No, there is no typo in the title. In today’s C-level world, CRO can stand for Chief Risk Officer, but can also mean Chief Reputation Officer.
By definition, the Chief Risk Officer looks after the governance of significant risks (both menaces and opportunities).
The Chief Reputation Officer supervises the management of an organisation’s reputation, brand and communications. Looking after risks and reputation are both vital functions for organisations.
The question is whether specific job functions are to be created for one or both of them. The definitive answer will depend on different factors.
Some consider the management of risk to be a key function at the CEO level. They see the devolution of this responsibility to a CRO or CRMO (Chief Risk Management Officer) to be a way for CEOs to shirk the responsibility for something that fundamentally determines the fortunes of an enterprise.
However for some industries requiring risk management on a daily basis, having a specific position for risk management makes sense. A CRO/CRMO in banking or insurance for example will be kept as busy as the Chief Manufacturing Office or a Supply Chain Director in a manufacturing-oriented company.
The debate about Chief Reputation Officers is often tackled from a different angle – the difficulty of coordinating multiple exchanges with the outside world, when nobody in particular is deemed responsible.
While silo management for risk can be inefficient and wasteful, disjointed communications or brand conflicts can lead to real damage and losses. One person needs to take a holistic view of the reputation of the whole organisation and manage it accordingly.
Yet it is also possible to simplify matters. There is a case to be made for having one person assume the positions of both CRO (Chief Risk Officer) and CRO (Chief Reputation Officer).
The two functions are sufficiently compatible to meld them into one job description, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. And as an added bonus, you won’t have to think up any more acronyms in order to tell the difference between your CRO and… your CRO.