In today’s highly competitive business environment, corporate culture must be a top priority, as a poor culture can ultimately lead to poor performance. But the CHRO and other traditionally people-focused leaders aren’t the only ones who can drive this aspect of the business. As CFOs, our actions have an enormous impact on corporate culture, and how well we handle that responsibility directly impacts the overall organization.
Traditionally, the head of finance focused on the numbers and the head of HR stood for the people. I think most of my peers would agree that’s an archaic leadership approach in today’s knowledge-based economy, with people and finances being so closely intertwined. At Workday, two-thirds of our costs are related to people, and our global workforce’s collective brain trust is our biggest asset.
With this in mind, here are some key areas where forward-thinking CFOs can play a significant role in driving corporate culture:
Always evaluate the potential impact on people. When it comes to financial guidance, I consider it my job to think not just about the impact on the bottom line, or how investors might react to a financial decision, but also how these decisions may impact our employees and the environment in which they work every day. This mindset also results in a far more productive collaboration with our Chief People Officer Ashley Goldsmith than the traditional clash that can happen between finance and HR leaders when it comes to budget decisions. In addition, when providing input on decisions related to how we grow our companies, I think CFOs share responsibility in thinking about how our choices will influence the culture, whether it’s the benefits programs we choose or where to locate a new regional office.