The passage of the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2013, is certainly a milestone event, but it is not the end of the journey. The journey is the professionalization of the Human Resources profession, and there is still a lot of work to be done here. But before we move on to the next challenge, let’s take a look at how our new Act will support the profession in its professionalization journey.
It is said that self-regulation is a privilege. What is meant by that is that professional regulation is one of the few areas where the government will delegate regulatory powers to the group under regulation. Indeed, the government trusts that the professions will regulate their members effectively and in the public interest. The government trusts that, in matters of regulation, the professions will set aside their self-interest and act in the greater public interest. The reason why the government puts such trust in the professions is that they are… professional.
Not that the government had not trusted HRPA in the past—the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario Act, 1990, already delegated significant regulatory powers to HRPA. That being said, our new Act brings this trust to a new level. The new Act puts HR professionals in the Tier 1 of professions in Ontario. (A quick way of defining Tier 1 professions is to think of those professions which are subject to the Fair Access to regulated Professions and Compulsory Trade Act, 2006.)
Being a professional is in great part a matter of self-concept which, in turn, drives attitudes and behaviour.
More than anything else, the new Act is an enabler, catalyst, or precipitating event—in and of itself, our new Act will not change much, it will not change the perceptions that HR professionals have of themselves or the perceptions that the public might have of HR professionals. It is more in what our new Act might enable, catalyse, or precipitate. Looking back, we might find that our new Act turned out to be a tipping point—to us the term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” Our new Act has the potential to become a real tipping point in the professionalization of HR. Our new Act may well turn out to be the moment of critical mass, threshold, or boiling point that will lead an increasing number of HR professionals to move their self-concept in the direction of increased professionalism.