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How CHROs are rising to meet the needs of a changing workforce

August 1, 2022, 12:51 PM UTC
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Once viewed as a back-office role relegated to dealing with menial people matters, HR executives are now strategy-driving business leaders, and have wide latitude in all areas of a company—from the board to employees, and even external stakeholders. 
Courtneyk—Getty Images

Good morning and welcome to the first issue of CHRO Daily! 

I’m Amber Burton and I’ll be popping into your inbox every weekday to share the latest in HR and management news. 

If my background in covering the workplace, management, and diversity has taught me anything, it’s that the role of people leaders has changed dramatically. Once viewed as a back-office role relegated to dealing with menial people matters, HR executives are now strategy-driving business leaders, and have wide latitude in all areas of a company—from the board to employees, and even external stakeholders. 

In speaking with CHROs and CDOs, I have the privilege of hearing about their most pressing priorities first-hand. Case in point: figuring out how to smartly lead compensation planning amid economic uncertainty or how to retain underrepresented employees during a hiring freeze. 

With that in mind, Fortune saw a clear opportunity to provide a place for HR executives to share and learn how to effectively navigate and grasp their rapidly changing roles. CHRO Daily will provide the latest news, trends, insights, and data to current and aspiring CHROs, CPOs, and CDOs. This is your one-stop shop to learn how your peers are innovating and tackling the greatest challenges of the current and future workforce. 

Today’s talent market presents an intriguing snapshot of corporate America and the people who keep it running. At first blush, it appears that employees are in the driver’s seat due to the labor shortage, and in many industries, they’re exercising their newfound agency. That power shift could soon swing in the opposite direction and is already occurring in sectors like tech. HR heads—at least the forward-thinking ones—must steer through the heady, ever-shifting talent revolution while managing operational changes, strengthening employee engagement and culture, and maintaining employer brand competitiveness. Much of this must now be performed virtually and asynchronously, adding yet another layer of complexity.

Yet the role of a CHRO is a subtly powerful one. People leaders mold and shape the most fundamental aspects of any company: talent and culture. When done right, companies see swift change and positive results. But when done wrong, companies can implode. 

I’ve spent my first two weeks at Fortune speaking with CPOs and CDOs at various Fortune 500 companies and they’ve surfaced a few recurring questions: How do we retain highly skilled talent in today’s competitive job market? How do we fix the talent pipeline to boost diversity at all levels in the workplace? And perhaps most urgent, how do we accommodate the rising expectations employees have of their employers? The solutions are as varied as the questions, resulting in a plethora of case studies for their peers to share and explore. 

I’ve identified four major priorities for today’s HR executives that I’ll explore in forthcoming newsletters: talent strategy, benefits, diversity and inclusion and the evolving role of HR. 

My goal is to provide leaders with the insights and analyses needed to successfully grasp an increasingly complex and challenging talent landscape.  

Follow along and forward this email to a friend or a colleague so they can subscribe. 

I want to hear from you! What are the biggest HR challenges and priorities today? Reach out to me at amber.burton@fortune.com. I’m hosting 15-minute desksides with HR and DEI executives. You could see your response in a future newsletter.

Amber Burton
amber.burton@fortune.com
@amberbburton

Reporter’s Notebook

Last week, I guest wrote a story for Fortune's sister newsletter the Broadsheet, detailing potential pay equity pitfalls as employees negotiate raises to offset inflation. In recent months, leaders have doubled down on more consistent pay assessments and providing extra perks to ensure that female employees don’t inadvertently fall behind. One strategy that stands out to me is Cisco’s. Here’s the software giant’s approach to maintaining fair and equitable pay for women:

“Over the years, we have steadily improved our methodology and raised the bar on ourselves to ensure our statistical pay differences are negligible. This past year, we also added intersectional analysis to ensure that pay for minority women is fair relative to white men (for U.S. employees only at this point, but could expand as we get race/ethnicity data outside the U.S).

Beyond our annual base pay assessments, we have also expanded our pay fairness analysis to include additional forms of compensation in our annual rewards programs, including bonus, stock and promotion fairness. We have also been investing by increasing the hiring pay levels among our more junior employees, ensuring our minimum pay levels are well above competitive norms in all of our markets. While this effort is not specific to gender or ethnicity, we do know that women make up a higher percentage of our individual contributor roles so are benefiting from this investment.”

—Claire Gray, VP of human resources compensation at Cisco

Around the Table

- Employment costs rose in the second quarter with the Economic Cost Index up 5.1%. MarketWatch

- Nike will release representation data on the hiring and promotion rates of underrepresented employees, following pressure from activist investors. Bloomberg

- A study by people intelligence firm Altrata found that having a woman as CEO or board chair has a trickle down effect on representation throughout a company. CNBC

- There’s a reason why your managers are still holding tight to the 90-day rule. Wall Street Journal

- Up for review: Are the current layoffs jeopardizing your diversity efforts? Harvard Business Review

Roll Call

The latest in HR executive moves. 

Warner Bros Discovery appointed Asif Sadiq as its chief global diversity, equity and inclusion officer. Fannie Mae appointed Katie Jones as chief human resources officer. Online video platform Brightcove has hired former CBS Interactive HR head Trisha Stiles as chief people officer. 

Have a move? Let me know: amber.burton@fortune.com

Watercooler

Everything you need to know from Fortune. 

Abortion protection. One of the biggest fears that has emerged among workers is how employers will maintain their privacy if they choose to seek abortion care. It’s a fair concern that corporate America is still hammering out, but experts offer some useful advice: ensure that only a limited number of HR and legal employees have access to protected health information to cut down on the possibility of antiabortion whistleblowers. —Paige McGlauflin 

Big raises go bust. Goldman Sachs predicts wage growth will slow to around 4.5% on a year-over-year basis during the second half of the year. One indicator that pay increases are waning is that corporate leaders seem less enthusiastic about throwing money at the problem of lagging hires. —Megan Leonhardt

Mum’s the word. The overturn of Roe v. Wade has been an interesting case study in CEO activism. While companies are taking action to preserve access to abortion care, most CEOs have remained publicly quiet on the issue. Only about 10% of companies have made a public statement regarding the issue, although 51% have made, or plan to make, an internal response, according to a recent Conference Board survey. —Alan Murray

Tune in. Fortune CEO Alan Murray and senior editor Ellen McGirt spoke with Arianna Huffington and Tony Bates about workforce wellness and the benefits of empathetic leadership in the most recent episode of the Leadership Next podcast. The two leaders also shared how their companies’ partnership is helping to reduce stress in call centers before it affects worker productivity. Here’s a hint—it involves A.I. Listen time: 31 minutes.

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.