Looking to “advance the HR profession,” the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Canada (CPHR Canada) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) have signed a mutual recognition agreement.
CPHR members in good standing can now receive the SHRM designation while members in good standing having the SHRM CP (Certified Professional) and SHRM SCP (Senior Certified Professional) designation can receive the CPHR designation by following an agreed-to pathway.
“Professions are not just domestic, they’re international, and we know with many other professions, it’s important that we broker and partner with professionals around the world, because we have, in many cases, the same themes, same concerns, same issues,” said Anthony Ariganello, CEO of CPHR Canada, which represents 27,000 members across nine provinces and three territories in Canada.
“People who work in the profession are mobile today, much more than ever before, so we shouldn’t think of the profession with borders necessarily — particularly when we’re looking at professions that are... consistently similar.”
These alliances allow for collaboration on various topics — be that research or standards, as well as for mobility of members, he said, “and facilitate that transition without having to go through the whole process again of validation, including exams.”
It’s a first for SHRM, said Alex Alonso, the organization’s chief knowledge officer in Washington, D.C.
The agreement makes sense because it engages in activities that are designed to recognize the competency-based education learning and development of HR professionals, he said.
“Engaging in this mutual recognition relationship with the Canadian association, what we’re doing is really doing our part to ensure that competency-based credentialing is recognized globally, and that’s an important piece in terms of our recognition and our mission to advance the HR profession.”
It’s always good to try and remove administrative barriers to the movement of labour and human capital across borders, said Dionne Pohler, assistant professor at the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto.
“I’m a supporter of any attempts that try to create pathways and frameworks that make it easier or really transparent for how people can do so,” she said.
“Anything where there’s economies of scale that can be created in things like research and… best practices — to the extent that it takes into account differences across context and that kind of thing — that can all be really beneficial.”
And if SHRM is open to pursuing this as a real collaboration, it could also learn from some approaches that are slightly different in Canada, said Pohler.
“Oftentimes, people think about Canada as just sort of another state, but there’s a lot of things that SHRM can learn from CPHR and Canadian HR professionals… and having more people networking and making connections more broadly — that is always a source of innovation and ideas.”
With the mutual recognition agreement (MRA), CPHR members can receive SHRM’s senior designation as that matches up best with the CPHR designation in considering the eligibility and experience requirements, said Alonso.
The mutual recognition is about focusing on the core competencies, he said.
“We recognize that national associations have a better handle on the laws associated with their own country so as long as there’s elements of the law that are reflective of their national regulations and national laws, we don’t focus heavily on varying that. It would be presumptuous on our part to think we could deliver or test content that is associated with laws outside the United States,” said Alonso.
“We partner with associations like the Canadian one to really focus on making sure they include a component of the law, but it’s not us evaluating their laws.”
Joint research is also an important part of the partnership, he said, and two key areas of focus will be the future of work in North America, and the impact of technology and artificial intelligence on the workforce.
Both associations also want to work on establishing a policy framework for matters that resonate in both countries, including increases to minimum wage, the #MeToo movement or lobbying government, said Ariganello.
The two national bodies will also seek to get more involved with the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA).
“We’re going to work at trying to influence that body to be more of a player and take the space for the HR profession, to really own the space globally,” he said.
“That is the federation that we need to look at in terms of establishing standards and directions for the 90-odd bodies that exist under that umbrella.”
Concerns about partnership
However, Pohler has a few concerns about the partnership.
For one, CPHR Canada does not include Ontario, while SHRM ended its relationship with the HR Certification Institute in the U.S. in 2014, meaning there’s not one major designation across both countries, which can limit its effectiveness, she said.
And with no mutual recognition between CPHR and HRPA, that should be a priority, said Pohler, “because there are more Canadians who move between Ontario and the rest of the provinces… (than) across national borders.”
Additionally, SHRM is not a regulatory body, unlike Quebec, while the other CPHR Canada members are pursuing self-regulation, she said.
“That might not be a major constraint but I know that it could be,” said Pohler. “I know that that is one of the reasons why Quebec… became a member association rather than fully within the framework of the exam.”
But this is more of a differentiation or arbitrary distinction, said Alonso.
“We’ve seen scenarios where certain professions police themselves and others don’t. In the United States, there’s just not been a need for the HR profession to be policed the way that other professions might be. Eventually, it is an opportunity that we see as natural progression in terms of professionalization but it’s just not something that’s been called on at this point.”
Ariganello also doesn’t see a challenge with the self-regulation piece as this is very unique to Canada’s professions, he said.
“If a SHRM member decides to get their CPHR, then we would regulate that member and they must abide by our code or any other piece of legislation in place. Similarly, the SHRM body also has a code that their designated members must abide by, even though they do not have legislation. They still, in the simplest form, oversee and regulate the member.”
The Chartered Professional Accountants, for example, have several MRAs with other international accounting bodies and some of them do not have legislation, said Ariganello.
However, they do regulate the member, “so self-regulation doesn’t always mean legislation.”
HRPA in ‘exploratory’ talks
Ontario’s Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) cancelled its membership with the former Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations — now Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) Canada — in 2014, and is not involved with CPHR’s partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
SHRM asked if CPHR Canada wanted to include HRPA, but Ontario did not respond to CPHR’s query about getting involved, said Anthony Ariganello, CEO of CPHR Canada.
“(SHRM) didn’t want to have a separate deal with Ontario and Canada,” he said. “They want to talk countries.”
It’s an area that SHRM views as a future opportunity, said Alex Alonso, the organization’s chief knowledge officer.
“What I’d like to see more than anything else is to have unification of the Canadian associations at some point.”
Since HRPA is the professional regulatory body for HR in Ontario, it operates in accordance with the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2013, said a statement from the organization.
“Therefore, any agreements we might enter into must serve the fulfillment of our statutory objects which are to protect the public through governance and regulation.”
Recently, HRPA and SHRM have “activated exploratory discussions about opportunities for collaboration, but there are no formal plans at this stage,” said HRPA.
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