Celebrate 60-Chicago SHRM Retrospective: The 1990’s

In celebration of Chicago SHRM turning 60, each month we will highlight a different decade of HR to discuss the impact on HR practice today (and over the years) and future.  This month we are proud to look back to the 1990’s through the eyes of Lewis Jacobson, past president in 1989.

Can you share some reminiscences that provide a glimpse into what the organization was like when you were president?

I joined Chicago SHRM in 1984 – following, and due to – my great experience with the national convention in Chicago that was hosted by our chapter. The organization was then known as ASPA, the American Society of Personnel Administrators. After being involved for several years, I became President in 1989.

HR was then known as Personnel and was primarily concerned with administration, hiring, discipline, firing, personnel records, communication and rules. Most records were on paper, with some data maintained on the payroll system as payroll and finance controlled the mainframe computer or outside computer resources.

Can you share an anecdote to provide a snapshot of the times — styles, trends, how the members interacted, any significant achievements or unique events?

Two major trends were initiating around the time I was President of the Chapter; and they continue today. The first was increasing computerization and the second was the evolution of HR from administration to a professional business discipline. The second was in part facilitated by the first.

Regarding computerization, department sized systems were being introduced (IBM AT) which, of course, are now replaced by PC’s and tablets. Also, many service firms were created to provide specific HR services on a shared, mass computer basis.

At the national organization level, ASPA changed its name to SHRM reflecting the new professionalization. It also sponsored the development of HRCI. Fran Gauer, a past chapter President, was very involved with the development of HRCI, and served on its Board and as President.

At the local level, we changed our name to SHRP, substituting “Professionals” for “Management” as used by SHRM. This reflected our desire to be more inclusive and reflecting the trend that more HR professionals would in the future be employed in vendor firms as more HR administration becomes outsourced.

Also, our chapter had been administered on a local basis with only the assistance of an event planner for handling the monthly luncheon meeting arrangements. To our great benefit, we hired Kim Miggenburg and her firm GSS to provide professional business services, which she continues to do to this day.  Lyndy Nierman, a past President of the chapter deserves the congratulations for finding Kim and her firm.

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