CIPS announces Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss major governance changes

CIPS have announced an Extraordinary General Meeting on November 30th at Easton House to vote on the changes to the constitution which we’ve featured previously (here for example).  If you can't make it in person you can nominate a proxy, and in the interests of democracy we'd encourage members to vote.

The big change is the move to a Board of Management whose members will also be the Trustees of the Institute.  The Board will be 50% elected from members of Congress, and 50% appointed directly by the Nominations Committee.  Congress will meet once a year and will be elected by members.

That contrasts to the current situation where the Council of 40 people, elected by members, are the Trustees, and the Board of Management are in effect appointed and elected by Council.

The CIPS website has a lot more information (here - then follow the various links). The explanatory notes are particularly useful.

We have said this before – there’s a trade off here between greater management clarity (the new proposal) and the weakening of the direct connection between members and the people running the Institute.

I understand that the proposal that the Chief Executive should be a Trustee is in part to make sure their role as Director of CIPS subsidiary companies doesn't cut across the wider CIPS goals - although this seems to make an already powerful role even more so. And there doesn't yet appear to be clarity around how the Nominations Committee is itself selected (key, because they are going to be jolly important, appointing half of the Trustees directly).

I also have some concerns about how the Congress is going to make their selections to the Board. And I do worry about the most fundamental fact – that members will no longer be directly electing the people who (technically at least) run the Institute.

On the other hand, the new structure is conducive to faster decision making, and cleans up some of the anomalies in the present system. So I don’t think it is a clear cut “yes” or “no” for me yet – I’d like to see a little more explanation around some of the outstanding issues first.

And finally, when we featured this issue here previously, it was greeted with a huge lack of interest. So perhaps no-one actually gives a damn?  Come on, prove me wrong – let’s see some comments!

Voices (3)

  1. Phoenix:

    Peter

    I’ve not heard anyone dispute the fact that the current CIPS governance system has some major drawbacks. The Council of 40+ is too large, and it is too UK-centric given the rapid growth of membership globally. There has also been a creeping sense of institutional apathy in Council in recent years, but since the Secretariat stopped asking Council to make any real decisions some time ago, the no-shows at Council meetings have hardly been surprising.

    That said, I think this change goes way too far, and is predicated on the belief that CIPS is primarily a business and must restructure in order to become more ‘agile’ and thus able to make the necessary business decisions more quickly. This will in turn enable CIPS, the CEO hopes, to reach its target of a £50m annual turnover within five years.

    The issue I am most at odds with is that CIPS appears to be transforming itself from a democratic, member-led professional institute into (first and foremost) a profit-making enterprise. We shouldn’t be surprised about this – both CIPS management and officers are senior business people and it’s what comes naturally to them. And I have no problem at all with the profit motive, it’s just that I haven’t seen firm plans as to what CIPS plans to do with its £50m a year income, not even in its three-year strategy. Surely an organisation like ours – a charity with a Royal Charter – should decide first what it intends to do and then set about raising the necessary income through its business interests. The latter funds the former. Turning our governance structure upside down like this will put the cart before the horse, at the cost of our members’ democratic right to run their own institute.

    The first Special Resolution invites us to vote on the new structure for CIPS Governance. The new, smaller 12-person Board of Trustees – half appointed and up to two of whom needn’t even be members – does not seem to be accountable to anyone. Certainly not the Congress, which will (we are told) ‘advise’ the Board, and which is clearly nothing more than a sham, even if it meets twice yearly (a recent concession – for a long while the plan was it would meet just once a year, because democracy is pretty damned expensive as well as slow and means flying in people from all over the world to have their say). The only actual decisions made by Congress will be to elect half of the new Board and some positions on a Nominations Committee. Even the few decisions currently made by Council – the strategy, the budget and the Seal List – will, I believe, be whisked away.

    The second Special Resolution is particularly illuminating. The explanatory note on the EGM Notice appears to me to be asking “and once you’ve agreed to these changes, would you mind awfully if the Board has a free hand to undertake further development of the governance structure without having to go through this process?” CIPS current management has made it known that it has no plans to rid itself of its charitable status, along with all the pesky, irritating responsibilities that go with it. For now, at least. But if Special Resolution 2 is passed… who knows?”

    The truth is that, thereafter and forever, whatever the Board decides, neither Congress nor the wider membership at large will be able to do a single thing about it.

    But – don’t fret – just think of all that lovely money!!!!

  2. David Atkinson:

    Tumbleweed.

    1. Final Furlong:

      Very good!

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