Articles by Erica Lewis
Erica Lewis has served on a range of local and national boards and committees, including as chair and treasurer. She is a past President of the YWCA of Canberra.
Board Culture: Is Your Board a Learning Space?
The Victorian Government is currently looking at changing its laws around the composition of the governing bodies of universities, removing designated positions for staff and students, and ensuring that such representatives can only be appointed if they have ‘the necessary skills’. Many not-for-profit organisations have designated positions on their boards for members, volunteers or consumer representatives. Faced with increasing pressures to have highly skilled and professional boards, organisations may be tempted to follow the Victorian Government’s lead and abandon commitments to representation and inclusion.
Quotas and Cultures to Support Board Diversity
There’s lots of discussion around about quotas for women on corporate boards, and lots of questions about whether quotas are effective. At theYWCA, we have been operating with a quota for 20 years. But ours is not a quota for including women: all the members of our board are women. Rather, our quota is directed towards including young women on all of our boards and committees. Twenty years ago, the YWCA made a global commitment that at least 25% of members of national boards would be women 30 years and younger.
Board culture: breaking bread and barriers
In our previous article, we wrote about developing a culture of learning and continual improvement on boards. An important part of encouraging the kind of openness and questioning that’s required for a learning culture is ensuring that the board is a ‘safe space’. Sadly, there are many boards in the community sector that don’t really feel that safe for new members. Whether it’s different factions disagreeing and struggling for power, or a director who has been on the board for decades and passionately disagrees with any attempts to change direction, or a hostile relationship between the board and the executive director, the fact is that boards are teams of people, and teams often have difficult dynamics.