March 30, 2021 – Along with the sudden rise in importance of chief people officers and CHROs, the pandemic era has spawned many new C-suite roles. But only some of those are likely to become permanent corporate fixtures when the current crisis subsides. A new report from Boyden explores how CEOs have used the creation of new executive roles to help them face new challenges. For many chief executives, it can be an effective way to focus resources on urgent matters and bring in new talent, according to the Boyden report. “It also communicates that the company is paying attention to a problem and taking action,” said the search firm. “Some newly minted roles become obsolete once the crisis subsides or the unfamiliar trend becomes part of everyday life. But others, notably the chief sustainability officer, become integral.”
Of the new executive positions brought about by the pandemic, the chief medical officer has the most potential staying power, Boyden said. The role was already common in healthcare and life sciences, as well as in industries with inherent dangers, such as mining, or where risk is top of mind, as in insurance. “But in 2020, organizations in industries ranging from hospitality to technology added health experts to their C-suites,” the search firm said. “Chief medical officers are crucial for managing issues around sick leave, safety protocols and mental health, to name a few, which are likely to persist for some time.”
Chief Remote Officer
The pandemic also brought about the emerging role of chief remote officer, responsible for developing and implementing policies and best practices for working from home. The Boyden report said that “there is a need for leadership to manage this transition; however, the more common remote work becomes and the longer it continues, the less guidance companies will require. In all likelihood, the function will move to the domain of human resources.”
Related: Pandemic Changes CHRO Role for Good
Though not new, Boyden says that the roles of chief revenue officer and chief growth officer gained momentum as the pandemic’s economic impacts created an urgent need to focus human resources on managing revenue-generating activities. As The Economist noted, “it is bread and butter that continues to preoccupy bosses.” An analysis by LinkedIn found that in the U.S., from January through October, the roles of chief revenue officer and chief growth officer grew by 27 percent and 42 percent, respectively, in their proportion of total C-suite hiring.
ON Partners’ annual list of the top executive jobs that are expected to be in demand in the coming year takes on a new twist for 2021. With COVID-19 having upended the business landscape, the search firm surveyed its consultants about the positions that will be critical to helping organizations survive and thrive as the nation moves past the pandemic. Following are the top positions ON consultants anticipate will be in high demand in 2021 as companies work to mitigate the impact of the virus and move into recovery mode.
“By far the most dramatic rise seen in 2020 was that of the chief diversity officer, driven by widespread protests against racial injustice in America,” the Boyden report said. “The need to ensure a diverse workforce is unquestionable; social issues aside, the benefits to companies are significant and well-documented. However, there is still much progress to be made. Many chief diversity officers, though part of the C-suite in title, are not truly part of the inner circle. The march of progress suggests that this will change, perhaps to the point where the position is no longer needed.”
Boyden, headquartered in Purchase, NY, is a leadership and talent advisory firm with more than 65 offices in over 40 countries. It continues to expand and add talent across several global regions.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media