Governance

Our Governance and Memorandum & Articles.

British Ecological Society image of bee keepers

Reviewing governance in the BES

Good governance, the way that an organisation operates and is held accountable, is really important for any charity to effectively deliver its objectives.  We have not had a major review of our governance in over 20 years but, during that time, both staff and income have increased seven-fold whilst expenditure and assets have increased ten-fold.  The size, portfolio of activities and complexity of the organisation have changed greatly, so a review of our decision-making processes is timely. That is why the 2015-19 Strategic Plan included an objective to ensure that our governance is efficient and fit for purpose, as well as robust in the face of likely future challenges and opportunities.

A working group of current and former Council members, chaired by our current President (Prof Sue Hartley) and supported by an expert in governance issues, was set up in late 2016 and developed a set of recommendations, taking account of the following issues:

  • The need to consider what was best for the BES to deliver its strategic objectives effectively, both now and in the future
  • How the governance of the BES compared to similar organisations and standards of good governance in the voluntary sector
  • Speeding up decision making and the ability of the Society to respond quickly to new challenges and opportunities
  • Delegating authority beyond Council to Committees and to staff
  • Reducing duplication of effort, and
  • Increasing opportunities for members to be involved in the activities and decision making of the Society

Recommended changes

Our Council supported the wide range of recommendations from the working group to increase the operational effectiveness and accountability of the Society.  One of the most important is refocusing Council to concentrate more on strategic oversight and to delegate greater authority for driving forward the Society’s activities to the Committees and staff.  In recognition of this change in function, Council will be renamed the Board of Trustees.  The size of the Board will be reduced from 22 to 13 and will meet more often, bringing it much more in line with practice elsewhere in the sector.  The current Council is too large and meets too infrequently for decision-making to be effective, or sufficiently nimble to deliver our future ambitions.

Another important change is increased opportunities for members to get involved.  We would like to introduce online voting for the election of Board of Trustees enabling all members, not just those who are able to attend the AGM, to select who represents them.  We would also like to change the composition of Committees so there are more chances for our members to join and so get directly involved in the Society’s decisions and activities.

The Memorandum and Articles of Association will need to be updated to reflect the relevant changes, as well as to bring them up to date with current best practice as they have not been thoroughly reviewed since 2006.

Any questions or comments?

Our Council is keen to hear you views on these important proposals before they are put to the AGM in December.  If you have any comments or questions please get in touch with Hazel Norman, Executive Director, by 6 October 2017.

 

Memorandum and Articles

Our Memorandum and Articles set out the legal framework in which our Society operates; they can only be amended by agreement from our Society’s membership at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is held in association with the Annual Meeting.

Our last Annual General Meeting was held at 10:00 on Tuesday 13 December 2016 in Hall 1, Area and Convention Centre Liverpool, Monarchs Quay, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 4FP. We shall announce the details of our 2017 AGM in Ghent when they have been confirmed.

Our Annual Review provides a useful overview of what we have been doing during the past 12 months; the AGM Agenda, Annual Review and signed accounts are all available to read or download below: