2011 Board of Directors Election - We Value Your Feedback

Virginia Weiler

The final count has been tabulated and Vancity has announced the results for the Board of Directors Election. A heartfelt thanks to the members who put themselves forward as candidates for our Board; we had an unprecedented number of candidates this year and we appreciate your deep dedication to Vancity. Thank you also to all of our members – our owners – who voted, and an extra shout out to those who for the first time, voted online.

We are grateful for your feedback. As most members will know, this year we changed the way in which Directors are elected to our Board. In 2009, we asked members what they thought of the election process for Directors and only one-third said they were very satisfied with it. The other 66 per cent wanted changes. Members told us that they wanted more information about candidates so that their choices would be better informed. They also told us they wanted an easier way to vote. The changes made this year were in direct response to your feedback and is part of our continuous effort to improve and modernize our Board governance.

Based on some comments we've received from some of you about candidate endorsement and the elimination of slates, we realize that we could have done a better job in communicating our objectives behind some of the changes you experienced this year and I'd like to provide you with more information.

We felt that the best way to identify governance gaps was to build a candidate profile based on specific strengths we currently need, such as knowledge of technology and finance. But we also wanted to maintain a diversity of opinion, so we considered attributes such as familiarity with social finance, demonstrated community leadership and an understanding of the culture that contributes to an effective board. We then asked the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) to assess nominees against these criteria. We changed the composition of the NEC so that it was made up of a majority of four members-at-large and two sitting Directors. The Board accepted the NEC's recommended list of candidates. This was not a slate; members were free to choose any three candidates from the full list.

The process of selecting qualified candidates was detailed and transparent and provided members with more information about candidates than ever before.

Recommending candidates based on specific skills and attributes is not specific to Vancity. It's a growing trend in cooperative governance excellence. However, we understand that the way in which we identified the five candidates – stating that we endorsed them – created the wrong impression. Our intention was to let members know which candidates would add the most value to the Board based on our current needs and the formal assessment made of the candidates.

The other change this year - doing away with slates - makes the election process more equitable than it was before. It means that candidates who have the right skill set to be Directors, but don't have the time, resources, or volunteer base to campaign have an equal opportunity to be elected.

We know that a variety of issues are close to the hearts of our members. However, it is not in the interests of candidates, or members of the Board, for Directors to be elected on promises they later discover cannot be delivered because of legislative restrictions or other constraints. Not being able to keep promises made during campaigns adds to member frustration with the election process. We wanted to address this issue by moving away from campaigning on promises.

We believe the new election process is good for members because it's more transparent, allows more candidates to run, and allows members to make a more informed choice. We will continue to make improvements in our governance processes and we will do a better job communicating our objectives in the future.

These changes were based on your feedback, which we value. We encourage you to continue telling us what you think of our performance and what additional changes you would like to see.

If you would like provide your feedback in a session with our Nominations and Elections Committee, please provide your contact details in an email to election@vancity.com. We'd love to meet with you.


Virginia Weiler
Vice Chair, Vancity Board of Directors
Chair, Governance and Conduct Review Committee


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