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BMC AGM (Read 2907 times)

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#75 Re: BMC AGM
April 16, 2019, 07:47:22 pm
The discussion here encapsulates quite nicely why I don't think I will ever seek a volunteer position of any responsibility whatsoever with the BMC.

Which is a real shame... Aside from other roles which Shark rightly points out are less political, the BMC does need to transparently review the Nominated Director process, not to change any past results, but to ensure that in future volunteers who are willing to put their head above the parapet, and challenge the status quo, are not disenfranchised by poor process.

Thanks to Andy Syme for pushing on with gathering feedback on these issues so they can be tackled at NC (and assumedly local areas too)

I really doubt anything in that meeting swung the vote.

For me, this is less about the outcome of the vote, than it is some of the behaviours that were present in the lead up to the AGM (and somewhat present at the AGM), that led to the process not going as it should have done both for the Nominated Directors, the accounts and other issues prior too. I'd agree other things probably affected the vote more than anything on the day itself, although I suspect abstaining from giving a husting speech (as did Kaye) didn't help guide a significant block of discretionary proxy votes in either Kaye or my direction!

Of course, when an organisation starts to implement better governance practices, it starts to peel away the layers and reveal historical practices underneath. This is a good thing, but only when dealt with in a transparent way to members.

Transparency and good governance are natural bedfellows, and they both lead to greater accountability, which is a good thing in any organisation, but particularly so in a members' organisation. My personal view is that all positions of leadership need to accept that. As the BMC is in a governance transition period, decisions need to be made with real care and thought looking to the longer term likely outcomes from the ODG work, rather than risking setting precedents, or possibly undoing some of the good work that's gone before. We also need to be careful with new rules and regulations, as they might not be perfect and need an iteration here or there.

Here's some facts as they lie now:

As a Director at the time of the AGM I abstained from the vote on the accounts
As a Director at the time of the AGM I voted against the auditors
The ODG MoU wasn't signed at the AGM (it was minuted at Board to happen)
An excellent Nominated Director female candidate (Rebecca Ting - I have checked she's happy to be named) for fundraising dropped out before the AGM papers were released. It almost led, but perhaps regrettably didn't, to my own withdrawal from the process.
The number of AGM voters dropped from > 6000 in 2018 to around 2000 in 2019
There was no, or very little, social media or ongoing membership engagement push about voting until the day of the proxy voting deadline
The BMC board is now 25% female, which is short of the 30% SE gender diversity target in order to meet the SE code. This is actually a backward step for the BMC who has had > 30% for the last 2 years, and was essentially a requirement in 2017. I'm unaware as to whether this will affect SE funding again.

Genuine mistakes happen, and that's absolutely fine, but there is a line between individual responsibility and Board collective responsibility. Humility, accountability and transparency are values that I'd like to see more of, and help fix errors properly to build a better BMC for everyone.

Gareth (Board Chair) has committed, subject to formal Board approval, to discuss the outcomes of the NC discussions at the Board in July and then to commit to addressing the issues as we can in time to ensure there are fewer questions/issues at the next AGM.

Likewise, hopefully a positive outcome from this, and thanks to those involved. Obviously the thoughts above are higher level issues than any more specialist concerns with respect to ODG which is on the whole is progressing well (with a few twists and turns and blockages...) thanks to the committed team of volunteers.

And, for the absolute governance geeks, there's an excellent article in The Governance Institute magazine this month, that describes the process British Cycling to improve its governance and meet the SE/SRA codes. Obviously British Cycling is a different beast to the BMC with respect to participation/competitive nature, but the parallels of the issue faced with respect to improving its internal governance are remarkable.

Most things I agree with and have been discussed upthread. There are some things I do think need further clarity or look wrong:

Transparency in company governance means something different to its normal meaning in English. There are numerous acceptable exceptions where company information does not need to be disclosed and plenty of clear advice on what does. I think the BMC goes beyond standard transparency governance requirements, as a membership organisation should. I see no serious issues of Transparency in governance terms from the outside and if you saw this from the inside I would be asking what you did about that?

As an well connected outsidier, I'm really perplexed why you would abstain from voting for the accounts and also that you would say that in public here. Ditto wrt voting against the auditors. This is serious stuff (although  I would understand if you feel its not appropriate to comment further).

If there were gender issues that seriously concerned you in the ND elections why didn't you push for a gender reserved ND post, and if that was refused by the Board (something that would seem weird to me)  resign from the election? I simply don't understand your gender percentages for the Board. Emma has now left and Fiona has gone in so there is no gender balance change I can see since the last AGM. At the 2018 AGM Amanda came onto the Board.. at that time adding an extra woman). I'm not aware the BMC has ever had >30% female representation (4+ board members).

I assumed the MOU wasn't signed was because the meeting hit the end time before completion of the agenda.

Finally some news articles showing British Cycling had really serious governance issues and why these regular comparisons with the BMC look bizzare to me.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/39811492

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cookson-and-browning-face-calls-to-resign-after-report-into-british-cycling-pzj55khcz




JR

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#76 Re: BMC AGM
April 16, 2019, 10:45:43 pm

Transparency in company governance means something different to its normal meaning in English. There are numerous acceptable exceptions where company information does not need to be disclosed and plenty of clear advice on what does. I think the BMC goes beyond standard transparency governance requirements, as a membership organisation should. I see no serious issues of Transparency in governance terms from the outside and if you saw this from the inside I would be asking what you did about that?

As an well connected outsidier, I'm really perplexed why you would abstain from voting for the accounts and also that you would say that in public here. Ditto wrt voting against the auditors. This is serious stuff (although  I would understand if you feel its not appropriate to comment further).


I felt strongly enough about it to vote as I did, but clearly the detail of some of these matters, and what I did about it, are confidential. Agree with your sentiments in general here though.


If there were gender issues that seriously concerned you in the ND elections why didn't you push for a gender reserved ND post, and if that was refused by the Board (something that would seem weird to me)  resign from the election? I simply don't understand your gender percentages for the Board. Emma has now left and Fiona has gone in so there is no gender balance change I can see since the last AGM. At the 2018 AGM Amanda came onto the Board.. at that time adding an extra woman). I'm not aware the BMC has ever had >30% female representation (4+ board members).


With respect to %s, my mistake on this one. Thanks for correctly challenging. However, don't forget the Board was only 9 large before AGM 2018, but there were issues around when independents appointed etc. You're absolutely correct for this AGM. It doesn't change the fact that the BMC is still short as it is, and had a real opportunity not to be. I'll ask Shark to put a note on the original post to highlight an error.

Things were clearly time pressured with respect to various processes and I'm confident that with hindsight things would be done differently, but that's the benefit of hindsight. Obviously I'm not going to disclose confidential Board conversations, I did discuss the gender target, and raise many other issues with the process, but for most of the process I was out of the Board discussions as conflicted on the matter, and the voting "buckets" were decided after interviews etc. We definitely had the opportunity to hit that gender target, and votes and buckets as they were, my withdrawal wouldn't have made a difference. I actually withdraw an election nomination previously in order to allow a female candidate to stand, but that's another story...


I assumed the MOU wasn't signed was because the meeting hit the end time before completion of the agenda.


Perhaps so, but disappointing not to be mentioned even if time pressured given the huge amount of work that went into it, and the gravity it was given to get things through last year. I don't know, but hope those involved are given an explanation.


Finally some news articles showing British Cycling had really serious governance issues and why these regular comparisons with the BMC look bizzare to me.


The comparison can obviously be stretched too far. The article is high level, and felt relevant from my perspective. Happy to send it you if you're interested.

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#77 Re: BMC AGM
April 17, 2019, 10:12:44 am
Thanks for straight up admitting your mistake on the Board gender balance. Still as a very recent Director complaining about the subject its a very peculiar one to make. Prior to 2017 I've forgotten the exact numbers on Exec (probably 11 members ?) but prior to the 2018 AGM it was only 9 on a practical basis as there were 2 vacancies:  2 independents (and a formal vacancy as there would have been a third if Amanda hadn't been pointlessly blocked by procedural trouble makers), 3 NC members, 2 VPs (with a technical vacancy as Nick was acting up) ,  the acting President and Treasurer. Looking back it seems weird and destructive now that all that fuss was made about Amanda requiring AGM ratification before doing any work. The gender percentage prior to the 2018 AGM was 22% if you ignore the periods of Emma's maternity leave (11% otherwise).

On the Target it's aspirational (clearly so, as the BMC is back in receipt of SE funding) and I expect it to be met within a few years.

If we could view outcomes in different 'multiverses' with different 'hindsight decisions', assumjng Rebecca didn't stand down as a candidate, I'd lay odds that she would have won more often than any others (as one of two in a women only NC election or in some open elections as one of n candidates... with n being 2, 3 or 4). As such I think you making a stand could  have made a real difference and certainly would have been consistent with your previous decision to stand down (one of several reasons I voted for you).

Things being time pressured is one of the BMC understatements of all time.  Since Gareth took up the Chair role in November, I really wonder what he thought about all this work in such a short time, with the AGM moved from its normal  June slot to March. I am certainly  super-impressed with his level headed approach to such a situation.  As for the work itself,  the ODG stuff was planned but complex, hard and thankless (as most members simply don't care), as such the decision to progress fast was I think the absolutely correct one. Then we had:  the insurance claim and subs issue and the impact of that on clubs;  an exceptionally busy time on comps issues; issues with the accounts;  the need to agree non Board replacements for the VPs (the choice in the current articles being a single Deputy President... that I think looks too few cf other similar organisations and may need to be revisited); and the usual trouble makers like Dennis wittering on in his Footless Crow article about the (potentially libelous) 'beergate' BMC conspiracy.  I'm more positive than Will, as people on the internet and down the pub always took potshots at the BMC but depite this thousands of volunteers continue with good work and with hundreds of them in formal designated roles of some sort. The BMC volunteering base is very healthy, and its remit has never been more important, given the recent Active Lives survey results.

On your votes I get your strong feelings; it's your need to publish your vote here (and leaving the issues behind it hanging) that confuses me, especially as someone who was recently a Director.

I've got the British Cycling document cheers.



« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 10:32:00 am by Offwidth »

JR

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#78 Re: BMC AGM
April 17, 2019, 05:55:55 pm

the need to agree non Board replacements for the VPs (the choice in the current articles being a single Deputy President...


There's quite a long debate behind that one, as you almost certainly know, given it's something you've brought up a couple of times here. It definitely needs sorting, but there were very good, and very well reasoned discussions behind why that couldn't be done, particularly as proposed at the 11th hour. There are plenty of mechanisms to get good volunteers to support on particular tasks in the interim if needed, and if asked, and worst case stand in for the President. It's rightly a core part of the NC reconstitution work.

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#79 Re: BMC AGM
April 17, 2019, 08:28:03 pm
I have brought it up several times as it's rather in my face. It's not quite reached the point I question my climbing partner if she 'really wants to lead that' but the current lack of cover is a big concern. The BMC could also do with a senior volunteer  for the Keswick festival,  which is before the June NC meet (that I understand will make decisions on the subject) ....as the President is doing a long Scottish traverse route in May. The last elected President didn't serve a full 3 year term and the last acting President unexpectedly (at least for me) didn't stand for President in 2018, pretty clearly indicating it's not an easy or comfortable role.

I fully understand there have been Board and National Council (NC) discussions on Deputy President  (DP) but awareness of the role  doesn't seem to have reached most members (whom the DP will represent): the question was asked again of the President  at the AGM ....'what occurs if something happens to you?'.  So, not being party to the detail of these discussions I  cannot see why most other bodies (when they had what must have been similar discussions) decided they need so many of them. If the BMC decides to continue DP elections from NC and to continue to elect from those candidates for Nominated Directors (ND candidates above the line on interview) from the membership, it looks the exact opposite of what would seem a normal route to me. Hence, the two arrangements if ongoing seem back to front to me .. I'd prefer members to elect DPs and NC to elect NDs.

I have no issue at all with a DP exceptionally  being elected in 2019  by NC, given the timings:  pragmatism in action.

So what makes us so different from all the other similar bodies on the DP/VP  front? You would certainly seem to have no trouble filling such prestigious posts. One reason I've heard against them is 'perceived succession' which seems bonkers to me. It also amused me that the ND elections had a Director succession issue with no apparent concerns at all. I see succession concerns as a red herring, as it seems to me the BMC wants plenty of such candidates that have the skills and experience to stand as President. In some organisations where I've been on a national body  (UCU is a good example), the VP was a formal succession step; a couple of years before becoming President, partly to ensure they hit the ground running with experience and to arrange sabattical cover... so the UCU VP election was the key election for future UCU presidents,
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 08:34:41 pm by Offwidth »

Andy Syme

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#80 Re: BMC AGM
Yesterday at 11:46:22 pm
Steve

I'm fairly neutral on VPs; there are advantages and disadvantages.

Going back in time, the ORG were clear that VPs should go, partially I assume as in meeting SE requirements made VPs on the Board problematic.  As the members wanted ODG in 'spirit of the ORG' so the articles were changed.  There was no issue with 'losing' a President as we already had articles that cover that. 

Lynn brought up the issue of workload and the 'elected VP' at a very late stage in the articles change process.  There was a significant debate in the ODG and all the ODG members felt that we did not have time to consider all the issues/implications and change the articles in a way that ensured that we did not inadvertently introduce more issues.  Also there was not time to get candidates to volunteer and only allowing elections from the floor was seen as disadvantageous to the majority of members.  We could however see Lynn's point about needing support and, while she could always just ask for more support from NC members, felt it was reasonable to add the deputy role as a stop gap until the VP issue could be properly worked through or as a potential long term solution if VPs were to remain 'gone'.

I assumed that the Deputy would be pre-nominated at one of the 2 NC meets before the AGM, or elected in a special NC meeting straight afterwards, but this wasn't done hence the delay till June.

The VP issue does need looking at for next year and that is part of the NC reconstitution work that is being progressed at the moment.

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#81 Re: BMC AGM
Today at 01:23:29 pm
The "independent member reps" on the members' assembly as recommended in ORG could fulfil this. It was essentially left for the NC/MA/ODG to work this out. They don't necessarily have to be independent in the true sense of the word for SE, but it would be sensible to directly elect them from the members. How those roles are cut and named is totally up for debate. We (ORG) intentionally didn't call them VPs so they weren't confused with the existing structure, nor implied succession, but I know there are different schools of thought on how best to implement that, and it definitely needs discussion.

This is why I was keen to push the NC reconstitution work at a faster pace than some wanted (particularly these roles), as there are some of these gaps left as a result which has required some pragmatism to resolve in the short term. I know Mark is now very capably chairing this and moving things along.

The idea and principle I think we're all in broad agreement. As Andy said, it was raised as an issue at such a late stage. It was within ODG almost unanimously felt to be unimplementable in the form proposed in the time frame, and it actually became quite a distraction at a really busy time, where we'd already come to the pragmatic compromise of the NC internally sorting for a year, in advance. It would then give time to build the awareness of these roles.

I do think if support is needed, then people simply need to be asked. The level of workload taken on, in some respects, is a personal choice, and I know from my own experience of BMC volunteering folk are more than happy to help build a really supportive team and get their hands dirty.