So this is what I mean when I talk about a

wake-up call for the Human Resources function

. I just happened to notice that the SHRM, agruably the largest and most influential HR professional body around, is holding its

annual conference next week in San Diego

.(This amused me as the protagonists of my book,

CSR for HR

, also attend a conference in San Diego). I looked through the

96 page brochure of the conference

. Of the 150 concurrent sessions, there is not one single session which covers the role of the HR Manager in partnering and advancing Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability. There is all the same old stuff we have come to expect from HR conferences – how to engage your employees, how to manage mergers and acquisitions, how to train better, how to communicate better, familiarity with employment law, attracting and retaining talent, carrots, sticks, leadership and the whole HR mantra … more and more  and more of the same old boring stuff that I can’t imagine sitting listening to that  for three days. (Good job I won’t be, haha). About the only thing that comes marginally close is a session by Dave and Wendy Ulrich called

” The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Deliver Value To Employees, Customers, Investors, And Communities.”The Why of Work

is the title of the Ulrich couple’s new book which I have almost finished reading and will review in due course. This session at least shows evidence of a certain level of stakeholder thinking. There is one other session called Ethical Leadership, by a former Wal-Mart exec, which talks about “

how vision, culture, dedication, commitment, passion, excellence, execution, and leadership all converged to build one of the largest, fastest growing businesses in history, and how these values can align, direct and sustain organizations of any size.

 ” That’s a lot to cover in 75 minutes – hope he doesn’t forget the ethics part.

This agenda of the SHRM conference is a big disappointment. It says to me that HR is remaining in its inferiority-complex-driven themes of professional legitimization, fixing employees, and never letting them go. Dear HR colleagues:

or there will not be a sustainable world for you to wake up in, when you eventually decide to.

Debbie Carter