The Chief Human Resources Officer

Executive Summary

An Underutilized Resource for Corporate Boards

We firmly believe that Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) represent an untapped resource regarding corporate governance, which could add significant effectiveness to many corporate Boards.

 This view is based on our more than 50 years of combined experience partnering with both public and private organizations in all aspects of Board development, as well as our deep knowledge and experience in all aspects of Human Resources, including the role of the Chief Human Resources Officer. In our opinion, the strongest CHROs, both currently active and those recently retired, by virtue of their strategic view of inter-related issues across the breadth of the enterprise and their deep knowledge and understanding of all aspects of talent would add substantially to the dialogue at the Board level. Outstanding CHROs understand all aspects of how companies work and interact, while often being a key, guiding hand when major transformations are taking place involving all manner of change from significant acquisitions to layoffs. They understand the implications of cultural change and how to keep the company on track to a desired outcome.

This said, superior Human Resources skills alone are not nearly enough to make for a strong Board candidate, while at the same time, not all companies' challenges and priorities would indicate that a CHRO would be the best choice as the next Board member appointed. In addition, there remains a perception among many CEOs and Boards that Human Resources, in general, is not as strong a function as other C-suite roles. There continues to be a lingering widespread view that the "standard" CHRO is simply not strong enough to be considered a strategic contributor, let alone a member of a Board of Directors.

With the above in mind, we noted the significant percentage of CHROs who held or have held Board seats are also Fellows of the National Academy of Human Resources (NAHR). We wondered what was it about these Fellows that got them identified as a candidate and appointed to Board roles, why did the companies select them, and what made them effective Board members?

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