Do we really want to professionalize?
That is a really good question—but there are layers to that question. For some years, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) asked the following question on its annual member survey: ‘Do you agree that the professionalization of HR is, or should be, an important issue for the profession?’ The results appear to show an overwhelming support for the professionalization of HR. But then again, professionalization is not defined in the survey; we really don’t know what respondents have in mind when they think of professionalization. In previous Queen’s IRC articles (Balthazard, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b) we have seen that professionalization is a quid-pro-quo—that is, the profession has to give to get. The get is easy—enhanced status, respect, and remuneration. The give, however, is discussed much less often. Did the survey respondents carefully consider the gives and the gets of professionalization and decide that the net benefit of professionalization was positive before answering the question? Probably not. But this is something that needs to be worked through. If the support for professionalization is simply a reflection of the idea that it would be nice to have more status, respect, and remuneration as HR professionals, then the support may be shallow. If professionalization is sold solely based on its benefits, then there is the danger of feeding into this shallow support. Deep support for professionalization requires that the gives be considered as much as the gets.