CHRO COVID-19 Action Recording: Return to the Workplace Planning with former CHRO Kurt Fischer - 9/11/20


In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help HR leaders navigate this unpredictable time.

On i4cp’s September 11, 2020 CHRO/HR Strategy COVID-19 Response series call, HR leaders from a wide range of organizations were joined by special guest Kurt Fischer, who is Chair of i4cp's Chief Human Resources Officer Board, and the former CHRO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, former SVP of HR at Corning, Inc., and former VP of HR and Communications at Quest Diagnostics. He was interviewed by i4cp Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:

The purpose and benefits of i4cp's CHRO Board. i4cp’s executive Boards bring together research and forward-thinking leaders to discuss, debate, collaborate, and anticipate trends and next practices in HR in order to make more informed business decisions. The Chief HR Officer Board is reserved exclusively for the senior-most HR executive in organizations. It is designed to serve as a true Board of Directors for the function and ensure its members are in the driver seat of organizational innovation. Fischer also noted the strong networking value the board provides, which affords top HR executives the chance to both share insights and commiserate on and problem solve challenges. Board members also help guide i4cp's future research. And small working groups form on specific topics, e.g., a current group focused on the future of work, given the lessons learned from the past six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of the SEC's recent ruling on human capital disclosures. In late August the Securities and Exchange Commissioned (SEC) issued a final ruling that had been in the works for some time, requiring organizations to disclose human capital metrics that are material to the business, specifically calling out the areas of attraction, development, and retention of employees. When participants on the call were asked to what extent this new ruling had captured the attention of their organization's executive leadership, only 15% said it had to a moderate or high extent. Kevin Oakes, i4cp's CEO and Co-Founder, indicated this would change soon as requirements and best practices around the new ruling start to solidify, since clearly for many companies their talent are extremely material to their business success. In short, as Kevin Martin noted, talent risk is business risk, so HR and other leaders should expect various talent metrics to become reporting requirements going forward.

Advice for new Chief HR Officers. Now retired from his role as a CHRO, Fischer frequently advises individuals who are new in the role. He said it is important to quickly meet with each business division's leaders to understand the business at a deep level: what are their challenges, where can HR help, etc. It is also critical to help the CEO get alignment between different leadership team members. Fischer noted the five domains that i4cp focuses its research on: market, strategy, culture, leadership, and talent, and how HR functions need to have a strategy in each area. And he said he advises new CHROs to leverage people analytics, especially around culture and risks related to culture, so they are ready to report to their company's board. In particular, it is important to stay aligned in this regard with the CEO, so that a consistent message is presented.

What are the top budget areas for HR for the next fiscal year? We asked participants on the call which three, from a list of practices or disciplines within HR, are they planning to allocate the most budget to in the next fiscal year. No single response garnered more than 50% of the vote, but three areas tied for first place with 47% each:


  • Diversity/Equity/Inclusion
  • Wellness/well-being
  • Leadership development

Several on the call noted that these three are closely tied together in that they all impact and are a part of corporate culture, an area of increased interest from CEOs, corporate boards, and likely via its new ruling, now the SEC as well. The next highest vote tally was for talent acquisition, followed by learning and development, total rewards, people analytics, performance management, and then succession planning.

In addition to this recording, please see the the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center for new research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.



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