Presentation of International HR Standards at #HRizon

{Small disclaimer: I sit on the US Advisory Committee for the ISO group… so if my post seems a little exuberant or biased – it is}

The picture you are seeing is Lee Webster (US), Stephanie Jensen (Netherlands) and Izzy Behar (France) getting ready to present at the #HRizon conference about the international standards effort.


1. HR Standards?

When HR standards are mentioned, it often creates a myriad of reactions. The reactions range from:

Nope – can’t do it
HR is too unique to standardize
We don’t have HR Standards yet?

The reality is almost every professional corporate function has standards that guide those functions. Finance has GAAP or IFRS, IT has ITIL, Procurement has Commerce Law, Quality has TQM and Six Sigma. What is interesting is that HR has been around forever, and was formed into a formal corporate function in 1917 – and we still don’t have standards.

2. The International Standards Effort

What is so intriguing to me – is that developing a standard is only partly about the content. I personally have had a tremendous education in how International Standards are developed. International Standards Organization (ISO) has tremendous rules and standards on how standards are created. What is interesting is that ISO will only work with each country’s standards organization. So in the US – it is American National Standards Institute (ANSI). So ANSI, then works with expert organization in the country. So in this case, ANSI is working with SHRM to develop the advisory group.

The other benefit of the ISO process is that it is a true international efforts. It has been amazing to see the process. The US presented a perspective of HR that my readers would understand – how to do the HR function better (e.g. Compensation, Payroll, etc.) – and then Netherlands brought a perspective of sustainable employment to the table and France is focused on Board level governance.

3. What has been done?

This process is not Fast – and that is by design – to make sure international participation and agreement can be reached. So to date – ISO has approved the effort, the scope of the standard has been defined, and a framework has been agreed upon.

4. What is next?

The group is going to start with a couple of efforts:

Working on a Human Governance Standard
Working on the framework
Beginning to do a literature census of the existing international and national HR standards and metrics that already exist.

One of the exciting aspects is that a lot of HR work is occurring around the globe, and we want to make sure that work is incorporated – instead of trying to start from scratch. For instance both the United States and Australia are doing great work on Strategic Workforce Planning – so perhaps the two combined would make a great global approach.

5. So What is Next for you?

Get involved! If you are tired of having the same conversations in HR about what a comp cycle looks like.. or if you are a thought leader on how to advance an area of HR – then you need to get involved!

If you are a HR Service Provider or HR Product company and aren’t involved – then you may be missing out on an opportunity to make your product(s) unique!


6. Reference

Here is the link to learn more about the ISO TC260 effort!


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