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REPORT BACK: Finance meets HR Summit

04 March 2020, by Deborah Booth


At ClarkHouse Human Capital we believe in a HR and Finance collaboration which is why we supported the Finance meets HR Summit on the 18th February hosted by CHRO and CFO South Africa.


At the event it was very clear to me that there is still a huge divide between the people who hold the roles of CHRO and CFO. Both Finance and HR felt that few companies had an ideal CHRO - CFO partnership that gelled seamlessly, although everyone agreed that partners who are not on the same page spell disaster for an organisation.


The summit presented a unique opportunity for the two functions to understand their respective roles and challenges in more detail, and for Finance and HR to start moving towards taking their true position in a company, which is to lead and coach the CEO collectively.


Too often the HR and Finance functions work in silos and often the CHRO function is not seen to be as important as the CFO function. Based on my experiences advising Africa’s top corporates not only on HR and talent placement, but also on digital transformation and the future of work, I believe that they are equally important, especially now in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

DHAARUNI ANKIAH AND DEBORAH BOOTH AT THE FINANCE MEETS HR SUMMIT

At the event it became clear that when there is a good partnership between the CFO and the CHRO, there is a noticeable, positive impact on an organisation. A good partnership enables them to work together and be a joint force in advising the CEO. Those with healthy relationships choose to approach the CEO as a united front working together to resolve challenges and offer advice, on a mutually agreed upon solution. This united front enables business to move forward rather than infighting holding it back.


I noticed that many HR professionals were of the opinion that CFOs ‘thought they knew everything’, including how to do the CHRO job. On the flip side, CFOs believed that CHROs

did not understand the commercial side of the business.


As the ‘people’ aspect of business becomes more and more critical, it is essential that the CHRO has a respected seat at the EXCO table. It is the responsibility of the CHRO to ensure that they are adding value and have a commercial understanding of their organisation. It is also essential for the CFO to allow the CHRO to have proper influence and decision making power. There are often decisions that need to be made where people are impacted and if it is solely done on commercial value and not understanding the social or cultural impact, it could have a disastrous effect that a ‘numbers only’ view would fail to take into account.


Events like the Finance Meets HR Summit which bring two diverse roles together encourage healthy debate, drive collaboration and show the benefits of getting it right. This can only be a positive thing for business in South Africa going forward as we prepare our businesses for the future of work.


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