We’ve all heard complaints from CEOs that Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) aren’t strategic thinkers or that they don’t understand the business. So I was struck by a Harvard Business Review article that blamed CEOs themselves for being distanced from their company’s CHRO and from HR in general. Arguing that it is up to the CEO to raise the status of HR, the article’s authors call for a new core group consisting of CEO, CFO and CHRO. “The result will be a CHRO who is as much a value adder as the CFO,” they say. “Rather than being seen as a supporting player brought in to implement decisions that have already been made, the CHRO will have a central part in corporate decision making and will be properly prepared for that role.”
And a paradox of the strange times we are living through is that corporate decision making is increasingly focused on people issues, even while digital technologies are transforming the workplace. As a PwC’s report has noted: “Whatever technological innovations are ahead, it’s the people that will make the difference between eventual success and failure. That’s why CEOs need a people strategy for the digital age.” 2
It doesn’t look as if robots will be taking a seat at the top table any time soon – but we’ll be definitely seeing more HR leaders in the C-suite.
20th Annual Global CEO Survey, PwC, 2017