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Given the rash of scandals (Wells Fargo, Uber, etc.) that cast negative light on culture and the recent positive emphasis (e.g., Larry Fink’s letters to BlackRock shareholders), part of the 2019 HR@Moore Survey of examined CHRO perceptions of how the board of directors (BOD) and CEO view culture. This report presents these results. Quantitative results from the CHRO survey indicate that knowledge of culture and its impact on organizational outcomes is highest for CHROs, followed by CEOs and board members. All three groups recognize that culture has a strong impact on engaging and retaining employees, driving performance, branding the organization, aligning organizational members, implementing strategic initiatives, and avoiding enterprise risks. The major difference among these three groups is that CHROs perceive that board members believe leveraging culture to avoid enterprise risks is its second most important effect, whereas CHROs and CEOs were perceived to rate this benefit least important. Qualitative results indicate that CHROs help the Board of Directors with understanding the organization’s culture largely by sharing data and metrics through presentations. In contrast, CHROs tend to help CEOs understand the organization’s culture more in one-on-one settings, and discussions and brainstorming sessions regarding how to best manage the culture. CHROs reported that many BODs and CEOs have been consistently focused on culture, but a large number also noted that both groups are increasingly focused on it, usually due to their increasing recognition of culture’s impact on firm outcomes such as performance, engagement, diversity & inclusion (D&I), and merger and acquisition (M&A) success. Finally, CHROs described their role in culture in ways that are helpful, specific, and to some extent, confusing. They describe some very clear ways that they help manage culture, but these descriptions vary greatly, indicating that little consensus seems to exist regarding the best or most important roles that CHROs play in building, transforming, and maintaining culture.

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© 2019, University of South Carolina

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