Articles written by Ruth Pitt
Ruth is the Past President of the YWCA Canberra. Ruth commenced the Board Traineeship in 2008 and was appointed to the Board as an alternate Director during 2008-09. She was elected to the Board in October 2009 and served as Vice President in 2010-11. Ruth works as a science writer and editor, and has a background in population health, with a particular interest in women’s health.
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.
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.