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HR professionals increasingly earning board positions

FTSE 100 CHROs are now increasingly drawn from a professional HR background

HR professionals are increasingly earning places at the top tables of large companies, according to research from KPMG.

The firm analysed the chief HR officer (CHRO) role in FTSE 100-listed companies over a five-year period, from September 2011 to September 2016. It found that CHROs are now increasingly drawn from a professional HR background, rising from 69% in 2011 to 80% in 2016.

The research also found that experience of more than one sector is increasingly valued; 82% of CHROs in 2016 had worked in more than one sector compared with 70% in 2011.

Tim Payne, head of the UK people and change practice at KPMG, confirmed that senior HR leaders are increasingly valued at board level.

“The days of begging for a place at the top table are over for those operating at the highest levels of the HR profession,” he said. “CHROs are highly valued by board members, CEOs and executive committee colleagues as they grapple with myriad people-related challenges.”

However, he warned that many in HR still don't fully understand the CHRO role. “It’s not what most people think it is,” he told HR magazine. “We need to think about how we raise the next generation of great CHROs, and if we are doing the right things to encourage high-potential successors.”

The report also found that the majority (56%) of CHROs in post in 2016 were recruited externally rather than promoted from within, up from 50% in 2011.

This suggests they're being recruited to bring a different perspective to a firm, said Payne. “The fact we are increasingly seeing CHROs recruited externally, with a higher proportion having multi-sector experience, supports anecdotal evidence that those at the top of the profession are increasingly viewed as a catalyst for change,” he said.

“Our research reveals a picture of CHROs increasingly at the forefront of business, spanning investor relations, regulation, executive compensation, succession, culture, workforce management and HR technology – it is a hugely broad and deep agenda,” he said.