Would You Sign This Petition? STEM, SHRM and the Body of Knowledge

William Tincup Audacious Ideas, Change, Good HR, HR Technology, Science, Trench HR, William Tincup

This is going to sound crazy. Wait for it… wait for it… wait for it… I want to change HR.

Seems a bit premature… story of my life. (We’ll have to delve into that with another blog post.)

When folks outside of the ecosystem of HR think of HR, they think of:

  • Personnel and Staffing
  • Compliance
  • People People

That’s about it. Trust me on this… talk with a commoner… unaided recall… when I say HR you think X…

Did that make you happy or sad?

HR pros and folks within the ecosystem think of HR way differently. Because of the curriculum in higher education institutions, the Body of Knowledge approved by HRCI, content via SHRM through their website, webcasts and/or conferences, and/or blogs like this one, etc. Our collective perception of what HR is all about is 80% the same. The weird part is where this collective perception comes from. Me thinks the Body of Knowledge is at the core of this perception. Those not familiar, the Body of Knowledge contains six chapters:

  • Business Management and Strategy
  • Workforce Planning and Employment
  • Human Resource Development
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Employee and Labor Relations
  • Risk Management

I don’t really have a problem with this list explicitly. Everything on it makes sense and, truthfully, it’s what practitioners live and breathe on a day-to-day basis. The short story is… I want to add to this illustrious list. In particular, I want to add a seventh chapter to the Body of Knowledge.

I know you’re curious at this point. Right?

STEM. Yep, I want the seventh chapter of the Body of Knowledge to be Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Why? Well, it’s easy for me to explain… our continued value to the organizations we serve will be directly linked to our mastery of STEM, as well as, the other chapters of the Body of Knowledge. We have to raise our game and, imho, that’s not just about knowing HR better than anyone else in the firm… it will be about… real connections to the hard sciences.

Think about all the HR content you consume in any given year. Reading articles & white papers, listening to podcasts & webcast, attending conferences, etc… almost ALL of that content can be traced directly back to the current Body of Knowledge. That’s great if we want to incrementally be better than last year. But, imho, that won’t bring real change to our beloved profession.

Folks, the warning signs of change are all around us… big data, little data, metrics, analytics, standards, mathematics, measurement, predictive, coding, SaaS, cloud, mobile, social… on and on, and on, and on, and on. We’re being bombarded with hard science related words on daily basis. And, the encroachment of the hard sciences won’t stop. It didn’t in marketing 15 years ago… it won’t stop in HR either. We’re better with the hard sciences than not. Combining what we know… via experience, intuition, anecdotal, etc, WITH mastery of the hard sciences, we, as HR professionals, would be unstoppable.

Think of it like this… what if next year you attended a SHRM conference and had the option of concurrent sessions like:

  • The FUNdamentals of HR Math
  • Talent and Engineering… Kissing Cousins?
  • My Programmer Runs HR
  • Internships… Quantifying the Petri Dish

You get the point… hell, you’re probably eating fusion food while you read this post. You get it… blend HR with STEM, make STEM relevant to the world we already know.

And, btw, taking a random community college courses won’t really fix the dilemma we all face. That might be good for you, but it doesn’t really help us. You self-centered bastard… okay, that was a bit harsh. Anyhoo.

We need to undergo an augmentation… a procedure of sorts. I think it starts with the Body of Knowledge. Continuing education credits equals cat nip. Everyone cares about getting HRCI credit hours… as well they should. If we can add STEM to that… it will proliferate everywhere else… towards academia and towards the front line of HR.

Smart people work for SHRM and HRCI. That’s a given. I’m also a homer when it comes to these organizations. You should be as well.

I don’t even know how we would go about changing the Body of Knowledge but I make this pledge to you. If 1000 people sign (via comments below) this petition… I’ll create a committee and try to bring this initiative to both HRCI and SHRM. If most of you think I’ve taken one too many Ambien… then I won’t. I’ll just quietly be ashamed of our profession… for not having the courage to embrace the hard sciences.

Sign the petition… you don’t have to say anything clever… just say you’re in…

William Tincup
William is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He’s written over 200 HR articles, spoken at over 150 HR & recruiting conferences and he’s conducted over 1000 HR podcasts. William prides himself on being easy to find on The Internet, Google him and connect with him via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email. William serves on the Board of Advisors for Talentegy, Wellocity, GlitchPath, Talent Ninja, Universum Americas, Engagedly, Echovate, VibeCatch, Continu, Hyphen, Bevy, Happie, RolePoint, Causecast, Work4Labs, Talent Tech Labs, and SmartRecruiters. He was previously an advisor to PeopleMatter (sold to Snagajob Q2 2016), Good.Co (sold to StepStone Q1 2016), Smarterer (sold to Pluralsight Q4 2014) and a board member of Chequed (merged to create OutMatch Q3 2015). William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.