Co-operative Group plans new process for electing Member Nominated Directors

May 16, 2015

The Co-operative Group today announced plans for a new process for electing future Member Nominated Directors (MNDs) to the Group Board and the creation of a fourth member director position.
 
The new process will be developed jointly by the Board and the Members’ Council, which includes representatives from the Independent Co-operative Societies. The key elements are:

  • A clearer application and sifting process to encourage more participation in elections;
  • A structured assessment event run jointly by the Board and Council, with advice from a professional search firm;
  • Joint Board and Council agreement on final selection of candidates to go forward on the ballot paper;
  • The creation of an Academy that will develop members in the skills and understanding needed to become a Board Director, in order to build a talent pool of future candidates.
  • Creation of a fourth MND within six months

The result of the current elections for three MND positions will be announced at the Co-operative’s AGM in Manchester today. The new process will be used in the recruitment of all future MNDs, including the fourth director.

The new appointment process was announced to members in a joint statement (see below) from The Co-operative Group’s independent non-executive Chairman, Allan Leighton and Members’ Council President, Lesley Reznicek.

Allan Leighton said:

“The governance changes agreed by members last year have created a fledgling democracy for the Co-op. It’s moving in the right direction but we are still finding our way and recognise that we need to do some things differently. We have listened carefully to feedback from members on the current MND process and I’m pleased that we have now agreed a way forward with the Council and Independent Societies which will maintain our fundamental principle of appointing suitably qualified and experienced directors while encouraging greater participation in future contested elections.”

Lesley Reznicek added:

“The Member Nominated Director process is a crucial part of the new governance arrangements. Going forward, it is critical that the selection and recruitment process for MNDs is enhanced, jointly owned by the Board and Council and leads to contested elections. The new process will achieve not only this but also give us a fourth Member Nominated Director.  The Senate of the Council worked hard to achieve this outcome on behalf of the Council and the members.  For the future, we must build on this by continuing to listen to each other and work together to rebuild the Society and strengthen our Co-operative Difference. This is a truly historic day for members of the Co-operative Group”.

Enquiries:

 

The Co-operative Group

  • Jon Church - Tel: 07545 210812
  • Russ Brady - Tel: 07880 784442

Tulchan Communications

  • Susanna Voyle - Tel: 07980 894557
  • Jonathan Sibun - Tel: 07779 999683

Joint statement from The Co-operative Group board/members’ council

A key part of the new Governance arrangements for the Co-operative Group was the inclusion of three Member Nominated Directors on the Board.  The first election is taking place now with three strong candidates standing for these inaugural roles. One of the MNDs will be appointed for one year only and their position will therefore be subject to election in 2016.  We fully expect the next MND election to be contested.

Opportunities to strengthen this new process have been identified.  The Board and Council have committed to work together to develop enhanced arrangements for future elections.  Work to improve the process will begin immediately after the AGM with the firm objective of achieving a contested election for the next MND election process.  We will do this by working to ensure a strong pipeline of candidates who meet the required criteria. The review, which will be conducted by the Council and the Board, demonstrates the commitment to the unique and important role of the MND within the Society’s governance framework. It will be wide-ranging and will include a development programme for potential candidates, an improved nominations process and selection and assessment to be conducted jointly by the Board and Council.

The President and Group Chair welcome this agreement to work together in the best interests of all members of the Co-operative Group to support and strengthen the new Board arrangements which are vital to the rebuilding of The Co-operative.

The areas we have been discussing with the Council are set out below. These initiatives are of course subject to review by the joint Task & Finish group but are included to provide reassurance that we are already thinking through the specific areas that need to be addressed.

We recognise that the Group is a Federal organisation and, as a result has, in addition to its responsibility to its individual members, a need to reflect the views of the Independent Societies within the Governance process. We have therefore agreed that the Independent Societies will be represented on the Task & Finish Group and will collectively have the opportunity to engage with the Task & Finish Group before recommendations on the new process are finalised.   

As evidence of our commitment to the role of the MNDs and our confidence in building a strong pipeline of future candidates, the Board has agreed that, subject to the necessary Rule change being approved by members, and the new process having been agreed, a fourth MND should be appointed within six months of the 2015 AGM or as soon thereafter as it can be achieved.  
 

Proposals for consideration by the Task & Finish Group:

 
Process
 
The current process, for the selection of the MNDs on the ballot, has produced three strong and suitably qualified candidates with a wide variety of skills and attributes.  Going forward, the Board and Council wish to enhance the process by working closely together to ensure contested elections and to enhance the pool of suitably qualified and experienced candidates.

The process will be developed, jointly by representatives of the Board and the Council, with appropriate ISM representation, working together as a Task & Finish group. The review will develop a joint process including:

  • respective responsibilities of Board and Council to be determined at the outset;
  • an application process which includes both the opportunity for candidates to explain how they have applied co-operative values & principles within their work, evidences their commercial acumen and encourages people to stand;
  • with the assistance of a professional search firm, a joint initial sift against specified criteria to determine candidate eligibility;
  • a separate structured assessment event to ensure effective assessment of candidates to be run jointly by the Board and Council (with advice from a professional search firm) with candidates advised of the requirements at nomination and criteria for attendance agreed;
  • the final selection of those who will appear on the ballot paper to be agreed jointly by representatives of the Board and the Council;
  • process to start within six months of the 2015 AGM.

Developing a talent pool

  • To support the objective of contested elections, a commitment to developing a process to identify a pipeline of a small number of strong candidates.  This would include candidates with potential drawn from colleagues, Council members and those with a strong co-operative background.       
  • Jointly, to create a development programme to support them in receiving exposure to business issues to increase their capability and likelihood of the satisfying the competence framework.
  • Develop an Induction session for all new Directors and Executives, run by Council, to cover knowledge and understanding of co-operative enterprise, our distinct values and principles which would start, ideally, post AGM 2015 or as soon as possible afterwards.

Communications

  • Work with the Council on communications to report to members on the steps taken to address members’ expectations re: contested MND elections in future.