Making Tough Choices (The Demands of the Job)


“If now isn’t a good time for the truth, I don’t see when we’ll get to it.” ~ Nikki Giovanni


Lately, I’ve been thinking hard about where we are as a country. Also, as a professional.

The current U.S. Republican administration is committing human rights violations at an accelerated rate. They’re building and expanding the use of internment camps to house adults, kids, and babies. This is immoral, and I hope people of good conscious do what they can to fight back against this Republican administration’s abuse of power.

Here’s where my concern as a professional comes in. I work in human resources. My job is to help organizations find, retain, and motivate qualified people to support their efforts. These internment camps are staffed by people. Someone had to hire them. To train them to perform in their roles. To manage their compensation and benefits. That’s my profession–human resources.

In the context of these internment camps, demand for additional personnel is growing due to this administration’s zero tolerance policy. So it’s not just government agencies involved, but private enterprises. Which means that there’s a revenue component to this horror show at work. Violently separating families is good business.

In related news, this past June the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) held its annual national conference. SHRM is the world’s largest human resources organization, with over 200,000 members worldwide. At this year’s event, roughly 20,000 members attended. Based on what I saw on social media, it appeared to be a great event. I saw colleagues joyously connecting with peers, taking in important learning sessions, and having a good time in Chicago.

I’m curious to know: where there any HR reps at SHRM’s conference from the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or other government agencies directly involved in this (racist) zero tolerance policy at the border? What about those for-profit enterprises that have government contracts in connection with these policies? Did they have a good time as well, before heading back into the HR trenches at their respective places of work, assisting in the perpetration of an immoral practice?

We need to be honest: some of us in HR are supporting (through our work) a violent, racist, xenophobic policy, and the administration that’s mandating it. Someone in our profession is hiring, training, and maintaining staff for the purpose of being cruel to fellow human beings.

This post is my imperfect attempt to highlight that these horrors aren’t abstract, and that the people involved are as normal as you or me. You probably know them. They’re your neighbors, family members, or friends. You may have even sat next to them at a SHRM session. In light of what’s happening these days, we all need to think critically about the choices we make, as citizens as well as professionals.

Have a good one, y’all. Here’s to justice, compassion, and humanity.