Our Story

The Association's History

Founded over 50 years ago, HR Policy Association has a history of focusing on public policy and HR practice issues important to its members.  The Association’s focus has evolved with members’ needs and interests, leveraging the resources of its expert staff and the membership to provide timely information and advocate on their behalf.  The Association’s story is a work in progress, and its history demonstrates an unwavering commitment to its members and the advancement of the HR profession.

"Our history demonstrates an unwavering commitment to our 
members and the advancement of the HR profession"

The Association was established in 1968, under the name Labor Policy Association, by a small group of top human resource executives from large manufacturing companies.  Its original purpose was to assist those companies in managing their labor relations, the top concern of human resources heads of that period.  Within ten years, under the leadership of founder, Jeffrey C. McGuiness, the Association became a highly respected public policy advocacy organization providing thought leadership in all areas of labor and employee relations public policy issues.  In the decades since, the Association has solidified its role in the Washington, D.C. policy arena through a staff with substantial expertise in those areas.  This has been complemented by drawing upon experts within its member companies who have an understanding of the potential impact of policy changes on their operations and substantial growth in the Association's focus on human resource strategies as its members’ roles have evolved.

Early Years: Public Policy Advocacy on Labor/Employee Relations  In its early years, the Association focused exclusively on public policy issues concerning labor and employee relations.  This included a wide array of topics, including proposals under the federal laws governing labor relations, overtime, employment discrimination, layoff notifications, drug testing protocols, occupational safety and health notification requirements and many others.  In the mid-1990s, as employers shifted their focus to employee involvement and empowerment, the Association was extensively involved in efforts to protect employers’ use of workplace teams and other employee involvement initiatives under the labor laws (the TEAM Act).  It has also consistently brought its expertise to bear on numerous regulatory actions during administrations under both parties, a focus that continues today.  These include the clarification of exemptions under the overtime laws (second Bush administration), strengthening of disability affirmative action requirements for federal contractors (Obama Administration) and joint employer liability under the wage and hour and labor laws (Trump Administration).  

"The Association's story is a work in progress"

Member/Staff Expertise Tapped The Association has long been known for combining the expertise of its staff with that of its member companies to help policymakers shape the nation’s laws through tangible examples.  When President Clinton’s Department of Labor established a Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, Association members (including then-Chairman Howard Knicely of TRW) and staff testified and provided extensive written comments on a broad array of workplace issues that shaped the national debate in that area for years to come.   This established the groundwork for a proactive agenda that continues to advocate policies that provide companies with the necessary flexibility to address the mutual needs of their employees and business strategies.

Peer Networking and Collaboration One of the reasons for the Association’s growth over the years has been its ability to assist its members in forming networks with their peers from other member companies.  A crucial part of this has been the membership meetings, which started in Williamsburg at the very beginning of the Association and continued at that location until the new century.  The annual CHRO Summit, which in recent years (prior to COVID 19) has taken place every spring in Orlando, brings together over 250 CHROs, with a program featuring thought leaders from both the HR profession and the public policy arena.  In the Fall, the Association gathers in Washington, DC, for the Washington Policy Conference.  These two major meetings, plus numerous formal and informal regional gatherings and topical meetings—with many being virtual in recent years—have created a community of HR leaders who have bonded personally and professionally, creating the glue that holds the Association together.

"As CHROs' concerns evolve, we will continue to serve 
Association members well into the future"

Name Change and Expansion of Policy Focus  In the early 2000s, again reflecting our members’ perspectives, we changed our name to the HR Policy Association.  Our purview expanded to include issues arising in two areas of critical concern to senior HR executives—executive compensation and health care.  

Following the dot.com bust at the turn of the century, corporate executive compensation policies and practices were scrutinized by policymakers and investors alike, and executive compensation and related governance practices went through a transformational period.  Pay was more closely aligned with financial performance and the process for establishing executive compensation formalized.  The Center On Executive Compensation was established in 2008 to help CHROs and their teams learn about and contribute to leading executive compensation practices.  It played a significant role on regulatory issues such as say on pay, the implementation of the Dodd-Frank pay ratio, and proxy advisory firm oversight, and it continues to provide curated content and best practice advice to the Center’s members.  Serving the Association’s advocacy function, it has also served as a voice of reason in an area of public policy that easily lends itself to unintended consequences.

In the area of health care policy, the Association provides thought leadership to policymakers through its American Health Policy Institute, which provides research and analysis regarding the impact of proposed and existing public policies on employment-based health benefits.  The Association has also spearheaded collaborative efforts by its member companies to improve the costs and quality of their own programs, including Retiree Health Access, involvement in the Mental Health Index, and establishment of the Health Transformation Alliance.

Meanwhile, the Association continues to provide thought leadership on workplace regulation policies through its Future Workplace Policy Council.

Global Expansion  Most HR Policy member companies have a significant global footprint.  In the 2000s, the Association joined forces with a global ally—the EU-based Brussels European Employee Relations Group—to assist its member companies in the challenges they face overseas.  We then assisted in the formation of groups focusing on the Asia-Pacific (APERG) and Latin America (LAMERG).  

By the end of 2021, these various entities had all been incorporated within HR Policy Association as part of HR Policy Global.  HR Policy Global provides information updates on developing labor and HR practice and policy issues in major economies across the globe.  

Strong Governance  Throughout its history, the governance of the Association has been provided through a Board of Directors composed of some of the most distinguished human resource leaders from corporate America.  It has been chaired by individuals at the top of the HR profession, including William Conaty of GE, the late J. Randall MacDonald of IBM, Mirian Graddick-Weir of Merck, and its current chair Pamela O. Kimmet of Manulife Financial Corporation.  Under their leadership, the membership of the Association has grown from under 100 members in its early years to the current number of approximately 400 companies.  

As the concerns of CHROs continue to evolve, the Association’s close alignment with the issues most important to them, while providing information and advocacy that addresses those concerns, will continue to serve Association members well into the future.