CEO’s Letter: Research Revelations

By Elliot H. Clark

According to most dictionaries, the word “research” is derived from an Old French word for “search.” It has come to be used as a term for seeking the truth with data and the scientific methodology of analysis. In the social sciences, we get much data from the statistical analysis of perception. This month, I am “previewing” (teasing…) some findings from upcoming HRO Today research reports.

In this issue, we share the results of our quarterly Worker Confidence Index (WCI) report, co-sponsored by Yoh, which contains no shocking revelations on worker confidence. In the wake of the pandemic, the WCI plummeted due to fear and uncertainty about jobs, compensation, and the likelihood of a promotion. While worker confidence was down, there was a surprising durability in trust in leadership. We saw signs of this in the preliminary monthly data prior to the completion of the full quarterly report. We strongly believe this continuing level of trust is due to HR’s success communicating with the workforce throughout the COVID-19 crisis. This has sustained the credibility of executive leadership in a time of almost unprecedented opacity about the near future. It also highlights the enormous impact of HR policies and practices on the emotional stability of workers.

But the news for HR isn’t all rainbows and roses. Our annual CHRO Compensation Study, co-sponsored by WilsonHCG, is being released shortly, with the summary data appearing in an upcoming issue of HRO Today. The study looks at overall compensation and issues related to the gender pay gap and diversity. The research contains a sample of 112 Fortune 500 CHROs in public companies, and as such, was a very good sample from which to draw statistical significance and conclusions.

The findings were a bit troubling. While overall cash and non-cash compensation levels between men and women were at parity, the salary and bonus components were lower for women than their male counterparts, and salary or guaranteed compensation was lower still. Women are compensated differently even at the highest levels of HR than men. Period, end of story.

This is surprising as women were 63 percent of the sample size. In this study, women were overrepresented as heads of HR versus men when compared to their demographic representation in society. However, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans were all underrepresented compared to their demographic percentage in the population. So, there remains much work to be done. How big are these disparities, you ask? The report will be out soon for you to read… (that’s the tease).

Likewise, we concluded our Top Concerns of CHROs report based on the responses of more than 100 CHROs in large multinational corporations. The sample was collected both before and after the COVID-19 shutdown, so the split in responses gave us the opportunity to look at how the concerns changed over the course of the pandemic. We couldn’t find any other “top concerns” studies specifically for HR leaders, and this fact raises issues about the share of voice that HR has among other management professionals such as CEOs and CFOs. Given the importance of HR to managing culture, communications, and the transition to remote work, HR should have a more prominent voice. This upcoming report will highlight for you the pressing issues in the future of HR that you will need to be prepared for as a practitioner or provider of technology or service.

The purpose of research is to divine the truth based on data, not speculation. We have been hard at work for the past few months surveying employees and HR leaders about the issues that most influence your daily life as an HR professional.

Click here to view our research reports. Stay safe and enjoy the new reports when they are released.

Tags: July-August-2020

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