Chief People Officer

Mercy Corps
November 11, 2020
Washington DC, United States
Post Type
Experience (minimum)
10+ Years
Education (minimum)
Not specified
Travel Required?
Base Salary
Not specified


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.  In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we collaborate to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Mercy Corps' People Team

The People Team ensures that Mercy Corps has the resources, systems, culture and support in place to drive an ambitious global mission while ensuring our individual team members thrive. With the support and contributions of the individual units, including Global Talent, Global Human Resources, Systems and Analytics, Total Rewards, Safeguarding, and Gender, Diversity and Inclusion (GDI), the People Team seeks to foster and achieve fulfilled, equitable, inclusive, diverse, and high performing global teams. We do this through recruiting and retaining the best global talent and shaping this talent into our future leaders through equitable development opportunities, and then by driving strategic partnership at all levels of the organization. We steward the organizational culture through our systems, structure, and processes and align conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, wellbeing, total rewards, learning and safeguarding priorities; and connect all of this to our core operations and overall mission.

The Chief People Officer 

As a member of the Executive Team, the Chief People Officer (CPO) leads Mercy Corps’ human capital work across the organization. As a trusted advisor and support to the CEO and executive leadership team, the CPO is responsible for optimizing all human resources activities and will lead significant people initiatives that impact organizational growth, strategy implementation, and cultural transformation across the organization. The CPO will be responsible for overseeing the functional units of the People Team and will work in close partnership with the Executive Team and Global Senior Leadership. The CPO will lead the People Team in engaging across the organization to champion a people culture grounded in our commitment to create an inclusive, psychologically safe and accountable work environment where every voice is respected and heard, as well as champion our commitments to addressing systemic racism in our People systems, and diversity, equity, inclusion more broadly.

We are seeking a CPO that will think globally, be collaborative, role model inclusive and growth-minded leadership, build strong teams, problem-solve and have a solutions-focused approach. The CPO must be  a systems thinker, who can help senior management handle the array of people challenges that might arise in the complex environments where we work and in a fully matrixed organization. The role also requires a doer, who is capable of rolling up their sleeves to execute solutions and operate a strategic People function.

Responsibilities & Transferable Skills: 

Leadership & Culture

  • Role model, create and sustain a diverse and inclusive work culture where all team members are supported and can thrive
  • Preserve a culture of trust, transparency, safeguarding, diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization
  • Recruit, develop, and mentor People Team Leadership to ensure healthy team dynamics and work in strong collaboration

Strategy & Vision

  • Develop and implement human resources strategies that align with the overall mission and vision of the organization, resulting in innovative, best practices and policies that will service the full range of Mercy Corps’ People-related needs and help build a high-performing equitable and inclusive culture of learning, accountability, transparency and collaboration.
  • Optimize the People function/team, modernize and refine key processes and activities aligned toward achieving strategic objectives.
  • Work in close collaboration with Mercy Corps Europe Interim Executive Director and HR Director to ensure alignment of People Team priorities.
  • Partner with senior leaders throughout the organization to proactively address critical HR and complex people management, GDI, and safeguarding issues (individuals and teams) and where needed, co-design interventions through insightful, innovative thinking and problem solving.
  • Ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion is not only prioritized as a People-team priority but also support its integration across other pillars of Mercy Corps.
  • Provide strategic guidance on special People-related initiatives HR analytics & reporting, talent reviews, training, change management, organizational design, diversity and inclusion, and safeguarding prevention-related efforts
  • Use data to drive decision making and transparency Human Capital Operations

People Team Operations

  • Ensure People Systems are high functioning, driving workflow efficiencies, data, and insights on our global team to drive strategic people conversations throughout the global organization.
  • Lead all Safeguarding efforts to ensure the safety of Mercy Corps team members and project participants.
  • Ensure that the GDI priority is adequately resourced and prioritized across the People Team as necessary
  • Respond to the HR demands of a global, highly matrixed organization with geographically distributed field offices; oversee the articulation of global HR policy at the country and regional level.
  • Proactively manage resource allocation and maintain a competitive approach to recruiting and assimilating high-potential talent throughout the world.
  • Advise on people programs and processes to enhance talent attraction, retention, development, and succession and ensure a strong employer brand by focusing efforts on the diversity of our global team.
  • Through the support and leadership of the Global Total Rewards Manager, effectively transition, communicate, and manage changes to team member benefit plans and equitable global compensation.
  • Ensure overall total rewards (compensation & benefits) policies and practices enable Mercy Corps to attract and retain the best global talent possible and according to local market conditions.
  • Procure financial and human resources by executive-level advocacy to ensure successful implementation of Mercy Corps' global people priorities.
  • Oversee the team member Well Being agenda for Mercy Corps, ensuring that policies, systems and support infrastructure is in place to help team members thrive in situations of day-day stress as well as in extremis.

Influence & Representation

  • Lead the department communication strategy in order to mainstream equitable compensation changes.
  • Maintain relationships with senior leaders to craft responsive and relevant HR policies and broader People-related processes and practices reflecting ongoing changes in countries' conditions by examining how those contextual changes impact staff.
  • Serve as a thought leader and key spokesperson in international development and human resources forums, internally and externally; lead efforts to capture and diffuse innovations, best practices and lessons learned, and create opportunities and incentives for knowledge sharing.
  • Partner with country leadership to build outstanding People functions everywhere Mercy Corps works to ensure all global people priorities are delivered at the highest possible standard in every location.
  • Communicate and uphold the organization's values and ensure that they come through in all key initiatives and people-oriented decisions


People Team Functions:  Global HR, Global Talent, Safeguarding, Learning, People Systems and Analytics, Gender Diversity & Inclusion, Global Total Rewards

Reports Directly To: Chief Executive Officer

Works Directly With: Mercy Corps Europe Executive Director & HR Director, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Sr. VP of Program, Executives, Regional Directors

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.


  • Bachelor's degree required, MA preferred
  • Minimum of 10+ years of experience in human resources management and related functions
  • Track record of leading large and complex human capital teams
  • Strong leadership skills with the ability to develop, manage and inspire others
  • Understanding of systems and data used to support a high functioning People/HR department
  • Ability to problem solve in stressful crisis and emergency situations and complex environments
  • Ability to maintain strict confidentiality of sensitive information
  • Established ability to communicate effectively, verbally and in writing, in a multicultural, face-to-face and virtual environment and with all levels of the organization.
  • Strong customer focus and understanding of how to deliver and communicate new ideas and change

Success Factors

The Chief People Officer will have a deep passion for strategic and globally complex human capital systems and practices. They will be able to partner with Mercy Corps’ senior leaders and executives, have deep technical global human resources expertise and will keep their team connected to and fully aligned with Mercy Corps’ business strategy.  With inclusivity and a reliable, leader-as-coach style, they will be able to handle multiple complex people challenges where emotions are charged, and sometimes, lives are on the line. They must be able to both see the big picture and chart direction and focus on the specifics of either individuals or individual projects and enjoy ‘toggling’ between the two.  They should be an expert facilitator and process designer, and have exceptional skills working with team members at all levels of the organization. They have demonstrated experience of leading organizational change initiatives, and are deeply reflective, willing to adapt and change course as new insights emerge. They are able to balance a participatory approach that builds ownership, with the knowledge of when to drive forward to a decision.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position is based in Washington, DC, USA as a preference, but is also open to Portland, OR and requires up to 25% travel to the field and other HQ offices where living conditions may be exceptionally rugged or be in volatile environments where security protocols will need to be followed. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis

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