Member Group Committees (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. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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 (link) is applicable.

 

Comments

What guidance should be given around point 10?

Different people will have different views of what is "appropriate" for a representative of a professional body to say and publish. How is appropriateness to be decided?

Unsurprisingly, I have a personal interest here. My social media use is extensive, and in some cases I'm sure some folks would consider that my responses to public topics (in particular) are inappropriate for a representative of their professional body. I believe they're perfectly reasonable, but I have no guidance on how BCS would interpret them. If there is no further guidance on this topic, I will have to assume the worst (a censor's charter) and will therefore resign from my current position.

Guidance on Point 10

Peter,

You raise an interesting question. On behalf of MB Policy Committee I did look in to drafting a set of guidelines on social media use for BCS officers and members. After some considerable research, ably assisted by other members, I presented a summary of my findings to MB Policy Committee. The upshot of our subsequent discussion was that there was no set of guidelines that would be both current and at the same time broad enough to encompass all forms of social media. We decided that points 10 & 11) along with the Code of Conduct provided sufficient guidance.

My own view is simple, the golden rule applies here as elsewhere in life, 'tweet about others as you would have them tweet about you'.

In particular, criticisms of BCS that are publicly aired by members who have not taken them through the dispute resolution process (in full) are in my view both inappropriate and irresponsible. By comparison, if I wanted to publicly complain about my employer, I would first have to resign if I did not wish to be subject to the companies business conduct guidelines and disciplinary sanctions.

Guidance on Point 10

(Apologies for the delay in coming back to this)

My concern is not around my statements in relation to the BCS; the statement is understandable (though unpleasant) in that context.

I counsel various people in capacities quite unconnected to the BCS, often communicating with them via social media on public / semi-private / private channels depending on the group, and due to the nature of the work some of the conversations can get (for example) very graphic very fast. Undoubtedly there are people who consider these conversations inappropriate for *anyone*, let alone a representative of their professional body. On the flip side, I've probably prevented at least one suicide via such communication. Should I stop in case someone considers this communication to be inappropriate? How could I decide?

Public statements

Section 10 is too imprecise. Who gives the explicit authority? Does advertising a member group event count as speaking on behalf of BCS? Is critcizing BCS at a branch meeting forbidden? One never knows who might be present.

Behaviour

There is presumably a reason for adding section 11 but it is insulting to the vast majority of members. Delete it.

Behaviour

I'm confused by David Muxworthy's statement on Section 11: "it is insulting to the vast majority of members". Has there been some poll on this subject that would qualify David's statement with facts?

Public Statements

I just completed a piece of eLearning on this subject that I found to be very clear and simple to follow. The given was that when speaking about the organisation concerned, ensure that you make it clear the views and opinions you offer are exclusively your own and not those of the corporation or any other person.

Statements such as "It is my view", "In my opinion", "My understanding is", "It is my belief that" are examples of how one might ensure that a view or opinion expressed is qualified as being that of the individual rather than than a body corporate. Generally only certain officers of the organisation concerned are authorised to make public statements such as "XYZ Corporation's view is", "The XYZ's policy on this is", "XYZ believes that", and so on.

If ever I were in any doubt, I would ask for and obtain guidance from BCS Press & PR before making any public statement that might be construed as representing BCS corporate rather than my own views and opinions.

Responsibilities of BCS Officers

The paper referred to in point 7 (Responsibilities of BCS Officers) has wider scope than just committee meetings. By becoming a Member Group Committee member an individual becomes a BCS Officer and agrees to be governed by the terms of this paper.

Behaviour

OK, to be precise I should have said that it is my opinion that section 11 is insulting to the vast majority of members. I apologize if that was not obvious. Section 11 should not be necessary for group committee members in a professional society. My comment was partly intended to prompt a reply as to why it was included in the draft.

Behaviour

David,

Thank you for the clarification. I agree that the proposed rule no. 11 should not be necessary. All BCS members and employees should at all times abide by the golden rule 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. Sadly we live in an imperfect world where there have been and very likely will continue to be situations under which the golden rule is not applied. I for one take no insult at being reminded that BCS committee members and BCS staff should always conduct their dealings in a professional manner, cooperating with each other and maintaing a positive outlook. This proposed rule is no more insulting to me (and I hope the vast majority of BCS members) than the BCS Code of Conduct which I agree to abide by, even if in a perfect world that too should not be necessary.

Public Statements and Free Speech

Point 10; "Criticism of the Institute should be kept out of public forums."
This is heading towards censorship. I agree that complaints and disputes should be raised up the hierarchy to start with. However, when the powers that be are actively just giving one side of the story, the members must be able to get their views out on another platform! Maybe "should be initially" instead of "should be".

Public Statements and Free Speech

Peter,

Nothing in the rules constrains the freedom of speech of a BCS member, that is enshrined in law. What the rules do is guide disputes through the proper channels.

I am not familiar with the scenario you allude to where 'the powers that be are actively giving one side of the story'. Whom-so-ever these powers might be I would expect them to keep disputes out of public forums, and certainly not publishing false, misleading or derogatory statements in public forums about BCS, its members or member groups. Were such a thoroughly reprehensible and unprofessional situation to occur, I would hope that the members or member groups so impuned would not rise to the bait and attempt to counter one wrong with another.

On a more fundamental level, I do not recognise the implied 'us and them' division that such a scenario paints, whereby there are 'members' and there are 'the powers that be' as distinct from the voting members of BCS who have the constitutional power to elect officers from among the membership to govern the BCS.

Behaviour

Paul,
Maybe our differences are generational. When I joined the Society in the 1960s the default was to assume that everyone would behave in a professional manner. Now, despite the BCS becoming a Chartered Institute, it appears to be that people need 'reminding' to do so. The tone of section 11 looks to me more appropriate to a young offenders' institution. Is this mode of addressing people likely to attract new members?

Behaviour

David,

I think values of respect and decency in dealing with others are timeless, and should be devoid of any generational context. I took no offence at the age of 11 when I was required to learn, recite and abide by a set of seven positively worded rules that have been adopted around the globe for over a century now, the last of which was 'A scout has respect for himself and others'. Perhaps if we all lived by those seven positively worded rules, there would no young offenders or adult offenders?

Section 11

All BCS members have agreed to abide by the Code of Conduct. Part of this reproduced below

"You will uphold the reputation and good standing of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
You will act with integrity and respect in your professional relationships with all members of BCS and with members of other professions with whom you work in a professional capacity"

I therefore tend to agree with David here, I feel the language of the first bit of section 11 could well be seen as patronising, it did raise my hackles a bit, and is also unnecessary. Surely all that is needed is something like 'Any member should duscuss any possible Code of Conduct concerns with the Chair of the Membership Board'?

Section 11

Roz,

That's two very good points you make:

1) The Code of Conduct does indeed already require that which the proposed rule seeks to encourage. I hadn't spotted that (I wonder if my colleagues on MB Policy Committee had?). On the face of it, the Code of Conduct negates the requirement for this new rule, and since the Code of Conduct is a higher governance document than the Rules for Member Groups, it would (if the two were in conflict - which they are not) override the Rules for Member Groups anyway.

2) I can see how the proposed new rule could be read by some as patronising. If that's an objection to the proposal rule, then the Code of Conduct's far more direct and prescriptive wording on this subject is surely - even more patronising, albeit at a higher level of governance that trumps the possibly patronising tone of the proposed new rule ;-)

Speaking out

I don't see the two as equivalent. The rule in the Code of Conduct could, in my view, mandate speaking out about (say) some part of the current BCS in order to maintain the reputation of the BCS as a whole. Rule 11 prevents whistleblowing; the Code of Conduct allows it.

'explicit authority'

In rule 10 the above phrase is used and in 'my opinion' it is meaningless without further definition. In its extremes it could result in a member group never issuing any comment of any kind (including meeting invites or notices) or referring back to 'an authority' constantly to obtain approval. The middle ground is therefore inconsistency which is of no good to anyone. I suggest that either the definition of 'authority' is included, which is probably quite extensive or that aspect of the rule is removed and the intent of the rule is left to the Code of Conduct, Duty to the Profession, which seems to me to cover what this rule is attempting to control.

Explicit authority

The purpose of the rule is to remind committee members that they should make sure they have authority to make statements. A committee that organises an event has explicit authority to publicise it, they don't necessarily have authority to say what the BCS policy on the subject is. If an event is likely to be around an area of policy I would expect the event organisers to get a copy of the appropriate policy and ask for authority to quote it.

The problem we are trying to solve is committee members potentially bringing the BCS into disrepute by guessing a policy rather than making sure they know what it is and have authority to speak (and be able to answer questions) on it. Like many rules, this shouldn't be necessary but this debate suggests there is some ambiguity on what Member Group committee members can legitimately say.

a useful example is the MBPC itself, we publish agendas, minutes and other working papers as well as rules that are within our ToR. I wouldn't say what the BCS policy on areas outside our ToR, and I'd expect the press etc. to accept I wasn't a competent authority to make such comments.

Rule 11

For me the singling out of BCS Staff and Member Group Committees invalidates the rule, or is this rule to be replicated throughout all BCS rules were there is a relationship between two parties specifically involved. I therefore agree with Roz Foad that the Code Of Conduct covers the issue which make rule 10 unnecessary.

Re: Rule 11

I'll confess to a certain wry amusement that the rule as drafted applies to the committee members but not to the staff, due to its inclusion here. I think anyone who kept up with the events around the EGM has a pretty good idea as to why it's been included, but it does seem at best redundant and at worst one-sided.

Rule 11applicable to BCS staff

Rule 11 is applicable to BCS staff. The Member Groups Team is represented on the MBPC and I'm confident that there will be no problem if a staff member violates this rule. I think it is really important that rules that cover staff and member behaviour are symmetrical and avoid any perception of different standards for them and us.

Rule 11

I didn't doubt that it covered staff also, I just don't think it is necessary to state it here and not state it in everywhere in the rules of the BCS. I don't believe it should be stated in every rule and therefore I don't think it is required here either.

Thanks Len, I'm not

Thanks Len, I'm not completely sure I understand so please accept this as my attempt at clarity not a criticism.

Following debate at Membership Board, I as chair of the Policy Committee, felt it would be helpful to say something on our expectations of behaviour. The relationship between Member Group committee members and BCS staff is likely to be tighter and more frequent than other relationships in the BCS family. This section has been added because there have been frictions and it seemed to us that simply saying what is expected would help staff and volunteers work together.

I'm sure that most volunteers understand what is expected and could operate without any rules at all. Our aim in constructing these rules is to give all volunteers (and staff) a simple easy to use guide on the rules they need to understand and obey. The motivation for doing this work was that there was general perception that existing rules were complicated and confusing. 

Staff & Members

I respect your aims and agree that this is where one of the highest staff member interactions will be. I also appreciate that there have been frictions in the past and may well be in the future and I also agree that most volunteers understand what is expected and I am sure that staff do to. I suppose what that my feeling is that I don't think this will make a difference and highlighting it in this may brings it to everyone's attention. That might not be a bad thing, I am not sure and in that uncertainty I feel it better to be left out.

Changes to proposals

At the Policy Committee meeting today we agreed to make a few small changes to this section. In 10. Public statements, "speaking" has been replaced by "communicating" and "explicit" by "appropriate". I hope this addresses some of the concerns raised.