Member Group committees - 2014 / 2015 consultation

Member Groups are managed by a committee elected by the members of the group at an Annual General Meeting (AGM). The committee has the power to set up subcommittees.

  1. Responsibilities

Member Group Committees are responsible for welcoming new members to their group, both by email when they join and in person when they first come to an event, guidance is available in document on sending welcoming emails.

  1. Members of Committee

The committee must have at least three professional BCS members, with two of them filling the roles of Chair and Treasurer. In addition, committee members may take on a range of other roles, for more details about the roles please follow the hyperlink http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/roles-committee-members.pdf.

To avoid a conflict of interest BCS staff may not be members of the committee, although they may be invited to join meetings where their knowledge and experience is relevant.

Non Institute members must abide by the BCS code of conduct and rules, the penalty for serious breaches is removal from the committee.

  1. Election of Committee Members

Committee Members are elected by members of the Institute either at the Member Group Annual General Meeting (AGM) or in an election using remote voting.  The committee may appoint replacements for committee members (including the Chair and Treasurer) that resign mid-year. As the Chair and Treasurer are essential for the effective running of a group they are specifically elected to their roles. A majority of the committee must be Institute members.

Where the Committee wishes to use remote voting they need to:

  • Talk to their contact on the BCS Member Group Team to check that resources will available to run the vote and to obtain templates for use in the following steps.
  • Ask Member Group members for nominations, which can include additional information to assist Member Group members to vote.
  • When asking for nominations the Committee must give at least two weeks before the deadline for nominations to be submitted.
  • Use the group’s website to make information about all candidates available to all those qualified to vote at least two weeks before the deadline for voting ends.
  • BCS HQ will then operate an electronic vote on the Member Group’s behalf.
  • The Chair and Treasurer will get the result of the vote, and can ask for a list of those who have voted if they wish to accept additional votes on the night.
  1. Co-opting Members to Committee

The committee can co-opt members to the committee as long as a majority of the committee (including co-opted members) are Institute members and the number of co-opted members does not exceed elected members.

  1. Term of Office

This is determined for each post by the committee, subject to a maximum of three years before re-election. One year is the norm, with all members of committee standing down and, where they wish, putting themselves up for re-election.

  1. Removing committee members

Committee members can be removed by a majority vote of the committee. There is a right of appeal to the Membership Board Policy Committee.

  1. Member Group Committee meetings

The Committee should meet regularly (either physically or electronically). Notice of committee meetings must be given to all members of the committee. The chair is expected to approve the minutes and an electronic copy of the minutes must be sent to the Member Groups Team mailto:groups@hq.bcs.org.uk    

The following documents:

provide further information on how best to conduct committee meetings.

  1. Quorum

33% of the membership of the committee, with a minimum of the Chair or Treasurer plus two other members of the committee constitute a quorum. If there are fewer members present (in person, by phone or electronically) the meeting cannot make binding decisions.

  1. Voting

A simple majority of elected committee members present is sufficient to decide a disputed decision. If there is a tied vote, the chair will have an additional deciding vote.

  1.  Public statements

What Member Group committee members say and publish (including on social media) should be appropriate for a representative of a professional body.  Communicating on behalf of any part of the Institute (including a Member Group) should only be done with appropriate authority. Criticism of the Institute should be kept out of public forums.

  1. Behaviour

BCS staff and Member Group Committee members are expected to respect each other and behave in a positive, cooperative and professional manner. If a BCS member has a concern about the behaviour of another member or member of staff they should discuss it with the Chair of the Membership Board. Ultimately the Code of Conduct is applicable. There is guidance on what is meant by acceptable behaviour at http://volunteer.bcs.org/Rules_guidance_acceptable_behaviour.

  1. Training

Committee members need to take the general and role specific training specified in in the training _requirements_table (to be added) within the time limit specified in the table.

 

Comments

Proposed training requirements

There is a proposal for Committee members to have to undertake training.
1 The training requirements table is shown as 'To be added'. It is impossible for us to make a properly considered decision without all of the appropriate information. This proposal should be put on hold until such time as we have all of the facts.
2 What control do the committees have over approval of any future changes to the contents of the table once it is published ? if we do not have appropriate safeguards we cannot approve it.
3 Will there be 'equivalency' qualifications that exempt committee members from training if they already have an equivalent or better qualification ?
4 Training course have the potential to deter people from volunteering because of the additional time and workload commitments required to complete it. We have enough demands on our time being committee members as it is.
5 I have been an BCS specialist group committee member for approximately 9 years and coped perfectly well without any form of training, what is the justification behind this proposal and why should I undertake training after all this time ?

Redundant sentence

Thanks Andy,

Well spotted, I've now removed to duplicate sentence.

Peter Buchanan (as Chair of the Membership Board Policy Committee)

I agree that a requirement

I agree that a requirement for training can act as a deterrent to people willing to volunteer for committee membership.

No rationale has been given about why committee members need to be trained or what they need to be trained in. Without that information, how could we possibly approve the change?

Training: No detail

It would be a travesty for the BCs to agree to such a requirement for Member Group Committees without full details of what this would involve. The devil is in the detail!

Training

One thing is for certain: you will lose committee members. It is difficult enough to coax new members onto Member Group committees. Remember we are all VOLUNTEERS. I have successfully managed BCS member groups (Branch and SGs)for 35 years. I do not need any "training".

We are all "professionals", by dint of our BCS membership. Surely that is enough?

What about those non-BCS members who are, by the (flawed) rules, allowed to serve on committees; how will they be monitored?

Training

I would change Training to Familiarization, to promote encouragement to participate. Remove the rules and promote a Coaching model.

Think about the What and How. Outcome should be to be successful in the Volunteer role. Not an expert in rules and policy. Nobody is looking to gain a credential through this.

Training

What is the outcome for those unable, or unwilling, to participate in the training?

Only the Member Group committee can remove a committee member (rule 6, above).

Committee role training

Given that I received no training when I took the role of Branch Secretary in 1998, I effectively made it up as I went along (with sterling support from Pam Bolwell) and I've now been the Branch Secretary every year since (16 years) I would be very interested to know what training HQ would propose I need. I am still disappointing over how the role of Branch Secretary appears to be denigrated by HQ...given that I help run the branch and when I was ill in 2004 a few branch open meetings didn't happen....

Committee role training

I've not had any feedback form HQ that suggests they are against the Secretary role. The reason the Policy Committee don't mandate the role is that we know there are groups that work well without having a Secretary. What we're trying to do with consultations such as this is to expose our thinkig to Member Group committees so that we benefit from committee members feedback.

Peter Buchanan (as Chair of the Membership Board Policy Committee)

Committee role training

The training table is being produced by the Membership Board Best Practice Committee so should reflect what committee members need. There are situations where there will be external pressure, for example the Trustee Board are insisting on Unconcious Bias traning, but this is very different from BCS staff imposing training.

Peter Buchanan (as Chair of the Membership Board Policy Committee)

Staff on member group committees

We've tended to operate on the principle that all members have the rights accorded to their grade. If a BCS member happens to also be an employee of BCS - or an existing office holder is recruited onto staff - it doesn't seem appropriate to deny them the opportunity to participate on a committee. The rules already require that they avoid conflicts of interest - both as officers and as staff members - so they should not involve themselves in matters where a conflict exists. If they do, they open themselves up to the double-whammy of disciplinary action; both as a member and as an employee! As long as we are clear whether someone is there as a member of staff or as a member, and we manage conflicts of interest professionally this should be entirely unnecessary - and if that were not the case then this rule change would offer no further protection!

re: role training

I'm sorry, but the words "The training table is being produced by the Membership Board Best Practice Committee so should reflect what committee members need" is a non-sequitur and still doesn't justify the initiative. To my knowledge nobody has asked us to contribute to that table, or offered the opportunity to review and approve the content.

As for Unconscious Bias training, I would point out that the majority of large organisations (and many others) already mandate equality and diversity training. I repeat all my original points and questions, especially number 3.

1 The training requirements table is shown as 'To be added'. It is impossible for us to make a properly considered decision without all of the appropriate information. This proposal should be put on hold until such time as we have all of the facts.
2 What control do the committees have over approval of any future changes to the contents of the table once it is published ? if we do not have appropriate safeguards we cannot approve it.
3 Will there be 'equivalency' qualifications that exempt committee members from training if they already have an equivalent or better qualification ?
4 Training course have the potential to deter people from volunteering because of the additional time and workload commitments required to complete it. We have enough demands on our time being committee members as it is.
5 I have been an BCS specialist group committee member for approximately 9 years and coped perfectly well without any form of training, what is the justification behind this proposal and why should I undertake training after all this time ?

Role Training

You have some good points here. I'm a member of Policy Committee (PC) and may be able to shed a little light on some things that might seem strange.

Best Practice Committee (BPC) used the convention last autumn to discuss possible training requirements for committee members and then develop some recommendations. We had been discussing it also at PC, mainly because I was a relatively new secretary of a branch and I didn't think what the rules said about activities of a secretary reflected what I was doing. I felt it would be useful for new secretaries, and others, to have some help about what was expected of the role on a BCS committee. Since then I have found that the roles are operated very differently in different branches and specialist groups and it all seems to work well for them. I still think it is useful not to bring preconceived ideas about the roles to the committees because what works well in a company or university might not work well in a committee of volunteers. Certainly my intention was to be helpful to new committee members, and those longer term members who might feel that they needed some advice on new ways of doing things. Any developments would be discussed with committee members at future conventions.

Regarding Unconscious Bias training, I couldn't agree more with you. As professionals we have usually had this sort of training at work. In my humble opinion, some people don't seem to understand what the issues are here and no amount of extra training will change there views and behaviour (sigh).

Any training needs to be online, or very few people will be happy to access it. We will most definitely have great problems getting anybody to volunteer to be on a committee if training is mandated, though if we were heading this way I would like your idea of being able to submit evidence that you'd already done something at least as good.

Training

As a potentially new committee member it would be nice to see what training you are proposing.
I've been involved with voluntary organisations before so I know certain roles have legal regulation around such as Treasurer.
Maybe I am better of waiting until you decide what will be required before I take the plunge.

Committee role training

Although I very much support the need for role training of committee members, I agree with the above comments about adding a time limit for recieving training being a disincentive to participation in committees. On asking people to join the (branch)committee the first question is almost always about how much time it will demand. People are volunteers and often the busiest people are the most productive committee members. My view is that training should be strongly encouraged but not mandatory and alternative experience/training should count as equally valid.
Second point is how would this be enforced? If an officer/committe member has not had the required training then would they be debarred from office? This could result in closing some member groups where not enough trained people are willing to serve on the committee.

BCS staff serving on member group committees

I believe that as long as any conflict of interest is made clear as different circumstances arise and necessary precautions are taken to manage this, ie all parties behave with the professionalism we expect from BCS members, then there should be no need for this new rule.

I agree, having been on

I agree, having been on various BCS committees for the last 17 years, placing more requirements on people in order to be "eligible to volunteer" will be counterproductive

Training

Whilst training that is appropriate and relevant to the role is obviously desirable, we don't want to make it even harder to recruit committee members.

I have yet to understand what "Unconscious Bias" is about, or how it is relevant!

Training

As per other comments, it should be desirable for potential committee members to receive training, however not mandatory.

It is already a challenge to get committee members, this will become a further challenge when individuals will be expected to take annual leave to attend training on top of the already challenging time commitments. We are volunteers, and the majority of committee members that I have met are still working, so any such expectation could only result in a negative outcome.

Training

I'm very sorry the table of courses has not been included as yet.

I'm pushing for the table to be consulted on in the same way as the rules are, I don't see this rule as a blank cheque to enable unacceptable impositions to be slipped in under the radar.

I do not expect there be a requirement for committee members to commit to taking annual leave to attend training. I'm expecting most training to be on-line with possibly some being delivered at convenient times locally. I'd like to think that training will reduce the load on committee members as they'll know how to find and use stuff so avoiding wheel reinvention (my ration of cliches for today).

Pete Buchanan (as Chair of the Membership Board Policy Committee)

Which sounds very reasonable.

Which sounds very reasonable. Except that I'm having to spend 3 hours next week travelling to and from Unconscious Bias training.

Hopefully it will be useful in my position as Branch Treasurer!

I appreciate the sentiment

I appreciate the sentiment that members do not need to take leave from their day jobs to undertake their BCS duties, I have. In the past year I have taken a total of two days off to help run events. I will be delivering talks to Universities this year which will require time off, I do this as I feel it is the right thing to do. I am not saying it is something I can afford to do but sometimes the right thing must prevail. However if I am also forced to spend time undertaking training, personally I think this would be the straw that broke.

If they were not mandatory, and could be used in our careers that would be a positive benefit especially considering the amount of time individuals already give.

Trainng for committee members

Peter
you still seem to be at odds with the overwhelming view of the respondents. The vast majority do not want this to happen. We are the members, we pay subscriptions and this is a democracy, please listen. If you have time-saving ideas just publish them as useful hints and tips and send them to the mailing list, please don't waste our time with unnecessary training that will cause resignations and deter a lot of potential committee members from volunteering. I firmly believe that you will do far more harm than good if you force this through.

Training

Being part of a committee that is struggling to keep its members and finding it difficult to recruit new member, this proposal is not practical.