Lessons for #HR from the Convention Floor

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By: Mary Kaylor (@weknownext)

The SHRM Government Affairs and Public Affairs teams took Tampa and Charlotte by storm the past two weeks as they advanced the human resource profession by sponsoring several policy forum events at the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The events attracted policymakers and business leaders from around the country and examined issues important to HR like the skills gap, immigration and workplace flexibility.

While political convention schedules provide plenty of partisan revelry, most convention goers are there to work as well. They attend to network, to learn and to build awareness for their company, cause or issue. Access is key. They want access to the convention hall and to the most popular and well-attended events with the smartest and most influential people. They select the events which hold the most promise and the best audience for accomplishing their goals. And of course they want to have fun, too.

Access to these events is organized by a hierarchy of credentials which are worn around the neck like badges of honor — mostly because of the heavy-duty networking it takes to trade and secure them — and for the envy they incite.

Attracting convention attendees to an event is a lot like attracting talented employees to your organization — and organizations should strive to be the “A-Ticket” event.

It’s about building your culture, your brand and your reputation as an employer. Are your employees excited to be a part of your organization and are their friends envious of their “awesome gig?”  Do the most talented job seekers look to your organization as a highly desired destination? A place where they can make talented contributions, work with other smart people, accomplish their goals, and have some fun, too? Would they trade a salary cut, a shorter commute, or a job title just to be there?

When November 6 rolls around, may the best candidate win.  And when it comes time for prospective job candidates to cast their votes, may the best employers win.

Close Encounters of the BBQ Kind

By: Bill Leonard, SHRM Sr. Writer

I am fairly passionate about my barbeque, like most native North Carolinians. We instinctively know all the best barbeque places in the state and can discuss with vigor the subtleties of sauces and smoking techniques.

But when Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., stepped in front of me in the buffet line for a luncheon event in Charlotte, I didn’t exactly expect it would become an opportunity to discuss the merits of N.C. BBQ. Sen. Hagan was very pressed for time and graciously asked if those of us in line minded if she cut in front of us. We were there to hear her speak, so of course we waved her to the front of the line.

Someone (who wasn’t from N.C.) in line told Sen. Hagan that the lunch buffet included N.C. barbeque. Sorry, but barbeque tepidly “smoked” somewhere in the bowels of a chain hotel in downtown Charlotte just doesn’t qualify as authentic N.C. barbeque. I admit freely that most of us in the Tar Heel state are insufferable barbeque snobs and wouldn’t touch this type of hotel-smoked pork with a 20-foot BBQ fork.

I said something to that effect to Sen. Hagan, as she grabbed a plate for the buffet line. She peered into the serving tray filled with the pork and nodded her head agreeing with me wholeheartedly. “It’s definitely not Lexington,” I said to her, “Or even Stamey’s, from your hometown [Greensboro].”

Sen. Hagan looked at me and smiled. “Looks like you might be right,” she said. “You know, Wilbur’s [Goldsboro] is my favorite.” Now that’s an excellent choice for a favorite N.C. barbeque, and in just those very few words, I understood immediately that the good senator knows her North Carolina BBQ, which certainly boosted my respect for her.

Just moments after our BBQ encounter, Sen. Hagan spoke to the group gathered for the luncheon and demonstrated that her understanding of key workplace issues might just exceed her knowledge of good BBQ. She spoke authoritatively and with passion about her efforts on Capitol Hill to improve work skill development opportunities both locally and nationally.

She said that North Carolina and other states needed an educated and highly trained workforce to be competitive in the global economy. She told the event attendees that workplace flexibility policies go hand-in-hand with training and development initiatives. Because once employers have the skilled workers in place, they need to keep them engaged and on the job. She added that flexible workplace policies are proven to improve both productivity and retention. She urged everyone at the meeting to work with her and other like-minded business and political leaders to increase the nation’s workforce development opportunities and to support workplace flexibility policies.

So in a manner of minutes, I found myself agreeing with a politician twice, which sad to say is much too rare these days.

Immigration Buzz @ The RNC

By: Rebecca Peters, Director & Counsel for Legislative Affairs  
ACIP

We’ve wrapped up our week at the Republican National Convention and have lots of good immigration-related news to share.

As presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in his speech on Thursday night, “We are a nation of immigrants,” so we were encouraged that the GOP included immigration issues in two key sections of their platform, released Tuesday,that address rebuilding the economy and creating jobs, as well as reforming the government to serve the people.

Of most interest, however, the Republicans recognized an advocacy message ACIP has long delivered to Washington, namely that it is “critical the United States has a highly trained and skilled workforce … [including] by a policy of strategic immigration, granting more work visas to holders of advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math from other nations.” Read the GOP platform, including sections that address green cards for STEM advanced degrees, SAVE, E-Verify and border security here.

Mitt Romney wasn’t the only speaker talking about immigration during the Convention – on Wednesday night, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We must continue to welcome the world’s most ambitious people to be a part of us.”

Throughout the week, ACIP’s Lynn Shotwell and Rebecca Peters were on the ground discussing this important message, along with other high-skilled, employment-based immigration solutions at numerous GOP 2012 events.  View photos of some of the events here.

In particular, ACIP had the opportunity to attend the SHRM-sponsored National Journal event titled “Compare the Candidates.” Immigration was a reoccurring theme in the discussion – in an interview between National Journal’s Major Garrett and Dr. Lanchee Chen, Policy Director for Mitt Romney, Chen made clear that should there be a Romney administration, the focus would be on long-term immigration reform off the bat. And while the Romney camp believes President Obama’s recent deferred action policy has put a chilling effect on the broader immigration debate through its focus on politics before policy, Dr. Chen believes “the public is hungry for an immigration solution,” one he believes the government must partner with employers to solve. Watch Lynn Shotwell’s readout afterwards here.

As we repeated throughout the Convention, ACIP stands ready to partner with the government on high-skilled, employment-based immigration solutions this year and with the new Congress in 2013, especially given the bipartisan support for more green cards for foreign-born advanced STEM degrees holders from U.S. universities.

Tune in next week to get ACIP’s immigration policy read out from the Democratic National Convention at: http://haveavoice.shrm.org/conventionhq and follow us on Twitter (@ACIPimmigration) for up to the minute news.