What Is a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)?

A chief human resources officer is an executive-level leader who oversees all HR functions and people strategy in an organization.

Written by Andy Santos
Published on Feb. 14, 2023
What Is a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)?
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A chief human resources officer partners closely with other members of the executive leadership team, board of directors and other stakeholders through strategic leadership using their expertise in HR and strong business acumen. 

Some organizations have titles such as chief people officer or head of people for their CHRO role. This title change has been a part of an ongoing transformation in the HR world. HR teams are moving away from using “human resources” since this terminology seems to dehumanize employees as disposable resources. The more modern approach is for the HR function to serve as a people-centric support system that partners with employees. 

CHRO Responsibilities

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What Does a Chief Human Resources Officer Do?

Whether with the executive leadership team or in front of the board of directors, CHROs are business leaders who champion employee experience and the overall talent brand. With expertise in various HR functions, a CHRO builds people strategies that align with company growth goals and enables a company to recruit, develop and retain great talent. 

CHROs lead with influence at the executive level while ensuring employee voices are heard and represented by business leaders. We can see the impact of a CHRO not only in a company’s HR operations, but also in the company culture. 

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Common CHRO Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources or relevant field, like organizational psychology
  • Strong strategic leadership experience at the executive level
  • Significant years of experience in HR with a strong subject matter expertise in various HR functions, including recruiting, HR/people operations, talent development, employee relations and more 
  • HR certification (e.g. SHRM, HRCI, AIHR)
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Is Chief Human Resources Officer a Good Career?

Becoming a CHRO is a great path for HR professionals whose career goal is to be an executive-level leader. The CHRO role allows a seasoned HR executive to make an impact with an organization using the HR expertise they have acquired throughout their career while also contributing at a strategic level. 

How Much Does a CHRO Make?

The salary and benefits for a chief human resources officer depends on a variety of factors including the size of a company, industry, experience level, location and responsibilities. The overall market salary rate may also change based on economic factors such as inflation. To get a sense of the open chief human resources officer positions and salary ranges in your region, head over to Built In’s salary tool

 

How Do I Become a CHRO?

If your long-term career goal is to become a CHRO, it’s important to identify what qualifications are going to help you based on the type of company or industry in which you would like to work. Below is a general list of relevant backgrounds and skills to keep in mind on your journey to becoming a CHRO. 

 

Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree 

Higher education will help you gain a general understanding of various HR functions and the key role of HR within a company. For those aiming to become a CHRO, it’s particularly helpful to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resources, labor and employment relations, or in an adjacent field like organizational psychology. Keep in mind that degree requirements may vary depending on the company.

 

Executive Leadership Experience

Being at the top of the HR career ladder, a CHRO role typically requires senior leadership experience, such as holding a prior vice president or senior vice president role. It’s important for anyone in a CHRO career path to gain experience leading through influence and with emotional intelligence — both in their actions and in their communications. 

 

Many Years of Experience in Various HR Roles

As the head of all HR functions, it’s important for those pursuing a CHRO role to gain experience in all functions of HR. A well-rounded expertise and understanding of all HR functions enables a CHRO to design and lead an overall people strategy that aligns with a long-term company strategy.

 

HR certifications

Various organizations such as SHRM, HRCI and AIHR offer certification programs for HR professionals who are looking to expand or strengthen their HR knowledge and expertise. Depending on the company, these certifications could make a CHRO applicant stand out so it’s important to consider earning an HR certification as you’re mapping out your education and career goals.

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