Friday, December 11, 2009

The Face of Chief HR Officers

Countless articles have been written regarding the continual transformation of the Human Resources function from an administrative and tactical focus to more strategic and business focused activities. One of the leading experts on the HR function and in particular on the role of the Chief Human Resource Officer is Professor Patrick Wright from Cornell University. In a recent research brief Professor Wright describes in detail the makeup and characteristics of the CHRO's of the Fortune 100 companies. Some of the most interesting findings from his research include:
  • Majority (Over 50%) of CHRO's are new to the job having been in the role three years or less
  • Median Age - 53 years old
  • 44% Female 
  • 56% Male
  • 88% Caucasian
  • 7% African American
  • 58% have at least one graduate degree
  • 1/3 of CHRO'S were external hires
  • Some CHRO's are promoted internally from another business function
Aspiring CHRO's should take note of these demographics and forecast the future trends in the skill sets and requirements to reach that level. The overwhelming necessity of business knowledge and acumen coupled with the ability to drive strategic HR systems are key characteristics of the modern CHRO. Traditionally, the Chief Human Resource Officer has not been considered part of a CEO succession plan. It is likely as the function continues to progress and develop and the caliber of CHRO's continues to increase that those type of transitions will become more common. When that moment occurs it will be a watershed moment for the HR profession and the ultimate validation of the strategic value and utility.

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