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Top Five Stories

Our editors have selected the top five stories or events covered by Human Resource Executive® during the past 20 years.

Sunday, April 1, 2007
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This is a select list of the top five stories during our 20-year history. Click here to see a complete listing of highlights during the past two decades.

May 1987

"Editor's Letter"

In his editorial for the magazine's inaugural issue, Editor-in-Chief David Shadovitz wrote:

"The role of the human resource executive has taken on new meaning in recent years. Whether the function is labeled personnel, industrial relations or human resources, these executives are becoming more involved in the strategic decision-making process of companies, agencies and institutions.

"Consequently, there's now a greater need for a magazine that specifically addresses the issues and problems that face these executives. Until now, there hasn't been a magazine exclusively for these top human resource decision-makers. Human Resource Executive® has been designed to fill that void."

April 1991

"Eyes on the World"

William Shaw, Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s then-vice president of administration in charge of human resources, reflected on the start of the Persian Gulf War, when the first bombs fell, just before 7 p.m. on Jan. 17, 1991.

He was in the newsroom of the 24-hour Cable News Network (CNN), the Atlanta-based subsidiary of Turner, and it "started going crazy ... . People were really busy. ... They couldn't leave their work stations," he said.

That was just the beginning of the rule bending, schedule shifting and crisis management that quickly became the norm for the 1,600 employees at CNN. As the only network with continual live coverage of Operation Desert Storm, CNN became the envy of rival news teams and the channel watched by the world.

Ratings soared and the station's newfound prominence fueled optimism for expansion throughout the corporation.

January 1997

"Post-Texaco: Lessons on Diversity Training"

In November 1996, Texaco settled a racial-discrimination lawsuit to the tune of $175 million, the largest such settlement in history. The lawsuit, filed by some of Texaco's African-American employees, charged the company with institutionalized racism, such as pay inequities, as well as an atmosphere of humiliation and intimidation for minority employees.

To make matters worse, a taped discussion between company executives surfaced during the court case, exhibiting blatant racist language and the intention to destroy key pieces of evidence.

In our January story, David Tulin, president of Tulin DiversiTeam Associates, a Wyncote, Pa.-based consultant, presented his personal and professional reflections on the issue of diversity training in the aftermath of Texaco.

The settlement has led to many court-mandated changes in the company, including an independent Equality and Fairness Task Force to monitor progress in the area of diversity. (The June 20 cover story of that same year, "Legal Weapons," featured Texaco Chairman Peter Bijur on the cover, in a public apology for the scandal. That story examined how companies are learning -- the hard way -- that training sessions alone can't stop costly discrimination and harassment claims, and posed the question, "Is HR to blame?"

Post-9/11 Coverage

Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, 2001

A special gray box at the top of the Oct. 1, 2001 cover underscored the suddenness and importance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks: "On the Tragedy in America ... As this issue was going to press, news was unfolding about the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington."

Initial coverage of the tragedy and its effect on human resources included a news story as well as an editorial by David Shadovitz. In his words: "For sure, it's a day none of us are likely to forget. As with the Kennedy assassination and the Challenger explosion, our whereabouts when we first heard the news will be forever etched into our memory."

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In our cover story on Oct. 15, "Thinking the Unthinkable," we explored how HR was giving new thought to emergency preparedness and response in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 

While the cover story focused on crisis management and control, employee data retrieval and workplace morale, the editorial by David Shadovitz offered a tribute to the heroism of Alayne Gentul, the senior vice president and director of human resources for Fiduciary Trust International, who stayed behind after the first plane hit the World Trade Center's North Tower to help workers get out of the South Tower before she herself perished in the building's collapse.

The Ongoing Retirement Quandary

March 20, 2002: "Wake-Up Call"

November, 2002: "The Retirement Crisis"

The issue of using company stock in retirement plans grabbed the spotlight in 2001 when executives at Enron Corp. made headlines for corporate fraud as well as for restricting employee retirement plans from selling Enron stock while executives were allowed to cash out their own.

On the heels of that debacle, which eventually led to Enron's bankruptcy, HR executives in our March 20, 2002 story, "Wake-Up Call," re-examined the ethical and legal quandary of offering company stock in 401(k)s.

Later that year, our story, "The Retirement Crisis," examined the events of the prior two years, which had changed the question of "When can I retire?" to "Will I ever be able to?"

The plunging stock market and the concurrent string of corporate scandals erased a total of $101 billion from the nation's 401(k) plans in 2001, while the total value of assets plunged from $1.8 trillion in 1999 to $1.64 trillion. Corporate financial and human resource executives were taking a new look at retirement-plan design, including ways to determine the best mix of defined-contribution and defined-benefit retirement plans, investment options, investment education and administrative expenses.

In response to the situation, frightened workers and others were pushing Congress to pass new retirement regulations, with many in the story questioning whether such efforts would end up doing more harm than good.

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