Staff at Board Meetings

There has been a ripple of concern running through the sector following guidance from the Charity Commission that seemed to imply that staff – including the CEO – should only rarely attend Board meetings.

 

Whilst it’s important for Board members to recognise and faithfully fulfil their responsibility for making decisions independently, I cannot see how we could make effective decisions without concurrent input from staff, whose executive knowledge of operations will always be deeper than our non-executive understanding.

 

The original guidance was much too stringent and counter productive to the effective operation of a Board.  In my experience having staff present helps Board members acquire insight into all areas of the organisation and builds a sense of unity of purpose across the executive and non-executive leadership alike.  Likewise, being present as Board members debate and discuss gives staff – and the CEO in particular – a deep understanding of the ‘mind’ of the Board.  It gives a coherent approach to strategy and planning, and supports the elimination of silo working by functional leaders.

 

Fortunately, the Charity Commission has attempted to clarify the guidance.  In my view, though, it still doesn’t go far enough in acknowledging the benefits of shared understanding and insight amongst the leadership in fulfilling the organisation’s mission.