The CYA Report E62: The SHRM Certification Fiasco

In case you missed it last week, SHRM announced that it’s going to start offering its own certification program to rival the SPHR/PHR. That means their ultimate plan is to make the SPHR/PHR meaningless. Here’s a nice rundown of the announcement from SHRM Members for Transparency, aka SMFT:

“On Monday, May 12th, SHRM announced that it will begin offering its own competency-based certification in mid-2015, after several years of work on its competency model, which was validated by over 30,000 HR professionals around the world.  According to SHRM Board Chair Bette Francis, “SHRM has a responsibility to lead the profession toward a certification process that proves competencies.”  SHRM intends to “transition” those currently HRCI-certified to the new SHRM certification by letting them complete an online educational module and brief online test on HR competencies, followed by the initiation of a new three-year re-certification process.  SHRM will also develop study materials for its own exam.  No mention is made of any eligibility requirements for new examinees.  HRCI is not referenced in any of the SHRM announcements tailored for various audiences.

On Wednesday, May 14th, HRCI announced that SHRM’s announcement would have no impact on any of HRCI’s portfolio of certifications, and that HRCI intends to continue to develop and administer these certifications.  HRCI also disavowed any involvement in the development of the SHRM competency-based certification.”

See my post over at the HR Capitalist entitled “SHRM Likes Money: The Top 9 People SHRM Hurt When They Said Goodbye to HRCI.” for analysis.  Also, see the coverage here, and for other good coverage, check out True Faith HR.

But onto the FOT analysis of SHRM’s announcement to offer their own certification platform to kill HRCI and the SPHR/PHR: Check out our special edition of the FOT podcast below—the CYA Report—where I’m joined by two other certified HR professionals, Tim Sackett and Dawn Burke.  

It’s a lively discussion of the SHRM announcement, including the possibility of HRCI and SHRM strengthening the profession by offering a “Coke vs. Pepsi” choice in certification, the problematic nature of testing “competencies” through multiple choice items and our final call on what we recommend HR pros do when given the choice between HRCI and SHRM for certification.

If you’re certified or interested in certification, it’s a must listen. Podcast appears below (email subscribers, click through to see player and play audio):

 Welcome to The CYA Report, brought to you by and Fistful of Talent. On today’s show we have Tim Sackett, President at HRU Technical Resources, and Dawn Burke, VP of People at Daxko, on SHRM’s Trying To Take Down The HRCI.

Host: Kris Dunn

Producers: Cara Lucas & Julia Lindsey

Music: Price Tag by Jessie J

Can’t see the player below? Click here to listen now.

All episodes available on iTunes [click for archives]

FOT Background Check

Kris Dunn
 Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard the good word, he's also jumped into the RPO game as part owner of a rising shop out of ATL, Kinetix. Not your mama's recruiting process outsourcing, that's for sure... check 'em out.


  1. Laurel says:

    Just a thought regarding your analogy of this as a Tonya Harding–Nancy Kerrigan incident — that SHRM did a Tonya Harding to HRCI. Remember that Tonya Harding was almost immediately discredited, and soon afterward banned from competitive figure skating for life. Nancy Kerrigan was injured for a bit, came back strong and won silver at the Olympics, then went on to a nice lucrative career. Is that HRCI’s future as well?

  2. D. says:

    Great show, all. “If you’re still listening, you’re a nerd.” Yes.

    I was a member of SHRM for ovcr a decade. I was active as a mentor in the SHRM mentoring program. I reviewed a few white papers. I participated for a time on one of the HR Standards panels. And in 2012, for many reasons, I decided that my annual obligatory tithe to SHRM was actually not obligatory and I let my membership lapse.

    I was PHR-certified in 2002, SPHR-certified in 2006, and received California certification in 2007 during the first administration of that exam. I’m a certification junkie. Even so, I know it’s only a test, and the map is never the territory.

    I hope that things will take a turn somewhere so we will see an NCCA ruling on the legitimacy of SHRM as certifying body. And what if that ruling is not favorable? Would SHRM stand down or would SHRM double down, using it’s

    We can quibble about the who-knew-what-whens. Maybe they don’t really matter that much, after all.

    Is there any interpretation of events here, though, other than that SHRM demonstrated an appalling lack of common professional courtesy?

    We should really consider, as a profession, whether we wish to associate with an organization that treats its partners and members like this. This is the kind of nonsense we expect from our worst clients, not from the association which claims to represent us.

    I’d suggest we total up all of the work time certified professionals have spent reading, thinking, talking, and tweeting about this in the past week, and send SHRM a bill.

    SHRM members should demand accountability for the mess their organization has caused. Chances are, they won’t.

    One thing is clear. From first blood in this whole debacle, SHRM has been playing amateurish offense and HRCI has been playing masterful defense.

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