Mountain Equipment Co-op 2016 Board Nominations - what do you think? - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-30-2015, 03:13 AM Thread Starter
High on the Mountain Top
 
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Default Mountain Equipment Co-op 2016 Board Nominations - what do you think?

The Mountain Equipment Co-op call for Board nominations for the 2016 election quietly opened on August 26th and closes on September 30th.
http://www.mec.ca/AST/ContentPrimary...ominations.jsp

For the first ~40 years of the Co-op’s existence, any member in good standing that met a few basic tests (no conflict of interest, must be 18, etc.) was allowed to run on the ballot and the membership did a good job of electing a board.

A few years ago the rules were changed and the Board was allowed to establish minimum criteria. This year, they are flexing this new muscle and have introduced criteria that will disqualify the vast majority of the membership from being able to stand on the ballot.

Here is the new section of minimum criteria for 2016:
"MEC is a large cooperative retail organization of $336 million in annual revenues, a global supply chain, 1900 employees, 18 stores across Canada, and a web store. In order to qualify as a candidate, the Board requires that you must have experience of serving on a board or senior management in an organization of comparable complexity to MEC, in terms of size, scale, and reach.”

In my opinion, the implications of this are negative as it basically means that the only candidates that we will be able to see on the ballot are those that have “big company” experience and it will unnecessarily disqualify a lot of good candidates. It would appear that someone who has 40 years of experience on the Board of 50 person organizations is now disqualified from the ballot since they did not get the experience an organization of similar size, scale and reach. Along the same lines, a CEO/founder of a rapidly growing 100 person Canadian company would also fail this new test. On the other hand, senior managers in big companies (GAP, Ford, etc.) would meet the test.

In a healthy co-op, the members choose the board and the board chooses the CEO. When the board chooses everyone who is allowed to stand on the ballot for the board, we’ve lost the chain of accountability.

What do people think of this? If a petition was brought forward to roll back some of the changes that allow the Board unlimited power to set criteria for which candidates are allowed to sit on the ballot, would you sign it?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-30-2015, 10:35 AM
High on the Mountain Top
 
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Yes.

The other problem I see is that it cuts out the variety of people. The criteria mean that you'll end up with a number of individuals who are all the same in outlook, philosophy, etc (just another old boy's club).
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-30-2015, 09:18 PM
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Yes I would sign it too. It used to be that you were an outdoors person interested in getting on the board of an outdoors store , now it seems it is the indoors crowd that wishes to operate a retail market that just happens to sell outdoor stuff.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-31-2015, 01:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steventy View Post
In a healthy co-op, the members choose the board and the board chooses the CEO. When the board chooses everyone who is allowed to stand on the ballot for the board, we’ve lost the chain of accountability.

What do people think of this? If a petition was brought forward to roll back some of the changes that allow the Board unlimited power to set criteria for which candidates are allowed to sit on the ballot, would you sign it?
What do I think of this? First, I agree with Seventy's premise.

For some time I have been concerned about MEC's governance practices.

I know that when I arrived in Vancouver in 1990, alone, and wanted to explore the local hills, I learned how from the guidebooks, and I learned about the gear I needed from the wise and informed people at MEC. MEC's carefully chosen catalogue guided me to make purchases for circumstances I didn't fully understand at the time, and make choices that, in hindsight, were the right ones for my experience, my future skill development, and my limited resources.

Today, I see MEC acting like a retail store — seeking product lines and colours that they hope will appeal to the buyers. The service is still exemplary, but the fact that MEC sells it does not mean that it is the best value for the purpose. I suspect that they measure their success by how much product they move, and not whether or not the members are well served. Actually, I'd be curious to learn about the metrics that MEC considers valuable.

I also know that I might be out-of-step with the current members. As an urban store, maybe the membership now expects MEC to act like any fashion store.

My point in this ramble is that while I agree that I don't approve of MEC's board practices, I've not decided that I know enough to participate in any form of member-action against the board. Even if I did, I suspect that a petition would not be effective unless it also included a PR campaign to inform and motivate enough of the membership to be effective in causing change. I am really slow to add my name to a petition unless I've fully researched the cause. Nowadays, an action like signing a petition can become part of the signer's legacy forever.

I will be interested to read the extent that other people on Clubtread care about this issue.

And it might be helpful if one or more of the MEC board members who support the current governance practices would participate in the discussion.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
High on the Mountain Top
 
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Great comments above.

MEC is a member owned co-operative and the purposes of the co-operative can be found here:
https://www.mec.ca/media/Images/pdf/...9834718901.pdf

"Purposes of the Co-operative:
a) designing, manufacturing, purchasing, selling and renting products for self-propelled
wilderness oriented recreational activities, and
b) marketing goods and services produced or supplied by members, and
c) any business which may conveniently be carried on in connection with those businesses."

It definitely feels like the Board is starting to ignore category A in the list above and that most of the new activity is in the vague category of item C.

Examples:
http://www.mec.ca/product/5042-153/t...ck-shirt-mens/
http://www.mec.ca/product/5036-066/b...-boots-unisex/


Is anyone running for Board this year? I ran last year (the Board rejected my candidacy,) and I am happy to answer any questions about the process.
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