Focus on board at CCHRA
Executive Director, CCHRA
In 2011, the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) continued its emphasis on building a robust foundation on which to grow through board governance and board structure, says Bill Palamar, executive director of the Ottawa-based association. As part of that, CCHRA engaged a firm to help with board governance training.
“It’s a very innovative program in that it’s web-based and it’s a series of modules that are available 24-7,” he says.
The decision to adopt a new board structure that includes one representative from each province as a board member has definitely helped with collaboration, says Palamar.
“It’s a very strong board, it’s obviously representative by design of the provinces but I think it’s also representative of the profession in general. There’s a really good range of different backgrounds, people working in different sectors, and it’s a very skilled and forward-looking board and a hard-working board.”
Another initiative that continues into 2012 is the development of a professional practice analysis of CCHRA’s body of knowledge so the association can then develop and update required professional capabilities.
“We just wanted to make sure that the body of knowledge and professional capabilities reflected not only the HR profession, where it is now, but also looking into the future,” says Palamar. “That’s a real major undertaking for us.”
The association is also continuing to focus on reinvigorating its government relations committee, he says.
“One of the key goals of this is to be a trusted advisor to the federal government, just so we can ensure that all of the national employment-related legislation is appropriate and workable and can be understood and supported by HR professionals.”
Activities to this end have included attending conferences and expanding networks.
“This is starting to provide us with a great platform to act as advocates for the HR profession and also to raise the brand of the CCHRA, our member associations and our professional designation,” says Palamar.
To help promote the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation, the association developed a four-page information piece targeting about 200,000 senior HR professionals and business leaders. The centerpiece was a study — commissioned by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in connection with human capital solutions provider Knightsbridge — that looked at the value of HR and the CHRP designation.
“It was a really neat project because it really focused on collaboration with CCHRA and our member associations.”
As for the CHRP qualifying exams, there were 1,275 writers in May and 1,727 writers in October for the National Knowledge Exam (NKE), along with 485 writers in May and 348 writers in October for the National Professional Practice Assessment (NPPA). And since the CCHRA outsourced the administration of the exams, the certification process has gone very well, says Palamar.
“Probably the most significant benefit that this has brought us is both organizations work very closely with and through the standards that are set by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, NCCA, and so, in doing that, it causes us to apply those standards to meet and/or exceed those standards.”
And at the end of February, CCHRA is hosting a strategic planning retreat to discuss a “pretty ambitious” plan — with more details available later in the spring, he says. “We’re really excited about it.”
BC HRMA celebrates 70th year
President BC, HRMA
This is a year of milestones for the British Columbia Human Resources Management Association (BC HRMA) as it celebrates its 70th anniversary and holds its 50th annual conference, according to Mike Cass, president.
It will also be a busy year as the association continues with its 2011 strategic plan that identified three targets: raising the profile of HR in the business community with help from a public relations firm; building business-to-business partnerships across Western Canada; and continuing excellence in CHRP accreditation.
“It really was a tactical board before and, in the last few years, we’ve really focused in on being a truly defined, strategic board and challenging the CEO and our staff to execute the strategies that we’ve agreed on,” says Cass.
The plan also revised BC HRMA’s mandate (to promote and enhance the professional designation and advance member value), vision (to be recognized as the place for leading people practices) and mission (to keep people first in the decisions of leaders).
The overall mandate is quite simple and comparable to other associations — promoting and enhancing the HR profession, says Cass.
“It is a members’ association, I’m a member, and I want to make sure as president of the board and our association in general, we are advancing member value — that’s what it’s all about. In doing so, we make sure all of our strategic initiatives are focused on that.”
One-half of BC HRMA’s more than 5,200 members have the CHRP designation and 500 are in transition to attain the designation, he says.
“We’re trying to drive that part of the membership value to say to others in the industry, ‘The designation doesn’t just mean you get to put letters after your name, it means these people have gone through the rigours of testing and evaluation.’”
Another initiative is debuting in 2012 — a government relations forum series intended to raise the profile of BC HRMA, the CHRP designation and HR professionals and show HR’s impact on the bottom line.
In January, Patrick Bell, B.C.’s minister of jobs, tourism and innovation, visited the association’s Vancouver office to discuss Canada Starts Here: BC’s Jobs Plan with HR professionals and senior operations leaders. And more of those initiatives are in the works.
Also changing is BC HRMA’s approach to professional development as the association works with local universities and colleges so they can be the carriers of the program.
“There’s so much duplication of effort,” says Cass. “Instead of us designing the whole program and facilitating it and providing course material and everything, we would do a lot of the background work and UBC (the University of British Columbia in Vancouver) would market it.”
HRIA boosts collaborative efforts
Executive director, HRIA
In 2012, the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) is moving its offices to a larger space. The change fits nicely with the association’s new strategic direction, which will require additional staff, says Nora Molina, executive director of the Calgary-based association. These include two new senior management positions directly linked to the new vision, a director of external relations and a director of learning and standards.
“It’s also expanding our professional development offerings and working with the structure that we have right now of local regional associations in the major cities and really working and co-ordinating with those groups to increase all of our service offerings to membership throughout the province.”
The new strategic plan, introduced in the fall of 2011, aims to better balance HRIA’s focus on three groups: members, the public and the business community. Currently, HRIA is working on developing the business development plan and government relations plan, she says.
Part of the new direction is pursuing alignment to one association. While the multiple independent HR associations in the province have worked together successfully, it can be difficult when external bodies, such as the media, are looking to talk to someone, or when there are joint initiatives requiring one logo, says Molina.
“There is a need to solidify a single identify for the HR profession.”
The association is also working with a marketing research company to better understand perceptions of the HR profession. A new brand campaign will launch in the spring.
“By and far, the two things that members are really keen on and watching for more of is a move to one association and evolving the existing collaborative model, and we’re working on that, but also looking at really raising the profile of HR, marketing the CHRP designation.”
Last year, HRIA conducted a member survey that provided interesting insights. For example, many members were uncertain about where their membership fees go. While HRIA has provided full financial statements, it’s going to work better at summarizing the information, says Molina.
“It’s important for them to understand and we need to help them understand,” she says. “We’re really looking at streamlining our communication.”
To launch the new strategic plan, HRIA used several different means to get the message out there, travelling to cities across the province, meeting with members and putting together a YouTube video.
Improvement is also needed when it comes to communicating about the importance of member feedback, found the survey.
“When we do make changes or introduce new services, or whatever, it’s important to tell them what’s driving those decisions behind that,” says Molina.
And in response to survey suggestions, HRIA is intending to deliver an HR salary survey by the end of 2012.
“What we’re hearing is a real desire for an Alberta-specific salary survey of the HR profession,” she says, and with more than 5,200 members, the association is in good shape to develop a quality survey that, over time, will become relied upon.
SAHRP adds outreach centres
Nicole Norton Scott
Executive director, SAHRP
Over the last year, Saskatchewan’s economy has continued to strengthen and the province has seen tremendous growth, particularly in the mining and oil and gas sectors.
The Regina-based Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP) has been working with its members to help them manage this growth, says Nicole Norton Scott, executive director and registrar.
“With that growth, there’s opportunities for organizations to focus on the key areas that drive their business, that being human resources… in order to remain competitive in a market that is employee-driven,” she says.
SAHRP has been helping its 1,500 members focus on recruitment, retention, learning and development, succession planning and diversity through programming, networking and sharing best practices, says Norton Scott.
While it already has monthly programs in place in Regina and Saskatoon, last year SAHRP started to expand programming with two new outreach centres in Moose Jaw and Swift Current. And it’s expanding to Yorkton and Prince Albert this year, she says.
The new outreach community in Prince Albert is also engaging in SAHRP’s mentorship program which continues to be a success, says Norton Scott.
“The benefits from the mentorship program aren’t limited to just students,” she says. “As continuous learners, HR professionals have a lot to gain from the relationship as well.”
SAHRP will also be experimenting with webinars this year to reach more members across the province.
“We have members in smaller centres that can’t come into the larger centres for a lunch hour session,” says Norton Scott. “We are looking at different mediums to reach out, one being webinars (because) we have members who can’t always attend but they would like to hear.”
For 2012, the association will continue focusing on the four goals of the strategic plan: learning, innovation and growth, governance and member value.
On the governance side, the structure of the board of directors will be revisited as it’s looking to be a board of governance. The board’s functions will be more strategic and allow the staff to carry out its operational plan, says Norton Scott.
“We’re going into times of change, we’re six years old, our membership has grown a lot over the six years, we’re not continuing to see the growth. However, we’re continuing to see the demand and the need of our members so that they find value.”
The association will also be developing a strategy to survey its members that expands on the annual survey it currently has in place.
Manitoba targets rural members
After a difficult year that saw a complete changeover of staff, the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba (HRMAM) is experiencing a “real resurgence and commitment to the profession,” says president Yvonne Thompson.
The 1,500-member organization, based in Winnipeg, faced some struggles within the last year but it has addressed them and moved forward.
“Whenever an organization has challenges, people have questions but they rally around once they have the answers,” says Thompson.
There were several successes in 2011, including a leadership awards gala that has grown every year since it was introduced one decade ago.
Building on that success in 2012, HRMAM decided it will host a conference every year, rather than every two years, that’s possibly located outside of the capital. There is discussion about moving the event to Brandon every other year.
“We’re trying to engage rural areas,” says Thompson. “It’s important we support all members. We can’t just focus on Winnipeg.”
That job has been made easier by the addition of two new chapters in recent years. Westman covers Brandon, Dauphin and Swan River, while Pembina Valley takes in Morden, Altona, Carman and Winkler.
As well, there are two new members from rural Manitoba on the board of directors.
There is a lot to learn from HR professionals working in places such as Winkler and Morden where there is now a huge initiative to integrate immigrants into the community to support manufacturing, says Thompson.
“We want to learn about what innovative things they’re doing.”
On the learning front, HRMAM hosted a successful executive forum on change initiatives last year with two of Winnipeg’s largest corporations, Manitoba Public Insurance and the Apprenticeship Board of Manitoba.
More than 100 senior leaders in the province attended the event which gave HR professionals a “nice, high-level review,” she says.
HRMAM will be offering workshops this year on everything from inclusive recruitment — finding ways to recruit a more diverse workforce — to certification preparation courses.
The organization is also entering the second year of its professional mentoring program, a formal networking opportunity for members to connect and learn from other HR professionals. The initiative is aimed at people looking to transition into a new field of interest, to take on a new capacity within their organizations or to develop new skills.
This year, HRMAM’s provincial conference in the fall will focus on the idea of “two degrees of separation” and Thompson says she hopes it will reach out to potential new members.
The introduction of a degree requirement for the CHRP designation has stalled membership growth but although the organization hasn’t grown, it hasn’t lost ground either, she says.
There are some financial challenges ahead as well but with a new executive director at the helm, HRMAM will move forward, says Thompson.
“It’s been a good opportunity to reflect and evaluate.”
HRPA focuses on career pathing
In 2011, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) launched a more proactive, more aspirational strategy, says Bill Greenhalgh, CEO of the 19,600-member association based in Toronto. While not fundamentally different from what HRPA had in place before, the new strategy is very member-focused and aims to promote the reputation and credibility of members, he says.
“Any strategy always needs to do things right and needs to do the right things. In the past, we were more focused on building foundation, which is doing things right. We now have got that foundation so we’re less focused on that, although those have to be part of it,” says Greenhalgh. “We’re more focused now on doing the right things that really benefit our members.”
One way of boosting HR professionals’ credibility is by replacing the association’s private act with a new public act that would govern HRPA members in a manner similar to accountants in Ontario, he says.
“The fact of the matter is the act that governs us is from 1990 and the world has changed,” says Greenhalgh. “Back in 1990, the whole idea of workplace safety, diversity, accommodation of disabilities, workplace bullying, harassment, it just didn’t exist (except) maybe conceptually. There are so many new guidelines, laws and legislation that have come in over the last 20 years or so.”
Bill 138, an Act respecting the Human Resources Professionals Association, was introduced in late 2010 and had passed second reading before the legislature adjourned in June 2011. A similar bill — Bill 28 — was introduced in December 2011 and is scheduled to undergo second reading March 1.
HRPA’s strategy also outlines new tools and programs including Career GPS, which helps members with their career paths. Members input their current information and career goals and the tool outlines what development needs and specific training programs would be useful, he says.
“With anybody in any career, they’re always uncertain with how they get to where they want to be and we saw this as a lead,” he says. “I might be at a chapter meeting and talking to someone and ask them, ‘What’s your ambition’ and they say, ‘I’d like to get this job or that job but I just don’t know how to get there.’”
HRPA is also focusing on programs for its junior members. The mentorship program was so successful in the Toronto chapter that it decided to roll it out to the rest of the chapters, says Greenhalgh. It can actually work both ways, with younger members getting career advice from mentors and the mentors learning about new technologies, such as Twitter and Facebook, from their mentees.
An internship program is also in the works to help newer members launch their careers.
“One of the big challenges that many of our new members coming in have is it’s a vicious circle — they don’t have a job so they can’t get experience and if they don’t have experience how do they get a job? So we’ve put together some internship programs… which are really important for some of our junior members.”
HRPA is also revamping its communication strategy. Since people are inundated with emails and they get “email fatigue,” HRPA is going to reorganize its system so members receive emails more relevant to them, says Greenhalgh. HRPA is also expanding its communication activity into social media sites and message boards.
“I was talking to someone who said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a message board or a discussion forum just for people who work in federal industries?’” he said. “So we’re trying to set up these sites for discussion purposes so people can network together in their special interest groups.”
CRHA busy with surveys, codes of conduct
President, executive director, CRHA
Last year was a roller-coaster for business but, by the end, it was going well and Florent Francoeur, president and CEO of l’Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA) in Quebec, is feeling optimistic.
“The association is going well and the HR profession as a whole is going well too.”
For a couple of years, the 8,500-member association has launched marketing and PR campaigns to promote the profession and the importance of the CHRP certification, which will continue in 2012, says Francoeur. (Members of CRHA must have the designation.)
It’s about making sure people are aware of the value of HR and the CHRP by saying, “If you want to be well-protected, if you want to do business with (an HR professional), it should be a CHRP and here’s why,” he says.
CRHA also tracks the results year after year in the business community so it knows the CHRP is increasingly recognized and people appreciate its value, says Francoeur.
The association has also developed codes of conduct — around labour relations and headhunters — and these are meant to be a seal of quality, he says, with diversity and equity on tap for 2012.
“It is another way for us to make sure people are well-served by the profession.”
The association’s new recertification program also takes effect on April 1. CHRP holders will be required to complete 60 hours of learning every three years to keep their certification. Members have been sent plenty of information about the change and they are ready, says Francoeur.
“We have great support from our members, we know that they believe in the development of the profession,” he says. “I would not say ‘enjoying’ but they will appreciate the fact that it is done... to increase the value of the CHRP designation — it’s for them, their business.”
CRHA’s membership currently grows at about four per cent to five per cent each year, but demographics are threatening that growth, says Francoeur. That’s because, in 2014, about 1,000 members will be leaving the profession but only 900 people will be studying HR. So as part of its next strategic plan to launch in March, the Montreal-based association will focus on young people who are choosing their profession.
“We’ll be more and more active at the college level, to clearly attract people, to interest people, students (to) the HR profession… and hope they become a member.”
CRHA has also been busy conducting quarterly Flash surveys among members. So far, the polls have done well in predicting hiring behaviour, says Francoeur.
The association has also conducted surveys covering issues such as vacation time, projected salary increases and absenteeism.
N.B. launches online service
Members of the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick (HRANB) have a new way to market their skills — an online service provider’s guide launched in September.
“While take-up hasn’t been monumental, it has been positive and steady,” says Fran White, president of the 1,000-member association. “So those are our members from across the province who have very specific skills in the field of human resources who wish to advertise those skills over and above the advertisement they get in our HR directory.”
The guide is available only to members, who must log in to access it online. It is useful for members who wish to advertise their services and those looking for an individual with a particular expertise, says White.
“I might avail myself of the online service provider’s guide to be able to take advantage of that rather than looking to find somebody who might know somebody… it expedites the search.”
Last year, the association boosted its outreach activities through presentations at the University of New Brunswick’s College of Extended Learning in Fredericton and its associated community colleges across the province. HRANB held presentations for students in the HR management certificate program regarding the value of joining the association, of human resources and of the CHRP designation, says White.
HRANB also completed the second and third issues of its HR Excellence magazine.
“It’s well-received by our members, the articles are written by members and it’s a good opportunity for individuals to share their knowledge and information, and a great way to get more information out to our membership,” says White.
In June, HRANB finished a review of its strategic plan. It identified the need to consider combining the communications and marketing committees, which have traditionally been separate, says White.
“There is a lot of similarity between them and so we’re looking at what kinds of things should be the focus of the marketing committee and what needs to be the focus of our communications committee and if we need to combine them into one,” she says.
“(We’re) actively looking at what’s the best way for us to maximize our time in those areas and really benefit our members.”
In March, HRANB’s board of directors underwent governance training. It helps the board members determine what kind of board they are — strategic, operational or a combination of both — and better understand specific roles, says White.
“The whole notion of governance from a board’s perspective and participation from a board’s perspective was very different for everybody,” she says. “And while my board is made up of individuals who are very experienced, formal training in the area of governance… is not something most people ever do.”
In 2012, the Moncton-based association will be taking another look at the strategic plan to see if the issues and priorities it had identified are still meeting the needs of its members, says White.
“Are we looking at the right things for 2012 and beyond? Are we OK with the kinds of things that we’ve done in the last couple of years? Are there more things we haven’t identified?” she says.
“We’re an organization that doesn’t just do a plan and shelve it; we’re constantly monitoring our strategic plan and asking questions.”
HRANS heading back to school
The past year has seen many new learning opportunities for HR professionals in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and they can expect to see more in the year ahead. The Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia (HRANS) has focused on members in outlying areas by expanding in-person programming in New Glasgow and the Annapolis Valley.
The 1,100-member organization also stepped up the diversity of the programming by increasing the format, types and number of sessions, as well as introducing additional programs and sessions for CHRP candidates.
Moving ahead, HRANS has entered the second year of a mentorship program launched in 2011 that focuses on HR core competencies based on the Human Resources Body of Knowledge in Canada. The formal program sees mentees work with mentors to develop a learning plan, which they work on together for the following eight months.
“Mentors share their experience, knowledge and expertise to develop the mentee’s skills,” says HRANS president Bruce Snow, adding the program is progressing well with a 90 per cent satisfaction rate at the midway point.
HRANS also saw other successes in learning and development. In May, the organization hosted a conference that featured prominent leaders such as author and consultant Peter Sheahan and Don Bell, co-founder of WestJet, as well as sessions on subjects such as social media, cultural integration and workplace harassment.
After having had conferences every two years, HRANS is moving to one conference every year.
“It provides members and business professionals the opportunity to share, learn and network with their peers and leading speakers on current topics each year,” says Snow.
On another note, HRANS will introduce a member bursary program this year to assist members who find it financially difficult to participate in the organization’s programming.
HRANS is launching a new website to provide better opportunities for increased knowledge and sharing through member-only online networking.
This new feature will “allow members to participate in facilitated online discussions by sharing successes, challenges and ideas with their peers, providing timely input and resources to assist their own organizational activities,” says Snow.
HRANS is also putting more effort into creating opportunities that involve and develop students.
“They are the future HR professionals,” he says.
Youth is a theme in professional development offered to HR professionals as well, with seminars this year on topics such as teamwork across generations and building the next generation of talent.
HRANS will also continue to look for ways to add more programs and services for members working at the senior level.
N.L. looks to partners to grow
The Human Resources Professionals of Newfoundland and Labrador (HRPNL) turned a corner this past year. The St. John’s-based organization moved from being solely volunteer-run to having a part-time paid administrator.
“It’s been a huge hurdle and a lot more work than we thought,” says president Lisa Hollett. “But we’re no longer relying only on the goodwill of volunteers.”
In addition, HRPNL has revamped its website so members can update and renew memberships online, and the association is looking at a partnership with the Human Resources Association of New Brunswick (HRANB) to put out a monthly newsletter.
“We’re looking at ways to partner to see how we can offer more value,” Hollett says.
The association is also adding six events, many of them focused on the changing environment facing HR professionals in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The province is in a period of growth, with many calling St. John’s “the next Fort McMurray,” says Hollett, adding the price of recruiting and retaining good labour is a real issue locally for HR professionals.
“This is a different time for HR here. We’re looking for ways to provide information to members about innovative ideas to address these changes,” she says, noting professional development will cover topics such as HR metrics and the province’s demographics.
HRPNL will also be taking advantage of another partnership by co-hosting events with the Newfoundland and Labrador Employer’s Council.
Challenges include growing the organization and pushing the CHRP designation. Until recently, there’s been little promotion of the CHRP in Newfoundland and Labrador, says Hollett. It’s still a “very rare occurrence” for a job posting in HR to require the designation.
“A lot of that is due to the fact that, until recently, Newfoundland and Labrador was quite isolated (in terms of HR),” she says.
Hollett is hoping to see that change as the organization grows from its current roster of about 160 members.
The association has been targeting students and mid-career, mid-level professionals, but it really needs to focus on high-level HR positions at many of the province’s largest firms, she says.
“We’re going to meet with those folks individually to see what we can offer them,” says Hollett. “They would bring an opportunity to interact and learn, and also bring a legitimacy to the organization.”
There has been an increase in membership in Corner Brook and Labrador City, largely because of an increased number of mining projects in those areas.
But attracting new members is complicated by the fact there is another HR organization — the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA), which has historically attracted HR professionals from the public sector, says Hollett.
Many HR professionals, including Hollett, belong to both which is why the two organizations have discussed partnering on events, although there are no plans to merge, she says.
Payroll focuses on self-service
President & CEO, CPA
Over the past year, the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) has been rewarded for its efforts to understand the profile of its members and provide the education and opportunities they need. According to a member survey, 87 per cent are “very satisfied” with the organization’s benefit to them.
“We’ve obviously got a very engaged membership,” says CPA president Patrick Culhane. “It’s good for payroll as a profession and the CPA as an organization.”
The key, he says, has been responding to that profile. For example, 78 per cent of members are working alone or in a small payroll department, making it difficult to take time for learning and development, found the survey.
The Toronto-based CPA has responded with webinars that hit record levels last year with more than 3,800 participants. The sessions covered everything from regulatory changes, such as those made to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), to dressing for success.
“We keep them to 90 minutes. They’re designed for the quick hitters,” says Culhane.
Attendance also hit record levels at seminars and conferences with more than 800 people attending the annual conference in Edmonton and a five per cent spike in membership to 17,300 members.
“Everything we did came up roses,” he says.
So, where to go in 2012 then? After publishing four payroll guidelines last year, the CPA is looking to create five more this year, on the way to eventually producing a 15- to 20-guide collection.
There will also be more of a focus on self-service as the CPA has taken top questions from its information hotline and turned them into a permanent Q&A section on its website.
“That way, members can find the information they need at their leisure — after we’re closed for the day or when they’re in early in the morning,” says Culhane.
The CPA is also branching beyond immediate payroll members to offer customized sessions for HR professionals through the Human Resources Professionals Association and to accountants through the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada.
The CPA is looking beyond the payroll function to bigger picture issues, says Culhane.
“There’s a lot of concern about the economy of Canada and the world economy,” he says, which is also fuelling an interest in membership and payroll certification.
In 2012, the CPA is anticipating a four per cent increase in membership and a five per cent increase in certification, including the revamped Certified Payroll Manager (CPM) certificate. It was introduced in a pilot program based around university curriculums, but was briefly pulled from the market last year.
“We had the right topics,” says Culhane. “We just needed to adjust the depths. We had to adjust the admission requirements to get the right people into it.”
After making the necessary tweaks, the certification is available for the first full year in 2012.
Culhane is looking forward to the year ahead as the CPA continues to build on the success of last year.
“We’re defining a new profession here,” he says. “It’s been around for 30 years but, in professional terms, that’s young.”
SCNetwork branches out to all leaders
Over the past year, the Strategic Capability Network (SCNetwork) has shifted its focus from predominantly HR to strong leadership across the board.
“There’s a lot of evidence in recent research that the role of the leader is a critical one,” says SCNetwork president Ian Hendry. “We’re becoming an association for leaders who lead people.”
To broaden its appeal, the 600-member organization is making itself more accessible to local communities through initiatives such as webcasting live events and hosting them outside of downtown Toronto.
For example, SCNetwork has staged webcasts from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business campus in Burlington, Ont. and from the Seneca College site in Markham, Ont.
“The challenge for everyone is time,” says Hendry. “We’re trying to get more of a local community involvement.”
While HR professionals are the main participants, the content of the learning and development is changing to focus on leaders generally, whether they’re in HR, marketing, finance or another area within an organization, he says.
This month, for example, the discussion is around people risk and the role of governance.
“This is a much bigger consideration for the organization strategically,” says Hendry. “You have to have the right people in the right place. It’s that type of topic that we will introduce periodically.”
There’s an awareness, highlighted by social media, that people’s networks are broadening and they’re looking for more information, he says. But they still need the “human contact” of their peers and SCNetwork hopes to bridge that gap.
“Yes, you can Google information but you can also network it and get feedback,” says Hendry. “We’ll provide the content for them to chat about.”
The organization is trying to make that content regionally specific in many cases. For example, in the Niagara region, retention is an ongoing struggle, particularly in the service sector.
“We’re looking at the business issue and asking, ‘How do you draw people in and keep them engaged?’” he says.
Aside from sponsored events, SCNetwork has also been successful at building informal networks among leaders. Over time, the goal is to engage more vice-presidents and leaders and to bring in more external groups to examine broader topics, such as the impact of a perilous economy on the people within an organization.
“What happens to the psyche when it’s being eroded? What’s the real impact on the organization?” says Hendry.
Another discussion, in the fall of 2012, will focus on the challenges of innovation.
Although there are other leadership organizations across the country, SCNetwork’s strength is it can translate leadership talk into on-the-ground action, he says.
“Leading edge thinking is important but so is the practical application. Everything we read says leadership is part of it — but the deployment is also part of it,” says Hendry. “We have people in those roles bringing about change and they’re there in the discussion.”