ASSE Proposed Governance Structure Change – Q & A
1. ASSE and the safety profession are growing, and the Society is fiscally sound. If it’s not broke…why change?
Systematic review is a fundamental principle of the SH&E profession. Many of the standards you work with each day require routine reviews that identify concerns and drive continuous improvement. Thus, it is prudent that ASSE examine its management system (i.e., governance) regularly to confirm that it aligns with an ever-evolving strategic plan and priorities as well as the Society’s ongoing mission, and be responsive to various internal and external factors.
ASSE last reviewed its governance structure in 1993, and the House of Delegates approved that plan in 1995. That means it’s been nearly 20 years since ASSE formally addressed this topic. Given the changed world and evolving operating environment, maintaining the status quo would equate to governing ASSE with a model that does not align with our mission, vision and strategic plan.
Research and best practices in association management suggest that a smaller, more diverse and strategically focused board is a more efficient and forward-thinking board. Progressive membership organizations are adopting a governance structure that is more responsive, strategic and sustainable. As the Society moves into its second century, we are striving to embrace this new view of organizational governance so that ASSE can be more responsive to the strategic plan as well as to the changing needs of a global, technology driven profession.
The proposed structure would also better align ASSE leadership with current member desires and needs. It will enable ASSE to provide greater support to and streamlined responsibilities for member leaders who have limited time to volunteer. By making better use of volunteer resources and by engaging more members as volunteers, ASSE will have access to broader skills and experience levels, and a larger pool of individuals will be available for ASSE leadership roles. A forward-thinking BOD, coupled with improved operational support at the council, region, chapter, practice specialty/branch and common interest group levels, will produce higher overall value for all members.
2. What changes at ASSE are driving this action?
In the mid-1990s, ASSE’s membership was smaller, younger and less demographically diverse. During this time, members were more likely to attend chapter meetings and volunteer for service. Employers were more likely to pay a member’s dues (maybe even multiple dues to multiple organizations), send members to professional development events and support volunteer service.
Since then, our membership has greatly diversified. In addition, most members now interact with ASSE based on industry- and specialty-specific needs, rather than on geographic location. This is evident in the growth of ASSE’s practice specialties (few and small in 1995, now approaching 20 in total) and emergence of common interest groups (which did not exist before 2003).
In addition, in 1995, ASSE was only beginning to venture into the virtual world, and had a limited website and few digital assets. Today, the Society delivers virtual events throughout the year, has an extensive website and has developed a robust Body of Knowledge repository.
3. What changes to the SH&E profession are driving this action?
The list of things that have changed in your life in the past 18 to 20 years is likely quite long, with new changes occurring almost daily. It’s no different for the SH&E profession. Consider just a few comparisons:
- In 1995, safety professionals focused primarily on safety and OSHA compliance. In 2012, they have additional responsibilities for security, environmental health, business strategy and global management.
- Mergers and acquisitions have led to consolidation and downsizing. As a result, everything needs to be done quicker and better, but with fewer resources.
- Since 1995, ASSE membership has grown by more than 15%, and the number of ASSE’s practice specialties has grown 112.5%. In addition, the number of ASSE members who belong to at least one practice specialty has grown by 34.7% since 1995.
- Common interest groups (CIGs) did not exist before Women in Safety Engineering was formed in 2003. Today, more than 5,100 members belong to ASSE’s four CIGs.
- In 1995, most safety professionals relied on OSHA regulations or American voluntary national consensus standards as part of their practice. In 2012, SH&E professionals must review and be aware of a diverse range of global standards (e.g., OHSAS, ISO).
4. What impact is globalization having on changes in ASSE governance?
ASSE’s competitors in 1995 were US-based SH&E organizations. Today the competition is global. This phenomenon and sea changes in business and the economy means:
Virtually every business is now a player on the global stage
Whole industries have declined almost to extinction.
Developing economies such as China and India are replacing the US as drivers of the world economy.
5. What do ASSE members have to gain from this change in governance?
A smaller, more diverse, and strategic focused board of directors that can effectively recognize and capitalize on emerging opportunities that best serve our mission;
A governance structure that is more flat, closer and more accountable to the membership, and better representative of their assorted and varied voices;
A volunteer leadership structure that provides more efficient engagement opportunities with more support and streamlined responsibilities for members who have increasingly limited time to volunteer;
An operational structure that engages members beyond where they live, incorporating a more balanced approach that also focuses on who they are, what they do and where they work;
An organizational structure that strengthens two-way communication and constructive feedback which improves the culture of trust between staff, volunteer leaders and the Society’s membership;
A value delivery system that offers our members access to professional networking and a body of knowledge through a variety of venues including face-to-face, virtually, from emerging technologies, and evolving delivery formats.
Most members are represented by a House of Delegates (HoD) that is heavily weighted towards a chapter-centric voice that no longer speaks for the majority of engaged members and do not understand the role of the HoD, including many of those involved with the HoD.
The perception of too many members is they do not have a voice in the Society; that a chosen few make all of the decisions. This harbors mistrust and promotes an “us against them” temperament between staff, volunteer leaders, and regular membership.
6. Why change now - what is the Urgency?
Maintaining the status quo and failing to address a governance change today means we will run ASSE with a governance model that is not properly aligned with our mission, vision and the recently revised strategic plan.
A new governance structure aligns ASSE leadership with the desires and needs that have radically changed with our membership.
Research suggests that a smaller, more diverse, and strategically-focused board is a more efficient and forward-thinking board.
A revised governance model positions ASSE to be more nimble and responsive to the strategic plan as well as addressing the changing environment of a more global and technology-driven profession.
A new governance structure allows for a more efficient use of volunteer resources that focus on both strategic and operational issues.
With more members involved a larger pool of those members with varied skills and experience levels will engage and grow in less burdensome ASSE leadership roles.
A more forward-thinking Board, and improved operational support through our Councils and Regions, will engage more of the membership to participate and remain active in the Society, thus resulting in improved overall value to everyone.
Member’s voices will be more balanced and better heard at the Board level through more easily identified venues based upon where they live (chapters and regions); who they are (common interest groups), and; where they work and what they do (practice specialties and branches).
7. Why this Model?
In light of the changes in the SH&E industry and the world, it has become clear that ASSE’s current board structure overemphasizes operational issues, causing silos and reducing the focus on strategy. As depicted in the image above, the proposed model separates operations from strategy. It allows the BOD to focus on strategy, while freeing regional and council vice presidents to be more responsive to their regions, members, councils and other constituent groups. This proposed organizational hierarchy will enhance communication and make ASSE a more nimble organization.
It is important to note that in the current structure, the regional vice president (RVP) position is too broad in scope and the expectations are burdensome, especially when combined with BOD duties. RVPs wear multiple hats that cause them to be overextended in many ways. One ultimate goal of this restructure is to increase the number of regions and RVPs in order to redistribute the operational workload more effectively. It is expected that doing so will increase efficiencies and ensure that each ASSE chapter gets more of its RVP’s time and attention.
Throughout this process, member needs and insight have been the guiding force, and this model will allow for better member representation through various channels based on many factors, including where they live (chapters and regions); who they are (common interest groups); and where they work and what they do (practice specialties and branches).
This structure also reflects best business practices, and it will allow the BOD and other volunteer leaders to respond more effectively and efficiently to the needs of members and the profession. The addition of five at-large directors (all ASSE members) will bring members’ voices directly to the BOD. Practice specialties and common interest groups will have a greater voice in governance as well, an important change as more members are electing to engage with the Society via these channels. Furthermore, adding a public director, a common practice in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, will bring a different perspective to the BOD’s deliberation and enable ASSE to access an expertise/experience not commonly found among the membership.
8. What process did the Board go through to get to its governance recommendation?
This journey has been driven by the collective wisdom of ASSE members, shared throughout an open, transparent process that has played out over the past 3 years.
The process started in 2010 when a Board Advisory Task Force began to examine governance. After several meetings, many discussions and a review of relevant literature, as well as extensive consultation with an association governance expert, the task force recommended a smaller board based on flexibility, responsiveness, strategic focus and economics.
Based on that recommendation, a diverse focus group met in January 2012. This group included the BOD, several past presidents, volunteer leaders and members at-large. Along with the expert facilitator, this group discussed current trends, member demographics, business factors, political/social values and the global climate. It also performed a comprehensive condition assessment and reviewed the Society’s goals. This collaborative and iterative process led to a consensus model for a new structure that was subsequently updated based on feedback from several volunteer groups.
In May 2012, a smaller group reviewed and updated the draft model that was presented to the BOD in June 2012. Between June 2012 and January 2013, the BOD continued to deliberate and consider additional input on the draft model. In February 2013, the board and its governance expert discussed further updates, and the board approved in principle a revised draft model. That model, with key differences highlighted, is depicted above.
9. What’s in it for me as an ASSE member?
Bottom line: Better representation, more opportunities for engagement and a stronger organization. The proposed structure will create efficient engagement opportunities. As a result, ASSE will be better able to engage you and all members based on who you are, what you do and where you work. In addition, this structure will strengthen two-way communication and encourage constructive feedback that will foster a culture of trust between and among all stakeholders in the Society.
By creating a smaller, more diverse and strategic-focused BOD, ASSE will be able to more effectively recognize and capitalize on emerging opportunities that best serve the Society’s mission and meet your needs as a member.
Please return and regularly review the latest information about this initiative, discuss it with fellow members and share your feedback.
- Decrease BOD from 16 to 10 members.
- Add one public member.
- Elect 8 BOD members Society-wide.
- Separate governance function from operations function.
- Expand regions (anticipated) for additional chapter support.
- Operate practice specialties and common interest groups more transparently.
10. How will this new governance structure affect the House of Delegates (H0D)?
The composition of the House of Delegates will remain the same with one exception; the four Common Interest Group (CIGs) administrators will become delegates. In addition, ASSE has launched an initiative to expand the HOD's voice and role by engaging delegates to discuss key issues, monitor industry trends and identify emerging professional needs.
11. Why add a public director?
A public director will bring a different perspective to the Board’s deliberations. This practice is now common in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. For example, Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) and Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) have public members on their boards. A public director will bring an outside voice, an outside perspective to the Board. This will help the Board focus on the big picture and prevent groupthink. Additionally, a public director can provide an expertise or experience that is not commonly found among the membership and will not be compensated.
12. How will this governance change provide more resources to chapters?
The new model reduces the workload and increases the effectiveness of the Regional Vice Presidents (RVPs). RVPs are critical to chapter success, but they are currently pulled in too many directions. By increasing the number of regions, and the number of RVPs, the workload per RVP can be reduced substantially. As a result each chapter receives much more of its RVPs time, attention and expertise. The proposed governance model separates operations from strategy. This allows for a more efficient use of volunteer resources. Under the proposed model, a larger pool of skilled and experienced members will engage in ASSE leadership, creating a forward-thinking Board and improved operational support throughout the regions and chapters.
13. Does this proposed change increase or decrease the number of leadership positions the membership elects?
Under the current governance structure, the membership elects 8 out of 16 Board members (50%.) Under the new governance structure, the membership will elect 8 out of 10 Board members (80%.) In addition, the membership will vote for the vice president of professional development, vice president of practices & standards, vice president of professional affairs, vice president of chapter and region affairs, a regional vice president, 18 practice specialty administrators and 4 common interest group administrators. This brings the total number of positions elected by the membership to 35.
14. Doesn’t this add another layer of bureaucracy between the Board and the RVPs?
No. It brings chapter and regional decisions one level closer to the chapters and regions by removing the BoD from many of these decisions. This reduces the bureaucracy involved in chapter and regional decisions.
15. The RVP position will not be as powerful if they are not on the Board.
The intent is to make the RVPs more effective in helping chapters to be successful. This is done by reducing their responsibilities to the core focus on chapters.
16. If all four councils report to the Senior Vice President isn’t this too much work for them?
The councils don't report to the Senior VP. They report through the Senior VP. The Senior VP does not manage the councils. The Senior VP chairs the CoC which is a forum where the four council VPs meet to discuss issues of mutual concern and coordinate activities across councils. The President-Elect currently serves this role and it has neither been burdensome nor a bottleneck for the last 18 years that this system has been in place.
17. How will restructure of the national board assist in the sustainability of the local chapter? Reason for asking membership engagement is cited as a reason for restructure but nothing in this proposal appears to help the local chapter. Also, the proposal calls for additional elected positions (new regions, CoMRA VP) which adds to the burden for more volunteerism.
The restructure of the Society board has the direct intention of improving the functionality, nimbleness and strategic effectiveness of the Society board and Society level governance operations. That may not seem to directly effect the chapters. However, initial change at the top is intended to improve Society wide functioning and efficiency. Additionally, change at the top may allow change further down the organizational structure resulting in greater attention paid to the chapters and enhanced chapter programs. As has been said, the Society board believes an expansion in the number of RVPs will allow more individual attention by RVPs to chapters by freeing up the RVP's time and by having fewer chapters per RVP. Please be assured that nothing in this proposal is intended to diminish the Society's commitment to chapters. But fundamental fairness would seem to require us to take some notice of the majority of members engaging with the Society in other ways as well. What you refer to as the "burden of volunteerism" others may refer to as the increased opportunities for members to be engaged, serve and begin to lead at the Society. More elected positions also allow members a greater voice in who leads the Society at various levels.
18. What changes / impact does the proposed restructure and additional regions have on finances and incorporation?
The proposed restructure will reduce the cost of Board governance. Expansion of the number of regions may grow expense slightly but not necessarily so. However, we do believe that additional investments in the chapter system may be necessary to achieve better value for members but this is separate from Board or regional structure. We see no effect on chapter of Society incorporation.
19. What are the participation rates for mail votes by delegates compared to votes held during face-to-face HOD meetings?
A five-year running average of HOD meeting statistics shows that only 55% of delegates attend a HOD meeting whereas 71% of delegates voted in the last HOD mail ballot. The mail ballot goes to 100% of delegates. On average 27.7% of HOD meeting attendees are proxies and 23.3% of delegate positions are absent altogether (i.e., without a proxy).
20. How will this governance restructure help members and chapters?
Chapters and their leaders would be the primary beneficiaries of more time and focused guidance from their regional vice presidents (RVPs). The proposed structure will alleviate the taxing workload created by the current structure and enable RVPs to focus their time and energies on helping chapters thrive so they can deliver an exceptional member experience.
Society-wide elections will increase the member voice in ASSE. Under the proposed model, members would elect all voting members of the Board of Directors (BOD), except for the public director who will be appointed, thereby creating a BOD that is representative of all members. As Erike Young, Region I RVP and a long-time elected school board member, points out, "School districts are moving away from trustee-area elections to district-wide elections because trustees are voting for new programs for ‘their schools’ and not voting for programs that benefit all students. I see the same benefit for ASSE if it moves to the proposed governance structure"
In addition, recognizing that ASSE members have increasingly limited time to volunteer and that employer support for volunteerism continues to decrease, the proposed model aims to create a more efficient and balanced approached to engaging members in ways that recognize who they are, what they do and where they work. Members will have more opportunities to volunteer in ways that reflect their personal passions and abilities. Ultimately, this improved experience will help the Society retain more members and attract new members, both of which are vital to growing ASSE, enhancing the SH&E profession and increasing the influence of its practitioners.
21. Does this proposal pave the way for eventual removal of chapters?
No. Removal of chapters was not discussed or contemplated as part of this proposed change. Nothing in the proposed model changes the commitment to chapters.
Why would RVPs and council vice presidents no longer be part of the BOD?
Under the current model, these volunteer leaders fill dual roles: one focused on operational issues, one devoted to strategic concerns. While this helps our leaders gain a unique perspective on ASSE and its operation, it also leads to overload. More and more potential leaders are declining to run for office because their employers will not support the extensive time commitment required to fulfill these roles. Additional research and a recent environmental scan indicate that many other member-based associations are experiencing similar trends.
The proposed model would allow region and council vice presidents to focus on operational issues. This focused volunteerism will better support the member experience. In addition, the proposed model would move operational decision making to the council and region levels, which should improve efficiencies.
Furthermore, under the proposed structure, the RVPs would have a dedicated vice president through the Council on Region Affairs (CORA). This person would serve a 2-year term and could be elected to a second 2-year term. Under the current structure, the Council on Member and Region Affairs (COMRA) is chaired by the senior vice president, who only holds that office for 1 year. This change will create more stability from a volunteer standpoint and allow us to be better able to move things forward.
22. Will ASSE become more decentralized?
The proposed model is intended to shift much decision making to the council and region levels, which will allow initiatives to advance more quickly. This change will enhance the dialogue and collaboration among the councils as well.
23. Removing RVPs from the BOD may reduce its geographic diversity. How will the election process be managed to prevent all BOD members from being from one region, for example?
The proposed structure is focused on bringing the best slate of candidates forward to the membership for any election regardless of their geographic location. Under the current bylaws, it is possible that seven of the 15 BOD members (all of the council vice presidents, vice president of finance, president-elect and president) could all come from the same region or even chapter. That has never happened. Diversity is critically important, but geography is only one of many forms of diversity. The Nominations and Elections Committee and the development of strong leadership mentoring will help ensure that the BOD is diverse and reflective of the membership.
24. What is the rationale behind these proposed changes?
In the mid-1990s, ASSE’s membership was smaller, younger and less demographically diverse. Members were more likely to attend chapter meetings and volunteer for service. Employers were more likely to pay membership dues (maybe even multiple dues to multiple organizations), fund professional development and support volunteer service.
Since then, our membership has diversified. In addition, most members now interact with ASSE based on industry- and practice-specific needs, rather than on their geographic location. This is evident in the growth of ASSE’s practice specialties (few and small in 1995, now approaching 20 in total) and emergence of common interest groups (CIGs, which did not exist until 2003).
In 1995, ASSE was only beginning to venture into the virtual world, had a limited website and few digital assets. Today, the Society delivers virtual events throughout the year, has an extensive website and has developed a robust body of knowledge repository.
These changes make one thing clear: Maintaining the status quo and failing to address a governance change today means ASSE would operate under a governance model that does not align with its mission, vision and long-term strategic plan. The proposed model would position ASSE to be more nimble and responsive to the strategic plan, and would enable the Society to address the changing needs of a dynamic and increasingly global profession.
In addition, this model seeks to increase member participation by providing more pathways for volunteer involvement. With more members involved, the Society will be able to develop and draw from a larger pool of potential leaders with varied skills and experience levels to more effectively achieve strategic and operational goals.
It is also interesting to note that the proposed structure is in alignment with ANSI/ASSE/ISO 31000 (Z690.2), Risk Management: Principles and Guidelines. Following this model, the proposed structure will better position ASSE to identify, mitigate and monitor emerging risks to the organization. According to the standard, risk encompasses not only hazards, with which safety professionals are familiar, but also operational, financial, compliance and reputational risks.
25. How will this affect the CIGs to which I belong?
Each CIG would have delegate representation at the HOD like each practice specialty, and a vote at the Council on Practices and Standards meetings. This will elevate the voice of CIG members.
26. What is the objective of adding a public director to the BOD?
Having a public director is now a common practice in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. For example, BCSP and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health have public board members. A public director will bring an outside voice and perspective to BOD dialogue. This will help the BOD focus on strategic issues and prevent groupthink. The public director may also have an expertise or experience not commonly found among ASSE’s membership.
In addition, much has been said about how to best advocate for the safety profession and safety professionals. It is possible that a public director will offer insight on how to elevate the profession and position its practitioners as valued business partners who are key players in setting organizational policy and strategy.
27. If this is approved at the HOD meeting in June, how and when would this be implemented?
The normal election cycle would be used. During March, 2015 the normal election would be held for the normal offices (SR VP, VP CoPD, VP CoPA, RVPs for Regions 1, 3, 5, and 7) plus the new Directors at Large on a staggered basis and the new VP CoRA. The new Board will be confirmed at the HoD meeting at the PDC and take office on July 1, 2015. A Public Director would be determined by the new Board.
28. Is this putting too much power in the hands of a small group?
In 1994 the Board consisted of 26 members and this was reduced to 16. Was this putting too much power in the hands of a small group? It may have seemed so to those facing that change but we don't believe it turned out to be so. Now the Board is being reduced to 10. We do not feel the group is too small nor the power too much. The new bylaws do not increase the Board's powers. Also note , the RVPs and the Councils and their VP are not going away. They will still operate the regions and the councils. They will have some of the power as will the HoD. This new Board will not be operating in a vacuum.
29. What are the pro's and con's of this model?
The pros are:
- The Board will cost less to operate.
- The workload on the RVPs will be reduced with the intent that more people will be willing and able to serve in this vital role.
- The chapters should benefit from more RVP attention especially if the number of regions is increased and, therefore, the number of chapters per Region and RVP is reduced.
- The new VP of CoRA will add to the resources available to the Regions, chapters and RVPs.
- The reduced workload will also apply to the Council VPs.
- All volunteers on the Board will be voted on by the entire membership as will the council VPs.
- This allows the membership the ability to vote on 13 positions as opposed to only 8 now.
- This is intended to make all Board members Society-focused and not component focused and reduce silo thinking.
- This is intended to put the membership and the profession front and center on the Board's agenda.
- The expanded number of leadership roles and opportunities will provide a greater pool of experienced leaders for future Board service.
The cons are:
- It is new.
- There will be some learning as we go.
- It may move some people out of their comfort zone.
- There are no guarantees of success.
- To those on the outside it can look as if the chapters will be an additional layer away from the decision makers when in fact the Board doesn't make many chapter decisions. The RVPs in council do.
Again, those on the outside may ask why change after such consistently successful years of Society operations? The answers are simple. Yes we have been very successful but is this because of our current governance or in spite of it? Second our members, their work, the profession and the environment are changing rapidly. We must be perceptive enough to assess where we need to change to continue to be successful. Third do we change while on top and from a position of strength or wait until we begin to decline before we admit the need then to play catchup?
30. What is an example of an operational issue that the board currently deals with versus a strategic issue?
- How should the BoK be designed and marketed and priced?
- Risk initiative coordination between CoPA and CoPS.
- The structure of the Stars program
- Operations of a mentoring program
- Whether to grow students through chapters or student sections
- Whether PSJ should refer to the field as EH&S, SH&E or HSE.
- How to position the profession to influence C suite execs
- What will the SH&E professional of the future look like?
- What does/should ASSE stand for and how should we execute on that decision?
- How should we define success for ASSE?
- How do we prioritize the strategic plan?
- How should we define success for the safety profession?
- What are the threats to continued growth/success of the profession?
- What threats and opportunities come with globalization? What threats and opportunities come with US and global demographics?
31. Are the changes driving more “virtual” attendance at not only Board-related meetings but also PDC’s and other attendance-required meetings and conferences?
We don’t see these changes driving virtual meetings. We occasionally have teleconferences with the current Board. This would be easier to schedule with a smaller Board. Some work can be handled virtually and I assume this will become easier in the future with advances to technology. But some types of work are done better and more efficiently face-to-face. We are experimenting with ways to broadcast PDC and other educational sessions.
32. Will the Public Board member serve as the CEO of ASSE?
No. Never. The President of ASSE must be a Professional Member of ASSE.
33. Why non-ASSE member on nominations and elections committee?
There isn’t a non-member on the N&E Committee. The rules allow it but the N&E Committee hasn’t felt the need to add one. The theory was that a leadership expert or HR expert might be a valuable resource to help the committee select among potential nominees.
34. What are the milestones or metrics to determine if this restructure is working?
This is a great question. What are the milestones or metrics to determine if the current structure is working? A non-profit professional association is a different creature from a for-profit corporation that can count profit or stock price or market share as a sufficient metric. To be sure we could count members, reserves and profit to determine ASSE success. But that would not capture the whole picture and could lead the Society to focus on numbers at the expense of the membership and the profession. Certainly many of the metrics would be the same as we use currently including membership retention, “seats in chairs” at educational events and member satisfaction surveys. Some anecdotal information would be valuable including ability to attract member leaders and Board self-assessments.
35. What is the ASSE Board’s plan if this restructure plan is not approved?
The board and staff will continue to do their very best to operate the Society in the best way possible for the benefit of the members and the profession.
36. Will the public member be paid?
It is not anticipated that the Public Director be paid. Many organizations with public directors do not pay them. Some organizations do pay them. Our experience will determine whether our intention of no pay is feasible.
37. Do we need more Regions or would it be beneficial to divide the regions into areas?
A good question. I am not sure there is an easy answer. Of course not all regions have areas and the regions who don’t have areas feel as strongly against areas as the regions with areas feel in favor of them. This is a subject that should be discussed in the Council of Region Affairs by the RVPs. Their thinking is most valuable to this question, which is their area of expertise.
38. Will the Senior Vice President be a member at large or anyone?
The only requirement is that the Senior Vice President for Councils must be a professional member of the Society.
39. Will there be more regions?
The new structure anticipates an increase in the number of regions. This would allow the RVPs to provide better support to Chapters partly by reducing the Chapters per Region. Some populous states such as California and Texas may become Regions again. In addition, as the Society continues to grow globally, it’s anticipated that the need for Regional representation outside the United States will grow as well.
40. How do the RVP's get elected going forward?
The same as now. The Regional Nominations Committee will submit candidates to the Society Nominations and Elections Committee for approval. A regional election will determine the winner.
41. This new model appears to have fewer pathways from the membership to the board, rather than more. Specifically, one board member representing all members and Councils, rather than eight members (RVPs) representing our diverse membership. The four Directors don't appear to represent any group of members or interests. How will we ensure member interests are represented?
There are more pathways to the board since the number of RVPs will increase and there would be a new council VP for CORA. The experience of these positions will build the resume of the RVP and Council VP for consideration for board candidacy. The Council VPs represent all of the membership. Likewise, the board members elected by the membership will also represent all of the members. RVPs will continue to represent the chapters and regions.
42. I am interested in any dialogue that has taken place to formally include a representative from the academic world/institutions either in a council or as a director at large? Has that discussion in some fashion formally taken place as this process has unfolded?
Input has been received from the academic community and will be a continuing voice in the governance process.
43. How does this help ensure regional representation? Under the current system, we have our RVP to represent our region, but under the new format the Director-at-large position is elected society wide. It is very likely that areas of the country will be completely left out of representation on the board.
All geographical segments of the country (regions and chapters) will be represented on the Council on Region Affairs. All areas of practice will be represented on the Council on Practices and Standards. All of both would be represented on the House of Delegates. The goal is for the Board to be relevant, strategic and nimble.
44. How is Society ensuring accountability for operational decisions made by councils with a "hands off" approach?
The Board is and under the new model remains the governing body of the Society. Society Operating Guidelines (SOG) are approved by the Board and entities of the Society are obliged to conform to these SOGs.
45. My concern is the 8 BoD votes coming from 'national vote' rather than regional votes. It appears to me that this would decrease local chapter input at the regional level. I contend that the coasts don't necessarily care what the mid-west may need- the needs may be different. Also, population (i.e. national votes) appears clustered w/ large cities and these tend to be along the coasts thus building-in an inherent 'edge' to those regions. --I think I'm referring to what you have called the "at large" positions.
We have no evidence that the coasts vote more than the Midwest. In fact, some evidence suggests the opposite. Years of analysis and experience tend to show that chapter needs do not vary by region. Mostly they vary by size. Member needs, also, don’t vary as much by region/geography as they do by age, practice area and type of employer (e.g., big vs. small; regional vs. national vs. global).
46. What are some examples of the strategic issues-I would think there would be more operational issues and a lot more work at that level than at the strategic level-so why do we need all the board members working on fewer issues-seems out of balance to me.
Separating operational issues from strategic issues does not mean minimizing operational issues. Oversight of issues will remain a core responsibility of the ASSE Board. However, day-to-day operational issues will be addressed at the Council level. Councils have the expertise to handle these issues without Board involvement. This change will result in a more efficient decision making process and free up Board time so they can focus on strategic issues related to the profession and the Society. Strategic issues are no fewer and are more challenging and ever changing. Some examples of strategic issues may include:
- Health is the next big frontier for SH&E professionals. What does ASSE need to do to take a leadership role in advancing our members interest in occupational health and wellness?
- How can ASSE increase the global influence of the SH&E profession? (global standards, partnering with global SH&E organizations, working with global SH&E organizations and agencies, etc.)
47. Why don't you stager the terms of the Members-at-Large?
Terms on the BoD will continue to be staggered as they are now.
48. Are there any paid positions? Which ones, what is annual salary?
The only paid position on the Board of Directors is the staff Executive Director / Secretary position. This is a non-voting position.
49. I am concerned that the nominations and elections committee who will be selecting the slate of the BoD at large positions has no tie to the membership anymore. They are past officers who no longer serve as an elected capacity. How will absolute power be addressed?
The proposed governance model will enable ASSE to increase the field of qualified candidates for board-level positions. By expanding opportunities for member involvement and engagement, and by establishing a mentoring process, the Society will be able to better identify, recruit and mentor members interested in ASSE leadership at the earliest stage. The availability of additional qualified candidates, along with the checks and balances contained within the nominating and elections process, will ensure that ASSE puts forth a highly qualified candidate slate year after year. Further, using past officers takes advantage of those most highly experienced in Society leadership and those less likely to have a personal or political agenda since their time of greatest involvement has passed.
50. How will restructure of the national board assist in the sustainability of the local chapter? Reason for asking membership engagement is cited as a reason for restructure but nothing in this proposal appears to help the local chapter. Also, the proposal calls for additional elected positions (new regions, CoRA VP) which adds to the burden for more volunteerism.
The first purpose of this model is to improve the functioning of the Board of Directors not to solve all of the problems of the Society. However, there is a logic supported by our outside consultant to start at the top of the organization first and work down. The growth of member engagement is in the practice specialties, common interest groups and globally. It is only fair that these areas be given more focus. It is intended to benefit chapters by reducing the workload of the RVP thus leaving them more time to focus on Chapters and to add Regions so that each RVP has fewer chapters to focus on. The true burden of volunteerism is taking up too much of a volunteer‘s time on administrative activities which are not enjoyable, do not best use the volunteers talents and abilities, and don’t make a difference in the world.
51. If the VP of Finance sets certain projects/activities in place but is not re-elected, how does this impact the ongoing activities that impact the other Board activities?
The role of the VP Finance will remain the same. The VP Finance is the treasurer for the Society, chairs the Finance Committee, oversees the Society’s financial policies, recommends a budget to the Board for approval, and reports to the Board and HoD the financial condition of the Society. This position does not set projects and activities for the Society. Those functions are set by the Councils and the Board of Directors.
52. How do you address the additional representation of the common interest groups in the House of Delegates? Does each group receive only one delegate or is the group’s number based on the member number in the group such as is done with the Chapters? Aren’t the groups composed of members who already represented by their HOD and would therefore have two votes for every issue compared to someone who isn’t a member of a group?
The Common Interest Group (CIG) delegate count would not be treated like the chapter delegate count. CIG delegates would be treated like the Practice Specialty delegates whereas each group has an elected administrator and that administrator is the delegate of the group. This is the current practice for Practice Specialties and would become the practice for CIGs. This would essentially add four delegates to the HOD (one administrator from each of the Common Interest Groups: Women in Safety Engineering, Blacks in Safety Engineering, Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce and Young Professionals in SH&E)
As written each common interest group will have one vote in the HOD. That’s four votes out of 239 votes or 1.67%. This is felt to be a statistically insignificant number. As to the dual votes thought, this assumes idea has been around respecting practice specialties as well. It assumes that the PS and CIG members are represented by their chapters. In some cases that is true. In some cases the PS and CIG members do not participate at the chapter level and their voices aren’t heard there.
53. Region I does not have Area Directors, so if these were elected it would serve a very similar purpose, without the larger restructure.
Yes and no. Region 1 has chosen not to have area directors. Perhaps having them would reduce the workload of the RVP but it would also add another layer (of bureaucracy?) between the chapters and the RVP. Some regions don’t want to do this as they find the direct participation of chapter presidents in the ROC to be more important. It’s an example of allowing local differences to be expressed.
54. The current model as it exists in Region II, allows for membership/chapter leaders to get to know their RVP candidates based on those candidates historically serving in an Area Director or regional leadership roles. The new model would not allow for this to consistently occur, since not every region would necessarily be represented with the new At-Large positions.
This is an interesting, and understandable question. Currently members may have a greater chance of knowing the candidates for their region’s RVP position.
The thinking is correct but it only applies to one member of the current sixteen-member Board (your RVP.) Knowing the candidates has not proven to be much of an incentive to most members since fewer than 13% of members on average voted in the last three elections.
The tradeoff is being able to vote for more Society leaders. A member can now vote for eight of sixteen Board members (their RVP, three Council VPs, the VP of Finance, and Senior VP, who ascends to President-Elect and President.)
Under the new governance model a member will be able to vote for eight of ten Board members plus their RVP plus four Council VPs. This is a total of thirteen leadership positions.
55. How is my chapter voice going to be represented at the Board level if there are going to be so many filters?
This question raises an interesting perspective. Should chapters be represented at the Board or should members be represented at the Board? The new board will attempt to represent all 36,000 members and the profession. Chapters, councils, practice specialties and common interest groups will be represented and administered at the council level. Instead of being a filter to chapter concerns, the new Council on Region Affairs will be closer to the chapters, focused on the chapters and, therefore, hopefully more responsive to the chapters.
56. Will the current regional structure be aligned and if so is there a map available for review?
Although the new model was developed with the idea that regional expansion should be strongly considered, the Board wanted to leave it to the Regional Vice Presidents to have that discussion and make those decisions. The Board felt those decisions should be made by those closer and more knowledgeable of the regional operations. So such a map does not yet exist.
57. If we are electing 8 of the 10 Board members, how are the other two selected? What are their roles?
The other two members of the Board are the Public Member who is a voting member of the Board and is chosen by the Board. This person is not a member of ASSE and the position is used to bring an outside voice to Board deliberations. The other position is the Executive Director who is a Board member without vote and the chief staff officer of the Society. The Board hires this person.