Chief People Officer

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch

People & HR
Multiple locations
Posted on Friday, June 7, 2024

Multiple Office Locations Considered
Application Deadline: 4 July, 2024

The Chief People Officer (CPO) will be responsible for implementing Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) People strategy, and leading efforts to ensure a resilient and thriving staff community, in ways that reflect our global role, identity, and mandate. The CPO will foster a culture of success, accountability, transparency, and collaboration across multiple locations and jurisdictions.

Human Rights Watch investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world. The organization is roughly 550 people of 70-plus nationalities and includes country experts, lawyers, journalists, and others who work to protect the most at risk, from vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime, to refugees and children in need. It directs its advocacy towards governments, armed groups, and businesses, pushing them to change or enforce their laws, policies, and practices. To ensure its independence, it refuses government funding and carefully reviews all donations to ensure that they are consistent with its policies, mission, and values. HRW partners with organizations large and small across the globe to protect embattled activists and to help hold abusers to account and bring justice to victims.

HRW's researchers conduct work in over 90 countries, uncovering facts that create an undeniable record of human rights abuses. The organization writes detailed reports, news releases and tells the stories of what it finds, sharing them via social media with millions of online followers each day. News media often report on its investigations, furthering its reach. While it relies on in-person interviews, its research method has evolved to use technology – whether it is through using satellite imagery to track the destruction of villages and city blocks or mining big data for patterns in arrest rates or the deportation of immigrants – to deliver unimpeachable facts to those in positions of power to deliver human rights change, including governments, the United Nations, rebel groups, and corporations. HRW has also addressed abuses against those likely to face discrimination, including women, LGBT people, and people with disabilities as well as investigated and brought to light the baseless arrests of activists and political opposition figures. When it comes to ending abuses, some victories are big, and others are merely steps on a much longer journey to change. But each represents progress on the many issues HRW works on around the world. HRW’s work is centered in its commitment to justice, dignity, compassion, and equality.


The Chief People Officer will serve on HRW’s Executive Committee – the senior leadership team comprised of the organization’s six most senior executive leaders.

The CPO oversees the Global Human Resources Division which is comprised of approximately 15 staff members who are responsible for recruitment and onboarding, compensation, benefits, leave administration, performance management, learning and development, and employee and labor relations.


Leadership and Change Management

  • Create and execute an HR strategy that is aligned with the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan as well as HR and organizational development best practices ensuring buy-in to the HR strategy across the organization;
  • Lead initiatives in conjunction with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion at Human Rights Watch to align with our values and role in the human rights movement, foster effectiveness, and attract, support and retain talent;
  • Act as a trusted advisor and strategic contributor to senior leadership and internal teams and task forces to provide vision, leadership, coordination, and oversight on organizational initiatives relating to stress and resilience and internal accountability;
  • Advise senior leadership and managers and recommend proven best practice approaches that are fit for purpose at HRW to solving problems on complex HR issues;
  • Adjust the organization’s culture and processes to serve a rapidly changing internal and external environment;
  • Recruit/retain, lead, develop, and mentor direct-reports, including communicating clear expectations, setting performance objectives, providing regular and timely constructive feedback, ensuring balanced workloads, providing guidance on professional growth, and monitoring staff well-being as it pertains to stress and resilience issues and self-care; and
  • Communicate effectively and lead presentations, when necessary, with internal and external stakeholders including leadership teams, internal committees, staff, vendors, funders, and the Board of Directors.

Human Resources

  • Represent HR, identify gaps, offer best practice solutions, and provide guidance with regard to long-term institutional needs (e.g., staffing, salaries, benefits, diversity and inclusion, stress and resilience, professional development, personal conduct, accountability) and serve on institutional fora such as strategic staff committees and working groups;
  • Collaborate with in-house and outside counsel in multiple global jurisdictions on compliance with local statutory requirements including to draft and maintain contracts, employee handbooks, and HR policies;
  • Oversee organization-wide staffing of all positions including crafting and reviewing job descriptions; setting hiring procedures for recruitment, screening, interviewing, reference checks, and job offers; overseeing international visa petitions and relocations; and approving all hire letters and consultancy agreements;
  • Develop comprehensive, systematic approaches to employee onboarding, development, and retention by refining or creating compensation and benefits structures, career paths, employee development, succession planning, and learning opportunities as appropriate to the needs of the staff and organization;
  • Manage total compensation globally by setting initial salary bands/determinations and participating in salary reviews for all staff; conducting periodic salary and benefits benchmarking surveys within local labor markets and developing related salary protocols; and overseeing annual auditing and selection/negotiation of global benefits package;
  • Manage and resolve employee relations issues including overseeing employee disciplinary issues and performance improvement plans;
  • Enhance and oversee performance management including introductory reviews, annual performance reviews, quarterly check-ins, and 360 evaluation processes;
  • Develop innovative approaches to training delivery, including management training, professional development for staff, and effective onboarding processes;
  • Oversee, assess, and implement human resources information systems to meet the organization’s complex needs to effectively execute HR’s oversight responsibilities and to ensure HR systems, files, and databases are in compliance with applicable laws, in partnership with the HRW Information Technology and security teams; and
  • Perform other responsibilities as required.


The CPO will be an expert, collaborative, innovative, and visionary leader with outstanding people, communications, and management skills as well as the capacity and passion to play a leadership role in a global HR operation. It is critical that the CPO possess exceptional managements skills, an ability to motivate and inspire a global and experienced team, and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Both high intellectual and emotional intelligence are critical in order to communicate and influence effectively within a global, highly distributed organization.

The successful candidate will have at least 12-15 years of progressive experience in an HR leadership role, with at least five years of experience in a senior role, preferably in a large, dynamic, mission-driven environment operating internationally. A bachelor’s degree, or equivalent experience in a related field or equivalent certification (SPHR and/or GPHR). A master’s degree is desirable.

Specifically, the CPO should have the following skills and qualifications:

  • Experience supporting employees in multiple locations globally and building rapport and trust across all levels in the organization.
  • Track record of, and passion for, being a collaborative team player with excellent leadership, management, interpersonal, and organizational skills who can empathetically engage with staff across levels and
  • Track record of leading a mission-driven or business-aligned and enabling HR function.
  • Track record of identifiable and measurable successes in managing and advising on complex projects, implementing operational change, and ensuring high-quality deliverables.
  • Experience building inclusive workplaces and leading equitable practices across all HR functions.
  • Ability to coach colleagues to understand stakeholders’ perspectives and to handle high-level stakeholder challenges.
  • Track record of recruiting and retaining a well-functioning, top of class HR team.
  • Expertise and knowledge in all facets of human resources across multiple jurisdictions, including compensation or total rewards.
  • Excellent presentation, communication, public speaking, and listening skills.
  • A high level of professionalism and ability to work with sensitive and confidential matters by displaying strong judgement and leveraging outstanding relationship and diplomatic skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment to human rights and/or international issues.
  • Capacity to master and represent the mission of HRW.

The following skills and qualifications are desirable:

  • Proficiency in at least one other language in addition to English.
  • Proven experience in developing, implementing, and maintaining a fair and equitable global compensation philosophy.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers comprehensive compensation and benefits. HRW can offer a relocation assistance package and immigration support for this role if required, and people of all nationalities are encouraged to apply. If this position is based in the United States, the salary range would be USD 245,000-266,000. Salary ranges outside of the United States vary based on location.

How to Apply: Please apply by July 4, 2024, by visiting our online job portal at, and submitting a cover letter and CV or resume, preferably as PDF files. No calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed, and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Human Rights Watch is strong because it is diverse. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply. Human Rights Watch does not discriminate on the basis of disability, age, gender identity and expression, national origin, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or criminal record. We welcome all kinds of diversity. Our employees include people who are parents and nonparents, the self-taught and university educated, and from a wide span of socio-economic backgrounds and perspectives on the world. Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer.

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights monitoring and advocacy organization known for its in-depth investigations, its incisive and timely reporting, its innovative and high- profile advocacy campaigns, and its success in changing the human rights-related policies and practices of influential governments and international institutions.