Transparency and Fairness in Credit Union Elections … Maybe Not!
Written by: Peter Allen
Credit unions are the unsung heroes of the banking world. Each member’s deposit is protected in a similar fashion as those in a chartered bank. Credit unions represent the interests of their members and the communities they serve.
The principle of an election at a credit union should be that the members elect the directors. As a member of a credit union, you have a say in the direction your credit union takes through your choice of directors. The board of directors are responsible for the strategic direction of the credit union. But is it that simple? Maybe, maybe not!
If you want to be a part of the strategic direction, then a member who meets the legal requirements can become a board member. Do you know the process of electing the board at your credit union? Is it a fair and transparent process?
An example of the board nomination process at the Kawartha Credit Union (as directed by its by-law) is you complete an application and if your application is accepted, you are listed as a candidate on their website. Now you have the nominating committee interview, understandable as the credit union wants to ensure that you meet the requirements. Hold on, what requirements? You have already been screened for the legal requirements, so what other requirements? At Kawartha, a nominating committee (made up from the board of directors) screens each candidate and makes a decision on your suitability to the board. Why does the board get to pick who should be a director? It means the nominating committee are ,at best, already casting a vote for the nominee or ,at worse, pre-selecting the board of directors. Then the “recommended” candidates are approved by the board at large. To make matters worse, the “recommended” candidates get a star by their name on the website for the entire world to see and are mentioned as “recommended” at the Annual general meeting! Some names just disappear from the initial published website list, unless they choose to run independently without the recommendation of the board.
So much for the members electing the board! It’s more like cherry-picking your candidates and asking the membership to vote for the board of directors’ favorites! Research how your board of directors is nominated at your banking institution. Check its by-laws. Can the board of directors pre-select the candidates?
If you bank at Kawartha, check out the website and see the listing of the board of directors’ candidates (recommended and not recommended). You will see my name. I’m one of the black sheep (not recommended). If you think the process at Kawartha is not fair or transparent, vote for one of the “not recommended” candidates to show your support of a fair and transparent voting process – all candidates, not just the favorites!
You can vote on line through the website from February 22 to March 4 or vote in person at the AGM on March 23 2016. I’ll still be on the list … as an independent candidate!
Make sure your credit union has a truly open election – members elect the board! And not what the board of directors decides they want!
Written by: Peter Allen (Board of Directors’ Candidate for the Kawartha Credit Union), Roblin, Ontario. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org