Rules Consultation December / January 2015

The numbered entries below contain descriptions of the changes proposed in this consultation and links to the pages that contain the proposed revisions to the rules.

You are invited to comment here regarding the approach taken and any areas you would like to see changed and on each linked page regarding the specific changes. On each linked page both the existing text and proposed changes (in yellow) are shown so that the difference can be seen without flicking between pages

  1. Change PR and Advertising to avoid conflict between BCS Policy announcements and Member Group PR, see Rules_PR_consult_2015,
  2. To avoid a conflict of interest by not having BCS staff as members of Member Group Committees, see Rules_committees_2015_consultation,
  3. Introduce a table of training requirements for committee members and a rule saying that the specified training needs to be taken within a reasonable time, see Rules_committees_2015_consultation.

The consultation will run from Monday 29th December 2014 until Friday 23rd January 2015.



Do we distinguish between informal MG events and more explicit and widely recognised training?

I really don't see the point

I really don't see the point of having a rule against BCS staff being members of Group Committees. There are a number of cases in which BCS staffers have been a valuable addition to Committees, although I can understand that there is a potential conflict, but that can easily be resolved by the Chairman and the staffer.

Why discriminate against BCS staff?

If a member of staff joins BCS and is elected or volunteers to be on a committee, then why not?
Committees can allocate roles to anyone as needed, so why not BCS staff?
Anyone on a committee has a responsibility to identify any potential conflict of interest, so where is the issue?
Perhaps if there was more detail to describe the issue, then we could make more practical suggestions.


How can anyone comment sensibly on this rule without some idea of the training proposed? I agree with the principle that all committee members should have some training on their role (and if we're expected to conform to the rule about PR then perhaps a succinct overview of current BCS policy statements might be helpful from time to time). If its any more than say a refresher session for the whole commitee once a year or so then HQ will struggle to resource and committee members will struggle to find the time to attend.

I completely agree. You have

I completely agree. You have to set out what is involved.

It is also important to understand that not all Committee members are retired and so cannot necessarily make days for additional training available and/or incur the expense of travelling up to London or Swindon for such sessions. If such requirements are put in place, it could potentially be to the detriment of Committees. People are often inclined to say something like " I can make time for Committee Meetings, but..."

If training is a requirement then it should be pre-recorded and made available via the usual channels. That way there would be minimum inconvenience.

I'm concerned about the

I'm concerned about the amount of time that will be required for training, we already put a lot upon our volunteers, asking them to give even more time for training could be seen as just another burden. What value will our volunteers get from this training? If it's the unconscious bias training, then to be honest, as a professional myself who has had lots of recruitment training through my employment, I don't feel it would be beneficial.

Oh, and the CAPTCHA codes are too difficult to read! Now on attempt number 4!


You cannot possibly impose a training 'requirement' on voluntary committee members. What shortcomings do you see in committee members that makes you think this would be either desirable or necessary?

[Please change the Captcha to something more legible...]


What is the aim of imposing training requirements on voluntary committee members? Is there some specific issue that we're attempting to address or is it just an arbitrary requirement invented by someone who didn't think it through? Assuming this is really going to happen then we need some proper details of what is being proposed before people can make sensible comments on the likely issues and impacts. The most obvious questions would be how much time is it going to take, how much is it going to cost and who is going to pay for it?


I too am very concerned about the proposal to impose a training requirement on all committee members.

I can see the point in a requirement for OFFICERS, but that is very different. It is difficult to suitable people to serve. My committee has people from abroad,two from Scotland, excluding them when they have been elected by the members seems likely to reinforce the view that the BCS is undemocratic.

Training (Unconscious Bias)

With respect to the need for Unconscious Bias training I have three comments.

1. A study was undertaken of office bearers and committee members throughout BCS, and concluded that there was a significant number who displayed, albeit unconsciously, bias against people of one gender or sexual orientation or another, race, or disability, and Trustee Board has introduced the Unconscious Bias training to try to raise the awareness of that unconscious bias so that in BCS people are not discriminated against because of their gender, race or disability.  Unconscious Bias training is routinely and regularly implemented in many private and public sector organisations.

2. I understand that a decision has been made to deliver face to face training wherever possible, but I don't know how the locations for the training have been decided.

3. For those who are Treasurers, there will be an opportunity to attend the UB training at the start of the Treasurers Training day 10 February.

Iain Thompson


Training (UBT)

@Iain Thompson. Iain, that is fine and has my full support, but we are being asked to sign up to a much broader proposal which will inevitably narrow the pool of available committee members. It is clear the broad sweep of consultees are opposed to the proposal in its current form. If we were all convinced that the training would be implemented in a way which was sensible (from the point of view of >>>all<<< SG and Branch committee members, as opposed to HQ) a mandatory training programme would fine. But past behaviour gives no such confidence. The proposal should be modified to ensure training is provided in accessible form (whether for the Shetlands Island Branch or the East Croydon Branch, the AI Specialist Group or Digital Accessibility SG), to ensure there is meaningful consultation with group and branch chairs (at least) before training is made mandatory.


Can we see the results of this study? How was it conducted? Who carried it out? How did those doing the study determine someone's sexual orientation, or race?

What you also don't realise that we, as MG Officers and committee members, are all elected to our positions by the wider BCS Membership. So, by extrapolation you will have to train every single BCS Member to ensure they do not display any so-called bias.

What survey?

"A study was undertaken of office bearers and committee members throughout BCS" A little more detail please. When was the study? What were the results? Where are the results? Which committees? Are there legal ramifications?
"Face to face training" is this just for those who displayed bias?
"Treasurers Training day" presumably is just for treasurers who need training?

Rules ConsultationDec/Jan 2015

All these changes MAY have merit but without knowing the rationale behind these changes it is difficult to comment.
1. PR & Advertising. Branches should normally be publicising local issues and events which should not impact on 'policy' anyway. If there were some examples of publicity that did affect policy it would be easier to comment.
2. Conflict of interest. Is this not restricting the ability of committees to function? Surely they, the members, are best placed to identify (and exclude) any conflicts. Again examples would help.
3. Training. What is envisaged here? It does seem a bit draconian. As others have said it is difficult enough to get members to join the committee, without seeing examples it is difficult to comment on the efficacy (or otherwise) of this proposal.
Without more information I cannot see any benefit from any of these proposals.

Whenever I read the phrase

Whenever I read the phrase 'best practice' my blood pressure rises. Generally I've found this to be code for a collection of people who know nothing about the job in hand imposing a bunch of arbitrary requirements that they've read about on the web somewhere on the people that actually do the work. It's particularly incidious when those people are giving up their valuable free time to do the work for free. Aside form that though, it makes absolutely no sense to say you're consulting on the rules but then refusing to engage on the details of what changes you're actually proposing. That's not a consultation in any way I understand it.


"In practice I'd hope that knowing they will get the necessary support including trainng would encourage members to join the committee and take up demanding roles (like Treasurer)."

I completely agree that Committee members of all stripes need to be aware that training is available should they need it. However it is the making "obligatory" of training courses that gets people's backs up. If you have volunteered to serve on a Committee and have a full time job and in addition are obliged to take additional days off for training, then you are going to be very unpopular with your employer. That is a sure-fire way to kill off the list of volunteers, and thus ultimately to damage the SG system which has enough problems of its own at present.

I have an issue with the phrase "unconscious bias": if it is unconscious, how do I know that I have it, and how does anyone else know that I have it and that it is not simply **their** interpretation of my actions? It should simply be the goal of the BCS to recruit to all its committees etc, the best people for the job from among those applying. Nothing more.

Training for role?

"In practice I'd hope that knowing they will get the necessary support including trainng would encourage members to join the committee and take up demanding roles (like Treasurer)" is hard to understand.
If you have a mortgage, you are probably managing a budget larger than that for a group.
If you have worked in the industry for a number of years, you are handling budgets of a million or more, much more.
So how much more training does a treasurer require?

But, as others have noted, if there is an issue, let us hear what the issue is, and address the issue.
This approach always works better than any blanket mandatory requirement.

BCS as members of groups

Well I am in favour of BCS staff being members of groups. We are a knowledge sharing organisation and if they want to learn or can contribute why not let them be a member? I believe we are professional enough to know the difference.

What is the need for these changes?

1. I think a branch or specialist group should be allowed to comment publicly providing it is made clear that it is the branch/spcecialist group that is making the statement rather than the national body. When has this been a problem?
2. I am on the committe of the London South Branch and I don’t think we have ever had a BCS staff member on the committee. Indeed it is many years since one attended a committee meeting. I wouldn't have a problem with a staff member joining the committee unless he/she tried to tell us what to do! Saying he/she could join without voting rights is irrelevant as matters are normally decided by discussion and agreement, rather than voting.
3. I can see the need for training for some posts, such as treasurer for example, but unless it is specified what the training is and how long it is, how it is delivered, how much notice must be given and what happens if I don’t take the training then I am unable to support this change.

There has been some discussion via email within the committee of the London South Branch but the above statements are my own. Chris Lawrence, Treasurer, London South.

Rules change consultation

I agree with Chris Lawrence. I do not see the need for this specialist training axcept perhaps for treasurers.
In my 40+ years in the NHS I have had a number of training sessions re Disrimination and have managed bugets of Millions + pounds. I have also chaired and been a member of numerous committees as part of the jobs I have had. I cannot see any reason that members like me would hae any need of additional training. It is easy to say that all members must receive training but it would be better to evaluate the need before applying to everyone.
I must say I am amazed at the level of subconscious discrimination reportred by tour survey, has this been validated in any way.
Barrie Winnard President London and the South East Health Informatics Group

PR via HQ PR staff?

Groups to "......... avoid statements that include (or might reasonably be interpreted as implying) any policy or position-taking announcement by BCS - without first consulting the HQ PR ....." sounds like censorship. So let us put a stop to this right now.
We are professionals. We have opinions. So our Society should trust us to do the right thing.
I cannot imagine anyone at a random interview saying that "the BCS is in favour of open-source technology", but I cannot see what is wrong with saying that "we personally see benefits in open-source technology". If HQ PR is blocking the latter, that is censorship.

It is more logical that the change to rules be "reversed". HQ PR must consult with Groups for any policy or position-taking announcements within that Group's area, before they make a statement. After all, we are the experts. That is why we are in a group.

Training required for spelling?

"Intoduce a table of training requirements"
How seriously are we to take training requirements that are being defined by people who cannot spell? Or, manage the process to put out their message.

You misunderstand

Mr Buchanan, a typo in a comment or a reply would not generate any response from me.
However, setting up a web-page demands certain basic processes. At the very least, the minimum of a spell check.
Take any basic training for how to give presentations, and you will hear that poor spelling will loose you any credibility. And what is a web page but a presentation?

As we are a computer society, our standards need to be higher than that of the general public.

As we are part of the Engineering Council, our standards need to be higher still. After all, part of any engineering process is to have a professional do the work, then have someone check the work, and someone to check the check.

So my comment is based on the expectation that all processes at the BCS follow good engineering practices.

To find a simple web page does not use basic good practice, implies all processes are broken. If simple things are not done properly, what chance is there for something complex, like training, to be done well.

So yes, I could have pointed out the typo "sotto voce", but the real issue is that the process is broken. And we all need to hear that.

BCS London (South) Response

Dear Sir, Madam

The response of the BCS London (South) branch to the consultation on proposed revisions to the rules are:
1. As a branch we have always been careful to coordinate with HQ regards any outreach event to ensure no potential conflict of interest (e.g. CGW event), and to ensure any statements we wish to publish could not be misconstrued. The branch committee has no issue with BCS HQ advising branches on a communications policy but agree that this should not be so draconian as to prevent us performing our branch business - let common sense prevail

2. What conflict of interest do the BCS suspect of staff members? Do we next say 'consultants' cannot be committee members because of possible conflict of interests? Unless the BCS can provide evidenced or suspected examples we the branch committee do not see a reason to impose this rule

3. In regard to training the branch committee agree with previous responses, that it is already hard enough to get volunteers and that any compulsory training may dissuade potential members. However where provided as non-compulsory familiarisation workshops (e.g. the role of the board, chair, treasurer etc) particularly for new/young members and where completion could be linked to credits for award of the CITP we see a value

For and on behalf of the branch committee BCS London (South)
Eur Ing Dr. Douglas JS Legge

Training (UBT)

I am in receipt of a report from the BCS Registrar entitled: "Diversity project – Unconscious Bias training
Evaluation report December 2014"

It states, inter alia,

"The Trustee Board has also requested the Membership Board to update the member groups’ rules to include the training as a role requirement and the formal redress process has been accepted."

This seems to imply this is a done deal. Is this consultation process redundant?

Since the overwhelming response so far is that any mandatory training is considered unworkable for the many reasons the respondents have stated, it would be a travesty for the BCS if the results of this "consultation" process were to ignored.

Re: Ian Thompson's post on 15

Re: Ian Thompson's post on 15/01/2015 about "A study was undertaken of office bearers and committee members throughout BCS..." for Unconscious Bias. In the report I mentioned above "Diversity project – Unconscious Bias training Evaluation report December 2014" I received from the BCS registrar, there is no mention whatsoever of the "study" to which Iain refers.

Clarification please?