The human side of data
Chief Human Resources Officer insights from the 20th Edition of the Global C-suite Study

Leading Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) don’t rely just on instinct; they practice what they preach and draw on data to manage their organizations’ most valuable asset: people.

In our latest Global C-suite Study (conducted in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic), we asked more than 13,000 executives what it takes to lead in a world brimming with bytes. We identified a small group of enterprises that stand out from the rest—we call them Torchbearers.

Torchbearer CHROs turn to data when making vital decisions about staffing and training. They are acutely aware of the need to use data ethically and are striving to create a culture of data believers in their organizations. Data-led, agile decision-making has never been more important as CHROs grapple with the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results say it all. The enterprises in this elite band of front-runners are more flexible, more innovative, and more profitable than their industry peers. And the CHROs who help them lead are making a major contribution to that success.


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Binary code:
Behaving with integrity
Torchbearer CHROs represent enterprises that indicate they are much more aware of the value of data
78%
|
35%
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s
“It’s my job to nurture employee trust—both the trust employees have in management and management’s trust in employees.”
CHRO
| Industrial products
Canada

Even before COVID, Torchbearer CHROs anticipated that the business landscape would evolve dramatically—and because they expect change, they’re better prepared to manage it. Torchbearer CHROs are among those most convinced of data’s utility. In fact, nearly seven in ten say it plays a crucial role in helping their enterprises create a strategic advantage in one or more ways.

Though data can help open up entirely new ways of doing business, there’s a downside too: as a rising number of organizations capture more information on the workforce, employees worry about the potential misuse of their personal information. There’s a delicate balance between boosting the bottom line and respecting employees’ privacy—and not every organization gets it right.

However, there are some enterprises that have found the right balance. These Torchbearer CHROs recognize the importance of managing employee data responsibly through robust governance and accountability.
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Binary code:
Behaving with integrity
“It’s my job to nurture employee trust—both the trust employees have in management and management’s trust in employees.”
CHRO
| Industrial products
Canada

Even before COVID, Torchbearer CHROs anticipated that the business landscape would evolve dramatically—and because they expect change, they’re better prepared to manage it. Torchbearer CHROs are among those most convinced of data’s utility. In fact, nearly seven in ten say it plays a crucial role in helping their enterprises create a strategic advantage in one or more ways.

Though data can help open up entirely new ways of doing business, there’s a downside too: as a rising number of organizations capture more information on the workforce, employees worry about the potential misuse of their personal information. There’s a delicate balance between boosting the bottom line and respecting employees’ privacy—and not every organization gets it right.

However, there are some enterprises that have found the right balance. These Torchbearer CHROs recognize the importance of managing employee data responsibly through robust governance and accountability.
Torchbearer CHROs represent enterprises that indicate they are much more aware of the value of data
78%
|
35%
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s

Download report translations

Faith in facts:
Forging a culture of data devotees
Torchbearer CHROs promote the sharing of data across functional boundaries
54%
|
17%
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s
“Technology will help us create a better workforce experience and encourage employees to engage more actively.”
CHRO
| Telecommunications
Singapore

Most Torchbearer CHROs report that they and their peers are predisposed to draw on data when they have to make important decisions—and this great trust in data is probably attributable to the sheer quality of the information they can call on. In fact, more than six in ten Torchbearer CHROs work in organizations that have clearly defined rules for collecting, using, and sharing data. And six in ten say their enterprise excels at all these activities.

There is an opportunity to distribute this top-notch data to the workforce that must be taken advantage of. Torchbearer CHROs realize a culture of data devotees can only exist where reliable data circulates freely and transparently, where there’s collaboration around a core set of data principles, and where employees have the tools and skills with which to dig into data themselves. Without these practices in place, CHROs know this access to first-rate data is of little value.
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Faith in facts:
Forging a culture of data devotees
“Technology will help us create a better workforce experience and encourage employees to engage more actively.”
CHRO
| Telecommunications
Singapore

Most Torchbearer CHROs report that they and their peers are predisposed to draw on data when they have to make important decisions—and this great trust in data is probably attributable to the sheer quality of the information they can call on. In fact, more than six in ten Torchbearer CHROs work in organizations that have clearly defined rules for collecting, using, and sharing data. And six in ten say their enterprise excels at all these activities.

There is an opportunity to distribute this top-notch data to the workforce that must be taken advantage of. Torchbearer CHROs realize a culture of data devotees can only exist where reliable data circulates freely and transparently, where there’s collaboration around a core set of data principles, and where employees have the tools and skills with which to dig into data themselves. Without these practices in place, CHROs know this access to first-rate data is of little value.
Torchbearer CHROs promote the sharing of data across functional boundaries
54%
|
17%
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s

Download report translations

Informed view:
Turning bytes into insights
Torchbearer CHROs are more adept at using data to create a highly skilled workforce
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s
“I’m implementing a cloud-based HR solution to manage our human capital data model.”
CHRO
| Energy, environment, and utilities
Ireland

CHROs in the most successful enterprises are generating new value by collecting—and using—data in new ways. These leading CHROs are turning data-driven decision making into a core principle and employing data in real time to transform their organizations.

Additionally, two-thirds of Torchbearer CHROs are planning big investments on artificial intelligence (AI). Leading CHROs realize that AI opens up a whole host of opportunities that were previously unimaginable. It can be used to personalize skilling at scale, predict flight risks, and uncover unwitting recruitment biases.

However, data that sits outside the firewall can be equally revealing. The rise of social networking has provided a useful new channel for publicizing job-related information, cultivating a positive image, and entering into a dialog with potential candidates. Therefore, Torchbearer CHROs understand that a strong brand helps attract the first-class workers who are crucial to the success of any business.
Download the report

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Informed view:
Turning bytes into insights
“I’m implementing a cloud-based HR solution to manage our human capital data model.”
CHRO
| Energy, environment, and utilities
Ireland

CHROs in the most successful enterprises are generating new value by collecting—and using—data in new ways. These leading CHROs are turning data-driven decision making into a core principle and employing data in real time to transform their organizations.

Additionally, two-thirds of Torchbearer CHROs are planning big investments on artificial intelligence (AI). Leading CHROs realize that AI opens up a whole host of opportunities that were previously unimaginable. It can be used to personalize skilling at scale, predict flight risks, and uncover unwitting recruitment biases.

However, data that sits outside the firewall can be equally revealing. The rise of social networking has provided a useful new channel for publicizing job-related information, cultivating a positive image, and entering into a dialog with potential candidates. Therefore, Torchbearer CHROs understand that a strong brand helps attract the first-class workers who are crucial to the success of any business.
Torchbearer CHROs are more adept at using data to create a highly skilled workforce
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s
Torchbearer CHR0s
Aspirational CHR0s

Download report translations

20th Global C-Suite Study
Build Your Trust Advantage
Leadership in the era of data and AI everywhere
Learn more
20th Global C-Suite Study
Build Your Trust Advantage
Leadership in the era of data and AI everywhere
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Explore past CHRO studies
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