Apple’s Latest Leadership Reshuffle is a No-Brainer. So Why Did It Take Them 47 Years to Do it?

Apple's flagship store in New York.
Apple's flagship store in New York. Photo: Getty Images.

Your people are your business.

Apple just announced its first ever Chief People Officer. The company is naming Carol Surface to the new role, according to CEO Tim Cook in a company memo. Prior to this, the remit of overseeing all People and HR Operations fell under a dual role along with Retail.

Surface has consistently found herself in top HR global leadership positions, so it’s no surprise that she’s landed at Apple. What is a surprise, though, is how long it took the tech behemoth to officially welcome People/HR into the C-Suite. Still, it wasn’t like Apple was a total anomaly either. A latest research by BambooHR finds that 26 of the top 100 companies in the world still don’t have a CHRO (or similar named position).

Good EX is good CX is good for business

Companies are coming around to the idea that your people are your greatest asset. Far from a trite statement, it is a part of robust business strategy. The CHROs of the future are the change agents that fuel the internal growth and development of successful companies – a growth that is as much inward facing as it is market facing.

A strong EX strategy feeds into a strong CX strategy. If your company is the company that everyone wants to work for, then you have the competitive advantage of securing top talent. If you have the best possible workforce, you build a better business with stronger revenue and projected growth.

To say another way: A people strategy – with an executive behind it like Surface – is a key growth lever that today’s organizations, no matter the industry, need to recognize and utilize to the fullest extent.

The dusty legacy of HR evolving

There has been a general resistance to the idea of bringing People and HR to the top. HR has a long and messy history and it’s had a confused identity crisis over the last couple decades, especially as digital began to advance.

Jumping headfirst into the data analytics wave, a modernization of HR/People Ops is a People Analytics function. HR leaders will become more data-savvy, using evidence-based decision making and predictive analytics to drive forward business strategy alongside CEOs, COOs, and CFOs. Tim Cook and Apple are just one more in the growing list of top companies to formally recognize and invest in their people.