HR Director career: the next step

Article By
Carl Hinett
Carl Hinett
Posted On9th December 2021
Posted On9th December 2021

Should HR be on the board of Directors and if so, what can you do as an HRD, to take your career to the next level?

According to Korn Ferry, in 2019, fewer than 3% of sitting directors on the boards of Fortune 1000 companies, were current or former HR executives.

Exec boards are increasingly recognising the importance of diverse perspectives. Although board turnover remains slow and HR remains underrepresented in the boardroom, there is growing openness to bringing on different types of expertise.

In my opinion, when boards are discussing culture, values, succession planning and talent management, there really needs to be an experienced HR leader involved to guide that conversation.

On top of that, the pandemic has shone a light on HR, reminding businesses of its importance. Surely, this gives the greatest opportunity for HR leaders to step up? Here are some things you need to consider.

Know your ‘why’

For anyone who hasn’t seen Simon Sinek’s video, I would highly recommend it and I think it helps with this challenge!

Given that people should be an organisation’s most important asset there are huge opportunities for HR to support the CEO with challenges around culture, diversity, and talent.

From a practical point of view, it is important to think about why you want to be on the board, how you might impact the business and what you can bring to the role.

Become an advisor to your CEO and board

You want to be leading the discussion about the organisation’s culture and analysing how it is helping the performance of the business as a whole. Make sure they think of you as a Chief HR Officer.

It is a good idea to look externally too, many senior leaders are well-read in the leadership space, bringing innovative insight and opportunity into the business, will help to raise your profile from a strategic perspective.

Network with board members

You need to find board members you know, or have connections with, and strengthen relationships with them. Directors you’ve worked with and know of your interest in taking on a board seat can help you. Reach out to people to build new relationships in businesses you have identified you’d like to be a part of and get out to events you know the right people will be at.

The more you grow your network, the more inside information you can get and the closer you are to achieving your goal. Most Board Directors are more than willing to offer their time to other new or aspiring Board Directors.

Become an expert

It sounds simple – but a lot of people miss this step out. Make sure you’re clued up on the board selection process and how it all works. Think about what industries are you interested in working in? What sort of companies? Who is involved in their board selection process? This will allow you to get on the radar of the right people, who can recommend you when the position comes up – which links back to networking with the right kind of people.

You can find out more about what makes a great HR professional here.

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch at

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