Want to Be Seen as Strategic? Maybe It’s Time HR Looked to the CFO

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Aug 21, 2013

HR professionals worry a lot about whether their CEO thinks they are strategic business leaders.

Turns out it isn’t the CEO that HR professionals need to worry about. It’s the CFO.

This is according to global survey data collected from three Oracle/IBM sponsored research reports produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit in April and May 2012. CEOs made up 57 percent and CFOs made up 43 percent of the 235 respondents.

These aren’t great numbers for HR

The resulting infographic is one of the more readable and useful ones of its type that I’ve seen. Among the data points:

  • 80 percent of CEOs and CFOs want the head of HR to be key in their company’s strategy planning.
  • Only 38 percent of those CEOs and CFOS say that is currently the case.
  • Only 10 percent say the head of HR is “extremely” key in strategic planning right now.
  • Only 37 percent of CEOs and CFOs say their relationship with the head of HR is “close and trustful.”
  • Just 28 percent of CEOs and CFOs say their relationship with the head of HR is among their “most valued” professional relationships.

But here are the real zingers:oracle-driving-hr-forward-infographic-march-2013

Does the CFO support the HR chief?


But here’s the real irony: CFOs are more confident about HR’s understanding the needs of the business than they are about the business of HR! There is low confidence by CFOs that HR can lead the HR function, can evaluate employee performance, or can identify and recruit key talent.

That’s not good news – especially since CFOs spend significantly more time with CEOs than CHROs do. I wonder what the CFO and CEO are talking about with regard to HR? Is the CFO supporting the CHRO?

Given this survey data, I wonder.

Maybe CEOs aren’t HR’s biggest challenge after all. Maybe CFOs are the ones toward whom HR professionals should be aiming their strategic attention. Maybe instead of pining after furniture, HR should be pining after spreadsheets!

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at

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