Good Afternoon 2021 AHRMA Members and Guests,
On behalf of the HR professionals who join me on the AHRMA Board of Directors, I send you greetings and wishes for a cooler and less humid start to your work week! I cannot believe that we have already seen half of 2021 vanish before our eyes! What seemed like a nightmare experience that might never end, brought on by the introduction of a virus that none of us knew or understood last year, has transitioned into a time where we are now going back to work in offices and returning to some sort of normalcy in our lives. Looking back over the past 18 months has been scary and sobering, but I am proud to say that the state of the Austin Human Resource Management Association is good. We are prepared and ready to assist our members in being trusted advisors and leaders in our workplaces as we help our employers navigate through many complicated post-pandemic employment issues.
Welcome back to our offices. It’s great to see staff and hear voices in the office again. Many if not most of you have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to help your employers navigate the uncertain terrain related to a global pandemic. COVID positivity rates continue to decline. Currently, the average positivity rate in Texas is 2.8%. Some counties are experiencing lower or higher rates. To check positivity rates in any Texas county go to the COVID ActNow website. Forty-four percent of Texans over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of the vaccine. COVID related hospitalizations are way down. Everything is headed in the right direction.
I am happy to report that we all were able to participate in the first Juneteenth as an official federal holiday this past week. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth has been a holiday in Texas for over 40 years. Last week, Congress passed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday and it was signed into law by President Biden.
Juneteenth is a time to recognize a historic event, and reflect on the past as we demand equity for all. At AHRMA, one of our core principles as a human resource professional association is to promote the equal rights and equitable treatment of people of color. We align firmly with people of color and recognize the additional risk of harm or death that racism brings to your lives. We pledge to remain vigilant in our commitment to eliminate discrimination and all unjust treatment in our community. We also pledge to examine how we, as the leading HR professional association can continue to reflect anti-racism in our priorities, services, and operations.
The Board of Directors for AHRMA remain committed to continuing to provide the highest quality educational programming and networking opportunities for all HR professionals in the Greater Austin community. As we continue to look ahead to the 2nd half of 2021, we are excited to be able to again offer an in-person Annual Conference on Friday, August 6, 2021, at the Norris Conference Center. As a result of improving health issues in the area, we are able to increase the maximum capacity for this event and offer the opportunity to show up and learn together to more of our members. We have a great line-up of speakers planned for this event, headlined by Emily M. Dickens, J.D., Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary at SHRM. Be sure to check the AHRMA website for more details and registration instructions.
Last December when I was inducted to be President of this Association, I issued a challenged to all of us, a "dare" to be more, do more, enjoy more, love more, learn more and advocate more. As we continue to emerge from the events that affected us all over the past 18 months, I reassert my challenge now greater than ever. I dare you...what is your plan to challenge societal norms, to challenge yourself and your organization in these remaining months of 2021 to do more, to serve more, to push for a better world, and a better workplace? What will YOU do for such a time as this?
I remain humbly and professionally yours,
Brian S. Hayes, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
Chapter President, Austin SHRM 2021