Towards the end of 2021, the VACC Board discussed how Board capability and diversity could be improved at VACC. This discussion was raised, not as a criticism of the current Board member selection process, but through a recognition that, like many boards, we can end up with a board of members who have very similar skills sets and backgrounds. This is not ideal as it reduces the potential capacity that a more diversified Board may bring.
Currently, a Board of nine members is selected from nominations from VACC’s 15 Divisional Executive Committees. Every two years, each of these committees can nominate one person from their committee to go onto the Board. If more than nine nominations are received from the 15 Divisions a ballot (vote) is held amongst all members to get to the nine members needed for a new Board.
This is a straightforward process and a common one amongst associations that are structured under the same rules as VACC – that is a federally registered industrial organisation.
One challenge in the current process is we are affectively selecting the nine Board directors from a small pool that make up the Divisional Executive Committees – around 130 members. This means we are fishing in a tiny pond when we have a lake of 5,000 members who may bring highly valued and specialist skills to the Board.
Some argue a member should spend time on a Divisional Executive Committee before they can nominate for a Board position. However, this approach closes out opportunities for members who may not want to sit on a Divisional Executive Committee or have other constraints that mean they just can’t do this. If we hold to this rule, it is likely we will continue to do that same in the future that we have done in the past and the Board skills base is likely to be duplicated amongst the Board members – not the end of the world but not ideal.
So how do we create Board diversity and how do we attract individuals with specialist skill sets that can add to the total capability of the VACC Board?
One potential answer being explored by the Board is to see how the VACC Rules would accommodate most Board members – say seven positions – being elected in the same way they are now but with the other two positions being filled by members from the broader membership of 5,000, being selected against a specialist skill set or specialist attributes.
The strength of this model lies in the Board being able to identify, as part of a strategy exercise, specialist skills or member attributes they need for the following Board term. It could be that a higher order skills need is identified in areas such as finance, legal, or governance.
This initiative is part of a continuous improvement exercise for VACC. It’s about ensuring we have a contemporary and enlightened view on how we equip the organisation for the future. We can’t let the whim of tradition dictate how we create the Boards of the future; we have to create avenues through which VACC can access the member and specialist skills needed to take us through the decades ahead.
I welcome member feedback on this important matter. Call me on 0417 337 624 or email me on email@example.com.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this initiative.