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  • Mark Shaw

An Open Letter on the Current Direction of AHRI

At the recent HXM Digital Summit event, Sarah McCann-Bartlett the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Australian Human Resources Institute made the comment that HR Practitioners need to make sure leaders walk the talk on social justice issues because this increases shareholder value.


This statement shocked me.

• Where is the evidence focusing on social justice issues increases shareholder value?

• Is AHRI’s agenda to envision and reshape the strategy of HR towards a focus on social justice issues?

• Is AHRI’s desired outcome to have HR Practitioners focus on Social Justice issues?

• AHRI is owned by its members. Where is the transformational leadership, agreed journey, and the processes where we (HR Practitioners) settled on emphasising the importance of Social Justice issues over other business imperatives?

• Where is the AHRI forum that brings practitioners together to agree that a focus on social justice issues is paramount?


AHRI’s website states

1. It sets the industry standard for HR practitioners in Australia. Is a focus on social justice issues the industry standard?

2. Its highly regarded Awards commend excellence in diversity and inclusion practices. Why is this the goal of such awards rather than (say) ‘demonstrated value adding interventions?’


I raise these questions because a recent email from AHRI promoting an upcoming conference emphasised that “While we often think of gender, age, race and physical disability when discussing diversity, workplaces should also look at intersectionality and understand the range of invisible diversity and disability that may exist among employees.”


Intersectionality and invisible diversity?


AHRI is owned by its members and HR practitioners face many problems in the workplace. Yet our peak body is focusing on social justice issues, intersectionality and invisible diversity. Is this what members want?


As a member of AHRI for 40 years, I am concerned our representative body is currently not representing our best interests. I am concerned the emphasis on social justice issues, intersectionality and invisible diversity is unbalanced when you consider all the other important workplace issues we face every day. I am concerned our peak body is moving in a direction without the support of the owners/members.


The standard we walk past is the standard we accept. Is this the standard AHRI members want from the organisation they own?


In my view, we need to have a conversation about the future direction of our organisation. I am starting this conversation. Please add your views.

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