We have a number of documents that lay out the roles and responsibilities of a CB member, and we can furnish this to interested members. But we thought as these are quite technical and legalistic — we would prepare a more informal frequently asked questions that will give you a sense of whether you want to explore the role in more depth.
If you want to answer any questions directly — email secretary (at) dublinfood.coop.
What is the CB?
The CB is the Board of the Dublin Food Co-op. The Board is responsible for overseeing the management of the Co-op on behalf of the members, setting the strategic direction of the organisation and ensuring that continue to operate in accordance with our purpose, values and principles.
They serve as a crucial link between the members and the management of the Co-op.
What are my duties as a CB member?
All CB members attend regular CB meetings (12 ordinary meetings a year, 2 hours each), adequately prepare by reading reports and during these meetings participate fully in overseeing the management and setting Co-op policy.
You will also take part in the strategic planning process — defining the aims and goals of the organisation on behalf of the members.
All of the above must be down, in good faith, in the best interests of all the members of the Co-op.
A CB member is also expected to attend each AGM, as well as any other General Meetings called by the CB.
What lies outside the duties of a CB member?
A CB member does not typically engage in the day to day management of the Co-op.
At present the Co-op has a professional management staff who are responsible for the day-to-day management of the Co-op and report to the CB on a monthly basis.
The policies and priorities of the CB are implemented by the management, and it is the role of the CB to provide effective oversight of the management as they exercise their role. If the CB would like to see changes to the way that the Co-op is managed, they will typically doing this by setting new policies which the management will endeavour to follow.
Will I receive any support as a CB member?
Yes — more experienced members of the CB and office holders like the Chair and the Secretary are on hand to provide practical support and guidance in the exercise of your duties.
At the start of your term — you will be given an induction into the role, and over the course of the year you will be offered appropriate training.. This will be in the form of CPD and will provide you with strong transferrable skills for your future endeavours.
You will also be able to rely on the advice of ICOS via the Secretary, as well as our HR and legal consultants.
What kind of skills does a CB member need?
The primary purpose of the CB is to make good decisions. So a good CB member needs to be able to exercise judgement and make decisions.
Previous experience of being on a Board or committee (of a Co-op, a business, a charity or a community project) brings a lot to the CB — with specific experience around strategy, financial oversight and governance always in demand.
Experience of the ethical/sustainable food retail sector, sustainable farming, community development, circular economy, ethical business, co-operatives, e-commerce, environmental activism and other areas that come within our values are good qualifications.
However the Co-op has always prided itself on having a wide range of experience levels on the board — and competent, constructive members with a strong affinity with Co-op values are always in demand!
How do I become a CB member?
The best way is to reach out to the CB and ask for an invitation to the next CB meeting.
You will be able to get a sense for the culture of the CB, and get some a grounding in what the typical work of the CB is.
Next, if there are casual vacancies on the CB you could ask to be considered for co-option to the CB — this would mean that you would come onto the CB until the next AGM.
If you feel you have necessary skills, experience and values — you could put yourself forward for election. You will need to fill out a nomination form which is circulated before the AGM each year.
You will then be put yourself forward for election at the AGM — were the members will elect a minimum of 3 new CB members for a three year term.
P.S. Some interesting links;
Great resources from Co-operatives UK (situation there is different, but comparable to Ireland.)
Irish Co-operative Organisations Society gives an outline of director’s duties.
Companies Registration Office gives guidance on company director’s duties (broadly equivalent to those applying to co-operatives).