and the concomitant stress, and the opportunity for greater recognition by CEOs, Boards, and operating executives of the incredible contributions of HR to corporate and organizational performance. Each year we get to honor a year of accomplishments in HR. As we celebrate both 2023 and the 10th anniversary, let us all celebrate the HR achievements in the past decade.
The past 10 years in society and in business have been full of pain, loss, opportunity, and challenge. Many of those challenges grew from tragic events such as COVID-19 or civil strife. Those challenges were laid at the feet of the HR departments, and you all met those challenges and showed not only the capabilities of the HR teams, but also the promise of what they are able to contribute to the future. The role of HR and its leaders is continuing to grow, and to everyone reading this—not only the people we honor at the Gala—take a moment to reflect and then take a bow. You have earned it.
*This may be one of a few George Carlin’s “clean” jokes so getting it in an HR related publication is an accomplishment unto itself…
Elliot S. Clark