Voici un cas publié sur le site de Julie McLelland qui aborde une question de gouvernance relative à la composition du conseil d’administration d’un OBNL.
Vance préside le conseil d’administration ; il a décidé d’exploiter les forces de son réseau de contacts et de s’impliquer personnellement dans le processus de recherche d’un nouvel administrateur.
Le processus de recherche conduit à la réception de deux excellentes candidatures, alors que l’on ne cherchait à pourvoir qu’un poste.
Vance se demande quelles considérations devraient orienter son action !
Le cas a d’abord été traduit en français en utilisant Google Chrome, puis, je l’ai édité et adapté. On y présente la situation de manière sommaire, puis trois experts se prononcent sur le cas.
Bonne lecture ! Vos commentaires sont toujours les bienvenus.
Vance préside le conseil d’administration d’une entreprise à but lucratif non lucratif (OBNL) qui aide les enfants défavorisés. Comme de nombreux présidents d’OBNL, il essaie de réunir un conseil de bénévoles passionnés axé sur les compétences. Au cours des 12 derniers mois, il a recouru à son réseau pour trouver un avocat avec les bonnes passions et les bonnes compétences.
Il y a deux mois, une connaissance l’a présenté à quelqu’un qui avait l’air parfait. L’introduction a été faite et le « futur administrateur » était tout ce que Vance avait espéré. La conversation s’est déplacée vers les familles et Vance a appris que la personne était mariée à un autre avocat avec une formation très similaire ; ils s’étaient rencontrés au travail et, bien qu’ils soient maintenant dans différentes entreprises, ils pratiquaient toujours dans des domaines similaires.
Vance a parlé au conseil d’administration de sa rencontre avec leur nouveau collègue potentiel et ils ont convenu que le futur administrateur recevrait un dossier de candidature et qu’il serait invité à se présenter aux élections.
Il y a cinq jours, Vance a reçu deux candidatures pour le poste. Les deux conjoints veulent rejoindre le conseil d’administration.
Ainsi le conseil, qui n’avait aucune expertise juridique en son sein, se retrouve avec deux candidatures d’avocats qualifiés lesquels possédant exactement le profil souhaité. Il n’est cependant pas certain de vouloir les deux personnes, ni comment choisir l’une d’entre elles, s’il ne prend pas les deux.
Réponse de Robert
It is not unusual for Chairs to scour their networks for potential directors. As many as 65% of director roles in Australia are filled without going to a formal recruitment stage, so Vance’s dilemma is not uncommon. For Vance, his challenge comes in the form of practicing good leadership and ensuring good governance practices.
There are two levels of conflict for Vance to consider. Vance has a potential internal conflict of not wanting to hurt anyone which may impair his judgement. Vance also has a potential conflict of interest as he has met the directors individually outside of a formal nominations process and has formed a somewhat biased view, i.e. this is the perfect director to fill this position.
Working in the best interest of the organisation, I would advise Vance to immediately step back and hand over the process to an independent director or (nomination) committee to ensure proper process. He also needs to be clear that the final decision will be a joint one, not his alone.
Although the prospect of recruiting two highly sought-after directors to your non-profit board is tantalising, the board and/or committee should consult their skills matrix, review the role requirements, and decide if they actually need two lawyers. They should also consider broader factors such as relevance of past experience, diversity and interpersonal skills.
The board could also consider offering a position on a committee for the unsuccessful candidate with a view of nomination at the next intake.
In the worst case scenario having aligned directors, such as family members, can impair independence in discussion and decision making, create voting blocks and hamper processes if one director needs to be stood down. If both are appointed, I would advise the whole board to discuss and develop strategies to minimise these types of issues before they arise.
Robert Crowe is Chairman of Connect Child and Family Services and Managing Director of Leading for Purpose. He is based in Sydney , Australia.
Réponse de Julie
There is no law against married couples being members of the same board. This is rarely covered in constitutions although some constitutions require directors to be independent of other directors and members of staff.
Directors must act independently of each other and never act as a unit. Having a voting block, even if only two, seriously reduces a board’s ability to reach informed consensus.
The board needs to access diverse skills and experiences to enrich debate and enhance decision-making. Two board members from the same generation, with similar professional backgrounds and skills, and living in the same geographic and socio-economic environment, inevitably reduces overall board diversity.
People aren’t lego-bricks. Feelings may be hurt if he declines one candidate. Vance could be in a situation where his board gets both or neither.
Vance needs to balance the undoubted value that these candidates offer against the next skills needed under his board’s succession plan. Can the board operate effectively without those skills? What will be the impact on the projected skills matrix for the next nine years?
Finally Vance needs to evaluate the board’s processes. Does the nomination pack suggest that completing the paperwork automatically leads to standing for election (or appointment to a casual vacancy)? Does the board want to include a nominations committee to get more strategic in targeting skills? How are conflicts of interest registered, declared and managed? Is the current process good enough to handle issues arising from a married couple both on the board? Can the chair manage discussions well enough?
If the systems and succession plan can cope Vance should cope also.
Julie Garland McLellan is a non-executive director and board consultant based in Sydney, Australia.
Réponse de Keith
Having a married couple in any organization has its challenges and certainly this is no different on a Board of Directors.
It is advisable to always be sure to undergo an independent search process to insure that your organization is seeing the top talent the market has to offer, unbiassed consul on available candidates and a proven process for selection.
In this case, consider: why this family have a passion for this organization? what is reasoning for them both to apply? Posing these questions to them, you may find one of the spouses withdraws rather quickly when they speak to each other. Assuming they are of equal abilities and fit, this removes the dilemma. If they have solid reasoning it becomes trickier.
Having a married couple on a board would certainly create potential conflict of interest. On the other hand (as most married couples would attest to) they don’t always agree and could work in a constructive and absolutely independent manner. A major consideration also is the size, breadth and revenue of your NFP and are there major contracts awarded? If so, can they be in anyway influenced by the board? This being the case, it could be called into question if a contract is awarded where they have some personal gain. Even though this conflict is no different than on any board of directors, it could create a major issue.
If the board has two seats available don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So long as their intentions are sound and their skills are relevant. This could provide your organization with a power couple fundraising/PR “dynamic duo”.
Keith Labbett is Co-founder and Co-chair of The Canadian University Mens Rugby Championship and Managing Partner of Osprey Executive Search. He is based in Toronto, Canada.