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HR's role in the C-suite

  • 3 Min Read

HR and C-suite misalignment hinders business success. Bridging this gap is crucial for HR’s strategic recognition and organisational performance.

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In the high-stakes game of corporate strategy, Human Resources (HR) often feels like a pawn, overshadowed by the kingpins of the C-suite. But the business world is changing rapidly, and HR’s voice is crucial for shaping success. This article dives into the disconnect between HR and the C-suite, offering strategies for HR leaders to champion their role and align their efforts with the heartbeat of business outcomes.

HR’s undervalued role at the top table

There’s a quiet tension in the upper echelons of leadership. HR often feels marginalized, like the “knicker elastic” Jonathan Edge describes – essential but unnoticed.

Research by Lattice exposes a critical gap: only 27% of C-suite executives see HR programs as linked to revenue growth. This contrasts sharply with HR’s self-perception – 83% believe they significantly impact productivity. The disconnect is even clearer in layoff recovery. HR leaders expect 4-12 months, while the C-suite anticipates a much faster bounce back.

This underestimation reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of HR’s influence on business operations and the human capital that drives them.

Building bridges with the C-suite

To solidify their position, HR leaders need to build strong partnerships with other executives. Proactive relationship-building is key.

As Tia Smith of Collaborative Solutions suggests, understanding your colleagues’ goals and challenges is vital for collaboration. Go beyond traditional HR boundaries – immerse yourself in broader business initiatives and offer insights that add value.

Gianna Driver from Exabeam recommends using the RACI model to clarify roles and responsibilities, preventing conflicts in collaborative projects. When disagreements arise, address them constructively with “I” statements to maintain a respectful dialogue.

Finally, self-reflection is crucial. HR leaders who adapt their strategies based on feedback can navigate the complex C-suite dynamics and position themselves as strategic partners.

Aligning HR with business outcomes

Aligning HR initiatives with business goals is a strategic imperative. The challenge? Closing the perception gap. C-suite executives often struggle to see the link between HR efforts and key metrics like revenue growth and customer satisfaction.

To bridge this gap, HR professionals need to become data-driven storytellers. Show, don’t tell. Filipe Martins of Cutover emphasizes the need to move beyond traditional HR KPIs and have meaningful conversations that connect HR outcomes with business objectives. Data is your key to gaining credibility and asserting your strategic value.

It’s a two-way street: C-suite executives need to acknowledge HR’s strategic importance, and HR must frame their contributions in the language of business goals.

The art of persuasion for HR leaders

HR leaders who want to influence the C-suite and champion HR strategies need to master persuasion. This means clearly communicating the HR vision in a way that aligns with the company’s broader objectives, securing executive buy-in.

Self-advocacy is equally important. HR leaders must confidently assert their value and contributions. It’s about finding the right balance between assertiveness and reflection – making your voice heard while being open to feedback.

By skillfully advocating for their role and function, HR leaders can reshape perceptions within the C-suite, ensuring that HR’s strategic importance is both recognized and respected.


The disconnect between HR and the C-suite is a hurdle that, once overcome, can unlock organizational success. HR leaders play a pivotal role in bridging this gap by advocating for their strategic value and aligning their initiatives with business goals.

By building strong C-suite relationships, employing persuasion, and championing their function, HR leaders can transform perceptions and become an integral part of the company’s strategic core.

As businesses navigate an increasingly complex landscape, a unified HR-C-suite partnership becomes the cornerstone for resilience, innovation, and sustained performance.

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