HR GOVERNANCE: The Human Face of Corporate Governance by Marius Meyer & Michael Glensor

Strategic risk and Strategy as a risk by Marius Meyer and Penny Abbott
July 4, 2018
Should HR Become a Statutory Profession in South Africa? THE PROS AND CONS by by Marius Meyer
July 5, 2018

Over the past few years we have faced serious corporate governance scandals, ranging from state capture to other forms of fraud and corruption involving state-owned enterprises, consulting and auditing firms, other private companies and government.  The recent Steinhoff scandal once again shows how vulnerable companies, boards, management, employees and other stakeholders are when sound corporate governance is not part of the culture of organisations and their leaders. When companies collapse because of corporate scandals, invariably employees and broader society are the victims, let alone the adverse effect on investment climate, the economy and the overall competitiveness of a nation plagued by fraud and corruption. Trust in institutions is being eroded daily and the sustainability of organisations threatened. The question is whether corporate governance codes and systems are sufficient to prevent corporate scandals? Hence, the need for HR Governance – the human face of governance.

At the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP), the chairperson of the HR Governance Committee of SABPP, Elizabeth Dhlamini-Kumalo launched the first national HR Governance Framework for HR Leaders in South Africa.  It was then decided to develop an HR Governance workshop for HR Leaders and Senior HR Managers responsible for the sound governance of human capital in organisations.


The purpose of this workshop is to ensure that HR Leaders are empowered in their new role as HR Governors. This means that HR Leaders are expected to lead strategic and governance HR work at Board level, and ensuring that HR issues are governed not only at the Board, but also in the different Board committees such as remuneration, nominations, social and ethics, we well as transformation committees. The HR Governance framework of South Africa has a dual focus:

  1. To clearly outline the responsibility of Boards as custodians of human capital;
  2. To position the HR Director as a fully-fledged Board Member, or as prescribed officer when not at the Board to fulfil their governance role as HR Governors taking responsibility for facilitating the effective and ethical utilisation of human capital.


It is evident that there is a distinct corporate governance role for HR Leaders. The workshop will capacitate HR Leaders to embark on the journey of HR Governance in ensuring that the people side of business becomes part and parcel of the corporate governance approach of an organisation.  In addition, HR Leaders as a member of the Board, or executive member of several board committees or management structures need to ensure that HR strategy and HR governance are aligned to the overall corporate governance system and strategy of the organisation. This will not only ensure that human capital is leveraged for optimal performance and sustainability, but also contribute to a more human approach to corporate governance.

The workshop will cover the following areas:

  • Defining HR Governance for Boards and HR Directors
  • Identifying the implications of the King IV™ Code for HR Leaders
  • Making the transition from HR Business Partner to HR Governor
  • Outlining the National HR Governance Framework
  • Differentiating between the different spheres of HR Governance
  • Identifying the key elements of HR Governance
  • Leveraging different stakeholders in building good HR Governance
  • Optimising the contribution of HR Governance to Corporate Governance
  • Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of HR Directors / Prescribed Officers
  • Identifying and mitigating human capital risks
  • Guiding Board and HR Committees to contribute to sound corporate governance
  • Highlighting the importance of HR standards in advancing HR Governance
  • Positioning HR Audits/Internal Audit (monitoring and evaluation) as an effective mechanism of combined assurance in HR
  • Elevating the role of the HR Leader in building a culture of sound corporate governance and ethics
  • Introducing the concept of self-governance for all employees as a powerful element in instilling good corporate governance at all levels of the organisations
  • Ensuring the effective inclusion of HR Governance in integrated reports
  • Measuring the impact of HR governance on organisational success
  • Providing practical guidelines in making HR Governance work

We would like to invite HR Directors and Senior HR Managers to become a part of this ground-breaking initiative wherein the SABPP engages the conversation around the role of HR Governance in the future world of work. Not only will it enable HR Leaders to fulfil their corporate governance duties, it will also position them to play a key role at board level within organisations.


Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP and Dr Michael Glensor is Vice-chair of the HR Governance Committee of SABPP.  South Africa’s first HR Governance workshop will take place on 24 July 2018 in Sandton, please contact the SABPP office on more information.