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Rebranding HR: Whom should the HR head report to?

Organisations and HR professionals would do well by reviewing the role of HR, its reporting structure and also rebranding it to make it responsible for performance at a macro level. This will go a long way in making HR more respectable and effective in serving an organisation

Source | | Lancelot Cutinha

In one of the startups I worked in my corporate career as an HR professional, I was presented with a Hobson’s choice of reporting to the head of marketing. I knew it was a recipe for disaster and as expected there was a lot of conflict as well as conflict of interest. Small wonder, I had a short stint in the company. Whom should the HR head report to? In most organisations, the HR function reports to the CEO, but I fervently believe that the function should have a dual reporting – one to the CEO and one to a higher authority perhaps to one of Directors of the Board, just like the Quality or Safety functions in some industries. If for any reason, this isn’t possible, one or more members of the Board of Directors should engage with the HR head, say once in a quarter, to understand people challenges and issues related to the organisation’s culture. I also believe that by rebranding HR as ‘Performance & Ethics’, an organisation will get a better return on its investment from HR. Some like the Bard may quip “What’s in a name”, but any marketer will tell you that a name is everything. Nevertheless, I will make a case for rebranding the HR function.

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