Image from Governing with a difference event

Dr Kaneez Shaid, Chair of Citizens UK, speaking at Governing with a difference.

We were joined by over 60 Chairs and Vice Chairs on Tuesday for our Governing with a difference evening. It was great to see many new members attending, as well as some familiar faces.

Our panel of speakers provoked lots of thought and discussion. They ranged across letting go of perceptions of what good governance is; who holds power in the organisation; the need to be endlessly curious, the importance of humility and shared values; and the power of a shared methodology to unite a movement. The panel included Dr Kaneez Shaid, Chair of Citizens UK, Srabani Sen, Chair of 38 Degrees and Philip Kirkpatrick, Deputy Managing Partner and Head of Charity at Bates Wells.

Each panellist talked about how their respective organisations approach governance:

Philip Kirkpatrick opened the session by arguing that the legal framework is usually not the problem, at least at the outset, though it tends to frame the questions asked. A growing issue is personal liability.  He highlighted the increased scrutiny charities are under, the growing need for assurance and the strains this can put on trust especially between the board and the executive.

Kaneez Shaid spoke about how Citizens UK’s campaigning is led by its members and how that influences their governance. Members of the movement have a shared methodology which is reflected in all that they do. This includes an emphasis on meeting one to one, in person. She identified three core things Citizens UK does well: clear structure, clear rules and boundaries, and good behaviours.

Srabani Sen explained how 38 Degrees’ purpose is to engage people with democracy and how their campaigning work is completely determined by their members, which involves constantly engaging with them to find out their priorities and acting on them, even if they are not what the board expected. Srabani highlighted that the board’s approach has to reflect that they’re not the ones setting the direction, the members are.

The panel’s diverse experiences and approaches to governance generated insightful and diverse conversations during our networking session.

Thank you to CCLA for kindly hosting Governing with a difference.