HR executives and other experts share their views on how the role of Chief Human Resources Officer is taking on greater influence within the C-suite and board.

Global Practice Group Leader Message

Robert Winterhalter, Ph.D.

Global Leader, Human Resources Practice
Managing Partner, Boyden Germany

Countless companies, of all sizes and across all industries, are undergoing major transformations to manage new demands and prepare for the future. Organizations that do not keep up will become less relevant or wield less influence, in turn losing their ability to both retain and attract talent.

In order to survive and prosper amid the changes brought on by new technology and shifting perceptions surrounding the workforce, companies need to evolve their approaches to the board and management, strategy, utilization of technology, and global workforce alignment, training and hiring.

Organizations in consumer/retail, industrial, financial services, healthcare & life sciences, energy and mining, and technology need to focus leadership and the greater global team on the evolution of the modern company. A key driver of these transformations is often the Chief Human Resources Officer or senior HR executives, who are increasingly becoming part of the C-Suite and members of the board. While their positions and influence differ related to various regional and organizational factors, these executives all have a crucial role to play.

Therefore, in developing our second annual Boyden Senior Executive Survey with our partners, clients and industry colleagues, we agreed to focus on the views of CHROs, who often serve as the most important change agents steering management and global teams. Some of the survey results may surprise you.

We surveyed a global panel of 310 CHROs, senior HR executives and other HR decision makers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom and United States. Guided by key changes companies will face in the coming years, our findings will be released in three parts: Impact of AI and Technology; The CHRO Role in the C-Suite & Board; and Diversity of People and Thought.

It’s important to note that while the survey data include only HR leadership, the commentators who provided analysis of our findings included a wide swath of executives including chairmen, non-executive board members, chief marketing officers, chief digital officers, country managers and others.

In Part 1 of the report, we focused on the transformative power of technology and AI. Here, in Part 2, we focus on the impressive rise of the CHRO role within the C-Suite and board. There is agreement on this point – globally 54% of executives said the CHRO is very influential on their organizations’ strategic decisions, and another 41% indicated that they are somewhat influential on these decisions.

My own perspective is that the impact and influence of the CHRO on strategic decision-making depends on their individual personality and skill set. In addition, acceptance by both team members and upper management are key. In reviewing our data, a prominent HR leader added, “The increasing global battle for talent will also help ensure that the role of the HR professional is going to gain importance in the medium term. I hardly see any board meeting conducted without HR topics being discussed. That’s different than 10 years ago.”

We offer our many thanks to our panel of executives who contributed insight for Part 2 of this report, including Shannon DiPietro, Carolyn Hudson, Carolyn Isaacs, Anna Mitchell, Dr. Michael Pütz and Marco Ryan.

There are no simple answers to complex challenges. We hope this report provides useful insights for management teams as they carefully map the future and align their global teams for the next stage of success.

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