Pinnacle Award

2021 Pinnacle Awards
Congratulate this year's winners!
View the official 2021 Pinnacle Awards Compendium
View the official 2021 Pinnacle Awards Video

Award Levels and Categories

Award Levels Award Categories
Small Chapters (10 to 100 members)
  • Serving HR Professionals
  • Advancing the HR Profession
  • Enhancing the SHRM Community
Medium and Large Chapters (101 to 500 members)
  • Serving HR Professionals
  • Advancing the HR Profession
  • Enhancing the SHRM Community
Mega and SuperMega Chapters (500+ members)
  • Serving HR Professionals
  • Advancing the HR Profession
  • Enhancing the SHRM Community
State Councils
  • Serving HR Professionals
  • Advancing the HR Profession
  • Enhancing the SHRM Community

General Information

The SHRM Pinnacle Award Program
is an annual recognition program honoring the highest achievements in affiliate development and contributions that serve HR professionals, advance the HR profession and enhance the SHRM community. SHRM chapters and state councils are encouraged to apply for a Pinnacle Award for innovative projects created and implemented by your SHRM affiliate.

NEW SPECIAL AWARD CATEGORY: 2021 SHRM Workplace Impact Award
Now more than ever, HR has a pivotal role in leading workplace transformation resulting from unprecedented change. To successfully re-envision the future of work, HR is instrumental in creating and implementing strategies to engage untapped talent pools – and SHRM affiliates are taking the lead with local and state-wide initiatives.

This year’s SHRM Pinnacle Award features a special category showcasing affiliate initiatives designed to engage untapped talent. In addition to our twelve annual “traditional” winners, one chapter or state council’s Pinnacle Award entry will be selected to receive the SHRM Workplace Impact Award for a project or initiative undertaken in the “untapped talent” arena.

All SHRM-affiliated chapters and state councils in good standing are eligible to submit their 2021 Pinnacle Award submission for additional Workplace Impact Award consideration. The initiative must focus on engaging untapped talent pools (including, but not limited to, individuals with disabilities, military veterans, individuals with criminal records and the aging workforce.)

SHRM Pinnacle Award/Workplace Impact Award Application Window: June 1 - September 1

Application window closed on September 1


All SHRM-affiliated chapters and state councils in good standing are eligible to submit one nomination for consideration. This single nomination includes any participation in a group or joint application with other chapters or state councils.

Helpful Information

Sample Submission Forms
To get an idea of what a submission looks like, check out these samples.

Sample Submission #1
Sample Submission #2

Previous Winners

Idea Center - Compendiums of Previous Submissions including Award Winners

View executive summaries from previous submissions as your chapter or state council considers embarking on new initiatives.

Application Details

Application Process

The web-based application is separated into sections. Each section must be completed before the application is submitted. For more information, completed submission forms may be found on this page.


• This section is about you and your affiliate.


• The Pinnacle Awards recognize SHRM affiliate programs and initiatives of the highest quality in the award levels and categories described to the right. One winning affiliate’s submission from each of the four award levels will be selected in each category described, with chapter award levels determined by the chapter’s total membership count as of December 31, 2020.

NOTE: For those chapters who submit a joint application, the Award level will be based on the largest chapter’s total membership count as of December 31, 2020. For example, if a small- and large- size chapter submit a joint application, it would be considered in the Medium & Large Award Level. SHRM reserves the right to withhold granting an award in a particular award level/category if all submissions in the level/category fail to meet the required eligibility and program requirements.

• Serving HR Professionals - Excellence in activities that support and promote professionals with HR responsibility to be successful business leaders. Activities may be related to certification, professional learning or skills development.

• Advancing the HR Profession - Excellence in advancing the HR profession by creating awareness of or by supporting key constituents including the workplace, government and regulatory representatives, employers, schools, the media, and the community at large. Activities may be outreach and awareness programs, government or public affairs programs, or programs focused on key issues such as inclusion, diversity, or workforce readiness.

• Enhancing the SHRM Community - Excellence in providing programs and services that support SHRM, meet members’ needs, or further the chapter or state council efforts. Activities may include efforts to foster dual member engagement, retention and acquisition, volunteer development and recognition, or efforts to support the SHRM Foundation.

• In this section, you will be asked to select the category that your submission reflects, as well as your award level, and explain why your submission meets the description provided for that category. Your response in this section is limited to 300 words. A word count feature has been added to the submission form to assist you in creating your response.


• The Executive Summary will serve as an introduction to the application itself and will be used in the Pinnacle Award compendium. Your response in this section is limited to 300 words. Your summary should provide concise information about your chapter’s or state council’s initiative, clearly noting what you set out to do, what you did and how you measured success. Remember, during the judging process, the judges only know what is provided in the submission and have no additional knowledge. Compare this to reviewing a candidate’s resume for an open position in your organization–you make a decision to consider the individual further based on what you see (or don’t see) on the resume. A word count feature has been added to the submission form to assist you in creating your response.


In addition to the Executive Summary, each applicant is expected to respond to a series of seven questions. Your responses in this section are limited to 300 words per question. You must address each question. (Helpful hint: You may wish to type your entry in Microsoft Word to have an accurate word count and to spell check, and then copy and paste the text into the online application and save. Exceeding the word count could impact your submission.

  • Why was the program created?
  • Who participated in the implementation of the program?
  • How as the program implemented?
  • What were the program's goals? Were they met?
  • Was the program effective? Based upon what measurable criteria?
  • Who benefited from your program? How so?
  • What makes your program deserving of a Pinnacle Award?


The Pinnacle Awards reflect the best that the field of human resources has to offer and recognize programs and initiatives of the highest quality. In this section, you will be asked to select the Standard of Excellence that your submission best reflects and explain why it meets that standard. Your response in this section is limited to 200 words.

Standards of Excellence include::

  • An outstanding accomplishment that experts or peers in the human resource field would agree deserves special recognition.
  • A significant technical or professional impact on the human resource profession.
  • A high level of originality or inventiveness that clearly identifies your affiliate as having created an innovative enhancement or solution to a significant issue or problem.
  • Outstanding leadership and coordination of extremely effective activities.
  • A program that produced significant results above and beyond expectations and enabled your affiliate to meet key benchmarks and schedules that otherwise would not have been completed.
  • Improved program, service and product quality, or member satisfaction to a degree that significantly increased membership and revenue and/or reduced costs.
  • A cohesive and innovative utilization of social media to engage members and/or increase participation at the chapter or state council level, in alignment with short- and long-term goal strategies.
  • An important addition or amendment to the SHRM portfolio of programs, products and services.
  • NOTE: It is unlikely that any one program will satisfy every Standard of Excellence mentioned, and some achievements may reflect qualities other than those listed here. The Selection Committee reserves the right to adopt additional criteria agreed upon by all of its members.

Congratulations to our 2020 Pinnacle Award winners!
For more information regarding our award winners and finalists, check out the 2020 Pinnacle Awards Compendiumyou might just see an idea that inspires your affiliate’s own submission for 2021!

View SHRM's 2020 Pinnacle Award Winner Video Testimonials!

Looking for potential Core Leadership Area (CLA) or other initiatives for your affiliate to undertake in 2021 in support of Better Workplaces for a Better World? Interested in hearing from fellow volunteers about their Chapter or State Council's 2020 Pinnacle Award-winning programs - and gain insight on how these initiatives were successfully developed and implemented? Tune in to a new four-part volunteer webinar series to provide you with the information you need!

SHRM Pinnacle Award Volunteer Leader Webinar Series
Session 1: Serving HR Professionals Award Category (hosted 2/10/2021)
Listen Now

Session 2: Advancing the HR Profession Award Category (hosted 2/17/2021)
Listen Now

Session 3: Enhancing the SHRM Community Category (hosted 2/24/2021)
Listen Now

Session 4: Successful Practices for Identifying, Crafting and Submitting Your Own Award-Winning Pinnacle Entry (hosted 3/3/2021)
Listen Now

For more information on the SHRM Pinnacle Awards, including past winners, award eligibility and criteria, visit the VLRC.