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How HR leaders can support cybersecurity and digital transformation strategies

August 23, 2022, 1:27 PM UTC
A woman holding her phone in her right hand with a laptop on her lap. A two-factor authentication screen is prompting her to sign in
A woman using two-factor authentication to log into an account. A majority of executives feel employees are the greatest source of organizational cybersecurity risk.
Oscar Wong—Getty Images

Good morning, CHRO Daily readers! Aman Kidwai here, taking over for Amber.

Pursuant to the old adage that “every company is a technology company,” every company must also be a cybersecurity company—and this has major implications for HR. 

Digital transformation and cybersecurity are top priorities today even as CEOs and boards focus on return-to-office strategies, according to PwC, and it’s up to CHROs to ensure that companies have enough of the right people to meet future growth objectives. That’s because these domains are more connected than ever, requiring better collaboration between HR, IT, and information security leaders.

“I am seeing greater dialogue between HR and the CISO [chief information security officer],” says Sean Joyce, global and U.S. cybersecurity and privacy leader at PwC. Joyce adds that in addition to recruiting, this dialogue is focused on defining new data security policies and procedures as employers adopt new working models.

David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer at Deloitte, points to advances in onboarding, remote employee support, and cybersecurity training as areas where an improved relationship between HR and IT can make a difference in the company’s ability to accelerate digitally and protect itself from information breaches. Additionally, IT can help HR by making the revamped digital employee experience as smooth as possible, providing a boost to engagement and retention.

Boards and CEOs should be pushing for greater collaboration between HR and technology departments if they aren’t already. “I don’t think they’ve been working as closely together in the past,” Linthicum says. “It’s getting better now and it certainly has occurred through the pandemic, but we have to take things to the next level.”

That “next level,” he notes, means aligning goals, incorporating feedback from each other, and learning how to center employee satisfaction as workers tackle workplace technology decisions together. Advisory firm Marsh McLennan found that a majority of executives feel employees are the greatest source of organizational cybersecurity risk, noting that HR “plays an important role in creating and maintaining a robust cybersecurity culture.”

HR can set this cultural tone by making sure all employees know they have a responsibility to protect customer data, internal strategy documents, and other information that is typically targeted by hackers.

“Cybersecurity is a team sport,” Joyce says.

As HR grapples with office attendance policies, an increasingly competitive labor market, new standards for employee safety, and demands for better pay and benefits amid inflation, they must also consider their technology partners and limitations that go beyond budget when implementing workplace technology solutions. Linthicum lists data security, interaction with existing enterprise technology, and employee satisfaction as potential barriers, and points out that technology is not the best solution for every business challenge.

He asks: What good is a new technology if employees don’t use it? HR can help IT avoid introducing tech that will not be adopted by workers.

“They’re the ones doing the employee surveys, doing the exit interviews, and facilitating hiring,” Linthicum says, highlighting the value of HR’s perspective in technology decisions. In recruiting, HR can leverage technology and flexible work policies to access wider, more diverse talent pools and reduce the time to fill open roles, as evidenced by the audio streaming platform Spotify.

HR and IT should be joined at the hip when it comes to employee engagement, productivity, retention, inclusion, and the company’s capacity for innovation. And now that so much of the employee experience takes place online, IT and cybersecurity are topics in which HR leaders should be fluent.

“Most employees look at their employment experience now through the lens of IT. That’s where they get their culture from. That’s where they get their exposure to the system…their information,” Linthicum says. “That’s the new modern watercooler.”

Aman Kidwai

aman.kidwai@fortune.com

Around the Table

A roundup of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long reads.

Apple employees launched an online petition against the company’s work-from-home plan, which requires employees to return to the office at least three days a week, starting Sept. 5. —NBC News

“If you want to do strategy and strategic work, you have to have the fundamentals and the basics right,” says Hollie Castro, the outgoing CHRO of water bottle maker, Yeti. Castro is leaving Yeti after five years to join the hybrid work platform Miro. —HR Dive

- Members of the Great Resignation share how the decision affected their personal finances. Many say they've had to tighten their purse strings, but the freedom to pursue more rewarding work appears to be worth it. —The New York Times

Watercooler

Everything you need to know from Fortune

Remote work meets metaverse. As more people work in hybrid environments, companies are experimenting with new technologies to help employees connect. The metaverse and virtual reality might just be the latest iteration of this continuous evolution. —Val Vacante

The WFH debate continues. More than three-quarters of business leaders say that remote work is critical to their recruitment and retention policies, according to a survey from real estate firm JLL. Fortune’s Jane Thier explains why employees might be gaining the upper hand in the debate over remote work, despite the vocal, high-profile CEOs who oppose it. —Jane Thier

A diversified Fed. Lorie Logan became the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. With her appointment, roughly half of all U.S. central bankers are women. Despite the progress made at the top leadership level, gains still need to be made among mid-level employees who have greater impact on the Fed’s day-to-day operations. —Catarina Saraiva

Keeping options open. The Great Resignation might have slowed down in July, with 4.1% of workers leaving their jobs compared to 5.9% the year before. However, the number of employees looking for new jobs increased slightly, up just under a percentage point from the prior year. So even though more workers stayed put in July that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to moving around if the right opportunity presents itself. —Megan Leonhardt

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