I’m listening to China Gorman delivering the closing key-note to what has been an outstanding Ohio SHRM. China starts by citing a Fast Company report from 2005, which legitimized denigrating HR.This hasn’t stopped, social media has exploded it and HR professionals have listened, and even take part themselves. It’s like a feeding fest.
China is delivering an impassioned call to action for this to stop. She feels that the HR team should be the “flashmob” of the organisation. Making the right noises and getting noticed, in a coordinated and public way.
If you talk to marketing leaders, they talk marketing and business. if you talk to finance directors, they talk finance and business, but if you talk to HR professionals, they tend to talk only HR, omitting the business.
China feels this is where the change in the profession can come. Raising the HR brand by contribution, in order to highlight the great things that come from HR, rather than just the negative perception. A positive change will come by developing influence inside and outside the organisation.
A show of hands in the room suggests that 75% of the people present could get an appointment with the CEO within 2 weeks. 80% have served on a board of directors. 90% had P and L responsibility. This straw poll, and it is by no means scientific, but fairly representative of the profession, shows the real potential for influence, by adding business to the conversation.

The Flash Mob Video at the end of the show

China urges HR professionals to read more, and develop their understanding of business in order to be able to take an active part in the business conversation.
The big challenge facing organisations is the employability of those entering in to the workforce. A study of employers shows that 42% felt High School levers were deficient for employability, and 20% felt the same for graduates. HR have an opportunity to influence their organisation to address this gap, internally with their own hiring and development, and externally with local colleges. This is one key area that HR can become increasingly influential.
China produced plenty of evidence, and research sources to show how and where HR can make a real difference.
China’s flashmob analogy is a good one. Flashmobs are infectious, viral and get noticed. They are by nature, very public, requiring confidence and a little showmanship to get things moving. They also put a smile on everyone’s face.

With hard times still ahead, and virtually every issue impacting people, there’s a real opportunity for HR professionals to play a real active part by taking part in the business discussions, recognising their potential influence and exercising it a bit more. As always, the pocket fireball that is China Gorman, laid out the challenge to the Ohio SHRM Chapter. If the audience is anything to go by, we might just see some real changes in the perception of the profession coming.


China Gorman