2017 CHRO Summit Recap

March 9 - 11, 2017
Orlando, FL

Chief Human Resource Officers Chart Policy Agenda At Landmark 2017 Summit

HR Policy Association Chair Mirian Graddick-Weir, Executive Vice President, Human Resources for Merck & Co., Inc., set the tone for a momentous 2017 CHRO Summit saying, "With less than two months into the new Administration, it's certainly clear to me that these are no ordinary times and in many ways we are in uncharted waters; yet, as an Association, we have the opportunity to leverage our collective voice to influence and shape key policies and practices to ensure we can attract, engage and retain the right talent and strengthen the competitiveness of our companies."  Highlights included: 

  • American Health Policy Institute CEO Dr. Tevi Troy and the Association's health care team led an interactive discussion with the membership about the Association's objectives amidst a changing health care landscape and its impact on the future of employer-sponsored health benefits.   
  • It was also clear the membership continues to believe private sector efforts remain the best path toward reforming the system.  Health Transformation Alliance Chair L. Kevin Cox, Chief Human Resources Officer of American Express Company, led a briefing by the HTA team of the considerable progress by the initiative, noting, "Waiting for something to happen out of Washington has not been a great strategy; this is our opportunity to control our destiny, both for our companies and our employees."
  • Workplace 2020 Initiative Chair Mara E. Swan, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Talent for ManpowerGroup, led an exploration of questions such as the future of various workplace regulations and how the business community can work with the President, citing the Workplace 2020 Initiative as the blueprint for the Association's lobbying efforts.     
  • Pam Kimmet, HR Policy Vice Chair, Center On Executive Compensation Chair and Chief Human Resources Officer, Cardinal Health Inc., led a discussion of how CHROs can help add long-term value in their companies through a focus on linking incentive metrics with strategy and sustained value and the increasing focus being placed on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics.  She noted that "investors are starting to look more closely at the alignment between incentives and business strategy and asking 'why' when they don’t see that alignment."

Health Care Panel Unpacks Repeal and Replace Process, Looks to Future of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits

Health care dominated discussion at the CHRO Summit as in Washington, and the Summit's afternoon health care forum, led by American Health Policy Institute CEO Tevi Troy, proved that an engaged membership is committed to lending their voice on issues impacting employers as Congress struggles to develop a replacement for the ACA.  Dan Yager, CEO of the Association, opened the session, saying, "We need to make sure that if we’re going to continue to provide employer-sponsored insurance, we have the public policy behind us to allow us to do that.  This includes a viable system to cover people, maintaining the tax treatment of health care so that employers can continue to provide coverage to 177 million Americans, and strengthening ERISA protections."  

  • In addition to leading the discussion on stage and in the audience, Dr. Troy gave insight into a number of topics, including the Republicans' three-part strategy for reforming health care: First, repealing key parts of the ACA by means of the reconciliation process, which requires a more achievable 51 votes rather than 60; second, regulatory actions taken by the Trump administration which are already underway through a number of executive actions; and third, a series of bills taking a more modest approach to health care reform than the single ACA law and which may attract limited Democratic support depending on their content and other factors. 
  • Mark Wilson, Chief Economist for the Association, reviewed the contents of the current health care bill and those measures likely to be featured in future bills, while also describing the rules and procedures which are governing the Congressional process. 
  • Henry Eickelberg, who recently joined the Institute as Senior Fellow, gave his perspective on where employer-sponsored care is headed and what high risk pools will mean for the new health care system. 
  • E.R. Anderson, Communications Director for Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), gave insights into the personalities working behind the scenes on the new health care legislation and the discussions being had on Capitol Hill.  
  • Vanessa Scott of Eversheds Sutherland walked the conference through the key issues regarding ERISA preemption and why it must be protected. 

The session concluded with roundtable discussions among CHROs and polls helping determine where the Association stands on the myriad issues now facing health care policymakers and the business community. 

Panel Explores Role of CHRO in Linking Strategy, Governance and Compensation

Center On Executive Compensation Chair Pam Kimmet, Chief Human Resources Officer, Cardinal Health Inc., led a discussion of how CHROs can add long-term value to their companies through a focus on linking incentive metrics with strategy and sustained value.  The discussion also zeroed in on the use of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics. Ms. Kimmet set the stage for the discussion, noting that "the pendulum is gradually shifting away from the singular focus on using Total Shareholder Return in incentive plans toward metrics that will better support company strategy." Shelly Carlin, Executive Vice President of HR Policy Association and its Center On Executive Compensation, discussed the Center’s development of a new tool, hosted by Equilar, called the Incentive Plan Analytics Calculatorsm  that will help companies assess the relationship between incentive metrics and long-term shareholder value.  David Chun, Founder and CEO of Equilar, who also participated on the panel, explained that the tool, also called IPACsm, will be useful to companies and investors alike "in the era of Say on Pay 2.0," where investors are showing much more scrutiny of pay plan design and metric selection. The panel then turned to Sarah Teslik, Of Counsel at communications firm Joele Frank, to discuss the new landscape for ESG issues with regard to companies and the renewed interest in the disclosure of human capital metrics, which are so-called “social” metrics.  Ms. Teslik noted that while almost all major shareholders have looked at governance issues over the past few years, the focus on environmental and social issues is newer and places additional pressure on investors.  She noted that "many investors are obligated to disclose to clients that they do something about environmental and social issues, so they have to ask."  Ms. Teslik recommended that all companies obtain copies of their reports from information providers such as MSCI Analytics and Sustainalytics in order to be better prepared for discussions with investors.  Finally, Ms. Carlin described the Center’s role in forming a working group with Bloomberg to review ESG and human capital metrics currently in use by Bloomberg to determine if the metrics are appropriate and accurate and to identify metrics that could be dangerously misleading.

Health Transformation Alliance Shows Way for Employers and Employees to Lower Health Care Costs

A panel featuring HTA Chair Kevin Cox, Chief Human Resources Officer at American Express Company and Marty Gervasi, Chief Human Resources Officer at The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., dove into ways employers can now start making a difference in health care costs to their companies through the Health Transformation Alliance.  Describing the Alliance as part of the "Health Care Triad," working in tandem with the Association and AHPI in order to reform the health care system using the resources and expertise available to large employers, Mr. Cox said, "This is our opportunity to control our destiny, both for our companies and our employees."  The panel further discussed the HTA's strategy and goals moving forward to continue to provide significant savings to its members by shaping the health care space to the advantage of their employees through mutual efforts.  Dr. Glenn Steele, who serves as HTA Vice Chair, described the various “innovation ingredients,” including businesses working together to leverage health care value, a focus on improving the health status of the employees, a truly integrated model of providers and significant opportunities to deliver increased quality at lower cost for high frequency, high cost, highly variable healthcare services, such as joint replacement, back pain treatment and type 2 diabetes treatment and prevention.

The Business Community and President Trump: CHROs Share Experiences, Examine Upcoming Policy Challenges

Workplace 2020 Initiative Chair Mara E. Swan, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Talent for ManpowerGroup, was joined by Immigration Policy Committee Chair Stephen Fry, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Diversity at Eli Lilly and Company and Diane Gherson, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at IBM Corporation, in leading the conference to explore questions such as the future of various workplace regulations and how the business community can work with the President.  The panel addressed President Trump's interactions and relationships with the business community and individual companies thus far.  A number of CHROs from affected companies recounted their experiences and gave insights into their internal and external response strategies.  Summarizing the lesson from the interactive session, Ms. Swan observed: "Getting clear about our stories, values, and what we stand for has become so important, and does take some dialogue from our teams.”  Regarding government workplace policies, Mr. Fry noted: "Current laws are based on the old premise that we won’t do anything good for our workers unless we’re made to do it—with competition for talent, that’s just not true anymore."  The Workplace 2020 Core Report—Making the Workplace Work—was highlighted as a blueprint for the Association's lobbying objectives over the next four years.  Mr. Fry also stressed the importance of CHROs weighing in on immigration issues as the availability of foreign-born workers with needed skills comes under increased attack. The panel also discussed the proliferation of state and local activity in the wake of the election, and the consequent creation of a State and Local Activity Committee, chaired by Teri Plummer McClure, Chief Human Resources Officer and Senior Vice President, Labor Relations at United Parcel Service, Inc.  Reaffirming the Association's commitment to advocate on behalf of the membership, Ms. Gherson reminded the conference, "It's better to be at the table than on the menu."  AHPI CEO Tevi Troy, who has authored several books on the presidency, offered a historical context for President Trump's relationship with business, and HR Policy CEO Dan Yager and Senior Vice President Tim Bartl provided updates on the policy agenda.

Political Experts Ask Where Prognosticators Went Wrong in Lead Up to 2016 Election

A post-election Washington Insiders' Roundtable, featuring former Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), Fox News' MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz, and Time columnist Elise Jordan, delved into the difficult questions beguiling pundits after broadly failing to predict the recent election's outcome.  Kurtz noted regarding the pre-election dismissal of President Trump's chances, "This is not just underestimating a candidate.  This was missing in a profound way what was going on in all those red areas – and in blue areas too – in the heart of the country... And the hurt and frustrations of Americans who don’t have jobs."  Davis examined the changing electorate of the Republican party, saying, "President Trump spoke directly to these folks through The Apprentice for 11 years.  He had an emotional connection with them."  Jordan discussed the mastery President Trump exercised over the media, observing that from the moment of his announcement to run, "he sucked all the oxygen out of the Republican primary."  On Saturday morning, BBC Lead Anchor Katty Kay gave the conference a global perspective on current U.S. politics, saying that among America's allies, "Nobody has interest in this presidency failing."  She further unpacked populist trends in Europe which have parallels to the 2016 election, especially Brexit.  On domestic issues, Kay observed, "This is the test of a populist government.  President Trump brought in people with little government experience on purpose." 

Saturday Morning Thought Leader: Hillbilly Elegy Author J.D. Vance

J.D. Vance, author of the number one New York Times bestseller Hillbilly Elegy, which was credited with providing in-depth insight into a demographic that swung hard for Donald Trump during the 2016 election, gave his thoughts Saturday morning on poverty and institutional decay in the "rust belt," and what employers can do to help solve the issue.  "Typically, when I speak to a group," Vance observed, "it's hard to find a connection.  But I don't have to do that here.  Among the institutions that have declined in these communities are businesses, which provide people with dignified employment, a sense of purpose and community."  Vance's observations contained criticisms of the prevailing political perspectives in the U.S. with regard to poverty, emphasizing the importance of healthy communities in facing the challenges he describes.  "Each side of the liberal and conservative perspective contains elements of truth," Vance stated, "but each missed out on something--the middle between the individual and the state--social and civic institutions."  He went on to describe companies as being able to provide these institutions for communities in hiring from their populations, mentioning that many from the region are unaware of certain codes of professional behavior and are unable to attend four-year colleges but make excellent workers nonetheless.

Conference Resources