Diversity is on the agenda of every conference and leadership meeting. Leaders ask, “How do we improve diversity? How do we find diverse candidates? How do we increase inclusionary behaviors?” The list of questions is endless, and everyone is looking for answers. To solve this riddle, leaders group people into categories in an attempt to understand their experiences. So, we group people together by race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, disability, and so on. Everyone ‘fits’ neatly into one of these categories. Still, notice that we start by trying to simplify identity into a series of checkboxes.

Goodbye Personnel Department! Hello Strategic Business Partner! Gone are the days when HR professionals were only seen as the individuals responsible for hiring, training, terminating, writing and enforcing policies and procedures, and maintaining paper personnel files. Instead, HR professionals are relied upon to think critically and align the HR Department’s goals with the organization’s overall strategy. To begin to transition to the role of strategic business partner, HR professionals must seek to understand how the department’s short and long term goals contribute to the bottom line success of an organization.

Today, I had my last chemo. I’m in treatment for breast cancer. There is no where I’ve been where compassion is as much a part of the workplace as in a cancer infusion center. In a cancer clinic, there is tremendous suffering: painful chemo that takes six hours to deliver; side effects like stomach and muscle spasms; severe radiation burns that postpone treatment. In a cancer clinic, there is also tremendous compassion. Staff help patients pick out a wig, manage side effects with home remedies, and support them when treatments become unbearable.

Over dinner, I asked my friend about how her new job was going. Unfortunately, she responded with a somewhat pained look indicating that “it was a job.” Not nearly the excitement I anticipated considering the new opportunity seemed to have a lot to offer while she was in the interview process. And, she’s not the first person I’ve known to start a new job with much anticipation only to find themselves wondering if they’ve made a huge mistake.

At the KYSHRM Conference, Trasee Whitaker, CHRO for Masonic Communities Kentucky, was named the winner of the 2017 Lyle Hanna Spirit Award for Volunteer Service. In this conversation, Trasee discusses her role as an HR leader and active volunteer, and what it means to be at the pinnacle. HR leaders are playing a significant role in every level of decision making within an organization and influencing innovation and growth. You have a close working relationship with your executive team at Masonic Communities Kentucky. Tell us about how you developed those relationships.

Each year, the Society for Human Resource Management recognizes the highest achievements of the affiliate chapters and state councils in making their workplaces and communities a better place by awarding the Pinnacle Award to the top chapters and state councils. This past year our KYSHRM state council, with the help of the SHRM chapters across the state, embarked on a statewide initiative entitled Bridging the Talent Gap – Kentucky, which began with Louisville SHRM in 2016 which met the criteria for the Advancing the HR Profession criteria.

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Cover Summer 2018


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