How HRDs can enhance influence at board level

By Jenny Roper for HR Magazine

HR directors should network with other people in the business, have a strong financial and broader political understanding, and beware of being too close to their chief executive, according to Helen Pitcher, chairman of Advanced Boardroom Excellence.

Pitcher was giving tips on how HRDs can enhance their influence at board level at an HR in the Boardroom event held at The Dorchester Park Lane and supported by Advanced Boardroom Excellence.

She reported that the key issues currently facing most boards are: long-term sustainability, succession planning, culture and “how a company makes sure everyone is performing in line with those values”, remuneration strategy and diversity.

“In an ideal world boards should be looking to people with HR skills who can contribute to these key areas. In reality they often don’t,” she said. “That’s because HR seems to have developed a language of its own, which is not always the language of the business.”

She added: “I have heard many people say that the quality of HR professionals is woeful. Fortunately I have also met some very good HRDs who speak the language of the business and understand the drivers going on in the organisation.”

Pitcher said in order to better assist their boards, HRDs shouldn’t be afraid of asking “daft questions” during their first few months on a board, because chances are there will be others wondering the same thing.

She said that being too close to the CEO rather than with all board members might lead to people not telling the HRD the “truth about things”, as he or she will be seen as “in the CEO’s pocket”.