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    • #7549
      Alexa CreelmanAlexa Creelman

      The module doesn’t discuss external directors, which I understand to be a best practice to ensure that certain skill sets do get on the board that might be rare among membership.

      I know some close bond credit unions may feel a bit insular and at risk with a board pool of only policemen, or firefighters, etc. And any organization might have difficulty finding board leaders that have certain skillsets – complex liquidity management, digital technology infrastructure, etc.

      With increasing competition, regular corporations adopting corporate social responsibility (as a marketing tool in many cases as opposed to a DNA factor for co-ops) muddying this differentiation and value proposition in co-ops, an increase in technology melting geographic barriers that had previously sheltered the co-operative consumer base, etc. I am inclined to think that an external perspective could be highly valuable. I am also wary that it can be seen as a threat to the co-operative culture.

      The module talked about a “robust orientation about how a co-op works” for incoming CEOs from outside the system. Might a similar orientation be helpful to balance the worry about losing the co-op culture?

      Qualified directors is in the best interest of members, directors would still be democratically elected by membership (ensuring voice, but not always representation), and for sake of targeted expertise and length of Board terms- some external directors seems to be a reasonable solution.

      But how can we reassure that this isn’t a co-operative becoming corporate? How can we keep that co-operative culture held in the highest seats of decision making?

    • #7585
      Lori SandersLori Sanders

      I agree that this is a tough question and one that we could all be facing soon. How do keep our Co-op culture, yet attract strong, competent directors to ensure the viability of the retails?

      Your other point regarding “robust orientation” for new management from outside the system also poses questions- look at Calgary Co-op and their departure from FCL’s Food program. Does new management”buy in”, or do they convert? And how strong are boards to maintain co-op values and culture?

    • #7591
      Jen BudneyJen Budney

      Great questions, Alexa – and thanks for pointing to the Calgary Co-op case, Lori. There is a tension between the co-op’s value of autonomy and the interdependency of co-ops in the complex system like the CRS, and one wonders if the orientation of the Calgary’s board included as much focus on interdependencies in the co-operative retailing system as it might have.

    • #7748
      Janet TaylorJanet Taylor

      This is a great topic Alexa. It would be more difficult in a closed bond co-op to find candidates with a broad range of experience to fill director positions. Looking at the consolidation that has taken place in the credit union sector this is likely one of the drivers (well, along with regulatory burden). Finding a partner with similar values gives so many new opportunities including broadening the director candidate pool.

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“I thoroughly enjoyed the Good Governance Matters course offered by Co-operatives First. The course provided a solid background on governance generally and specific examples of good governance practices in co-operatives. It is uncommon to find governance training specific to co-operatives so this was refreshing.”

Janet Taylor (Corporate Secretary)

Libro Credit Union

“The Good Governance Matters Course was a valuable course. I shared it with the [Arctic Co-operatives Limited] Senior Leadership Team. If it ever comes up again, I highly recommend others to take it.”

Mary Nirlungayuk (Corporate Secretary and Vice-President, Corporate Services)

Arctic Co-operatives Limited

“The online course, Good Governance Matters was very informative, easy to navigate and discussed issues relevant to our needs as a Board of Directors. This course is a great tool for boards to build their knowledge to become strong, strategic boards.”

Lori Sanders (President)

Sherwood Co-op

“This course has greatly increased my understanding of what good governance could/should look like and how each part (boards, management, members) plays a vital role in the co-operative’s success.”


“This course was highly enjoyable, and relevant to working in not only the co-op space, but with any group that needs to make decisions.”