A question about board transparency was asked recently in the chamber professionals group on Facebook.
Here is my take.
Members of the Chamber Professionals Community can read the group’s comments below.
Let’s be honest — board meetings are usually not something that would be of very much interest to your general membership.
Most members are much too busy running their businesses and their lives to want to attend a board meeting. Plus most board meetings are…well, boring.
Board meetings are functional — not entertaining — they’re about the business at hand.
Michael’s question addressed all facets of board transparency from member attendance to outgoing communications, so let’s explore both.
Be open to a member who proactively wants to participate
In my experience, at my chamber and others I’ve worked with or gotten to know, if a member really has an interest in attending a particular board meeting to see how the discussion goes on a topic of interest, they shouldn’t be excluded from it.
If you approach the President/CEO of most chambers, as a member interested in a particular discussion, most will grant the member access. This access is usually as an attendee only. The member should not expect to address the board or be given a spot on the agenda. The member can expect to witness the meeting and be treated as a courteous observer, but the member is not part of the meeting.
There are times where the Presdient/CEO or chairman might invite the member to offer an opinion if the topic directly affects the member or membership.
While attendance may be permissible, communication is debatable. It depends on the business at hand. The meeting minutes are probably fully shareable unless it’s an executive committee meeting dealing with staff issues, pay and private things of that nature.
However, “shareable” does not mean they must be published in a public forum such as a newsletter.
Even if your board meetings are fully transparent and allow for member attendance, the onus is on the member to make the effort to attend and be a courteous observer.