By Elliot H. Clark
In this monthâs cover story, we profile one of our CHRO of the Year Award winners Kevin Silva of Voya Financial. Kevin SilvaÂ is an extraordinary example of a CHRO who owns responsibilities beyond the HR suite and who drives the Voya culture in a unique way.Â By culture I mean not only HR programming, but also the companyâs entire corporate responsibility (CR) program. At HRO Today, we loveÂ that idea.
Last year, we divested our ownership of Corporate Responsibility Magazine to a friendly rival, 3BL Media, with whom we had areas ofÂ competition and partnership. It was the right decision for the shareholders of SharedXpertise Media LLC, the parent company of HROÂ Today. However, this transaction did not fundamentally signal a change in our philosophy. There are so many synergies between CR andÂ HR, it is unfortunate that more organizations do not combine these executive roles.
To be sure, HR is involved in many aspects of CR when it comes to employee volunteerism, employee engagement programs, andÂ community involvement. The one area that does not directly intersect with HR is reportingâbe it for governmental agencies, ratingsÂ organizations, or to internal and external stakeholders in annual reports. However, much of CRâs communication to employeeÂ stakeholders runs through HRâs own channels and management.
The combination of these functions also makes sense if you think about the role of HR and its desire to impact the workforce and theÂ local community. Part of an organizationâs community involvement and impact comes from diversity programming. I believe it fair to sayÂ that most, if not all, leading companies now recognize diversity as a business imperative that involves understanding their customers andÂ their communities rather than an exercise in checking off boxes on an OFCCP report.
Many CEOs are recognizing that HR can play a bigger role and, in fact, should own more responsibility than the traditional âswim lanesâÂ of hiring, retention, compensation and benefits, etc. Thereâs been growth in ânon-traditionalâ areas now reporting to HR includingÂ security, real estate, and communications. We have also seen heads of HR managing customer services for major hospitality or retailÂ outlets because the correlation between employee engagement scores and customer satisfaction is so high that it needs to be embracedÂ rather than ignored.
I have seen some very cynical arguments made in articles that say HR teams are corporate scalp hunters who never take the side of theÂ employee and are never to be trusted. These articles are almost always written by some fringe player with sketchy credentials. Yes, HRÂ needs to consider all aspects of a situation and, in most cases, advocate for the employeesâ rights and dignity in the modern world. So, IÂ believe the mission of HR has an inherent nobility.
I am not suggesting it is entirely altruistic. Treating employees with respect and dignityâmotivating them in a positive wayâis smartÂ business. Protecting the environment, creating more sustainable products, reducing waste, and investing in communities is also smartÂ business. There are host of CR technical and policy specialists who can manage these details and propose programming. The executiveÂ role of providing leadership and vision is something that most HR leaders would relish and an excellent extension of the HR mission.
Congratulations again to Kevin Silva on the recognition as one of our CHRO of the Year Award winners and I hope you enjoy the coverÂ feature.