The HR Sorority Sister

As a Human Resource professional I have to wear a lot of hats, juggle tasks, be a master planner and strategist, and always keep a smiling face.  Living in a Norman, Oklahoma, a university town, I was reminded of the similarities between my role as an HR Professional and a sorority sister during rush week while driving through campus on my way to meet a friend for morning coffee.  At the University of Oklahoma, sorority row was full of girls dressed in matching outfits and ribbons with smiling faces ready to greet and meet prospective sisters, develop relationships, and grow their clubs.

The HR Sorority Sister

The business of sorority is a cut throat.  It is more than hair curlers and matching jackets.  The tools the Greek system teaches these future professionals translates very well in the business and corporate world.  On the surface, sororities can appear catty and superficial but if you take the time to look beneath the surface, there is great value in what it means to be a sorority sister.

  • Putting on a good face. Regardless of the situation or question thrown my way, I must maintain my composure.  It’s important to maintain in control and calm whether I’m meeting with leaders to discuss a reduction in force or later having a difficult conversation with the company employee to deliver the news.
  • Being a good sister. It is extremely important to mentor and coach your peers, those that you supervise, and others around you.  The HR role is more than the flip flop police.  You are a business partner and consultant whose perspective and advice can be a game changer.
  • Playing well with others. As a company leader, you must learn how to play the game and pick your battles to fight.  The power of suggestion in the HR Role is extremely important.  Sorority sisters must not only work with those within their sorority but within the Greek system and the university.
  • Understanding and overcoming stereotypes. Human Resources isn’t just about hiring and firing.  It is about strategic planning, training and development, and involving yourself in the business of the business.  Fraternity brothers and sorority sisters deal with overcoming being labeled the jock or Barbie some better than others.  We all have our assumptions and must learn to work within the system to overcome these generalizations.

***On a side note, you might be wondering if I was a “sorority sister.”  I was not.  I proudly touted myself as a GDI during my college experience at Kansas State University.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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