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Focus for 2021: Co‑operative Governance Expert Reference Panel

Blog post

Emma Laycock
Written by
Emma Laycock
4th February 2021
Emma Laycock

The Co‑operative Governance Expert Reference Panel, led and facilitated by Co‑operatives UK, has set its priorities for 2021 and has appointed three additional members to bring their skills and expertise to support the Panel to meet its objectives.

The Co-operative Governance Expert Reference Panel enables Co‑operatives UK members to shape areas of strategic priority for the UK co‑operative movement in the field of governance.

The Panel is the custodian of the governance agenda for co‑operatives in the UK, and works to set governance standards for co‑operatives, encouraging innovation, active challenge and debate.

We welcome new Panel members

The Panel has appointed Graeme Nuttall (Fieldfisher) and Bob Cannell to the Panel as expert advisers in the fields of employee ownership and worker co-operatives respectively. We have also appointed Abbie Kempson, from Unicorn Grocery, as a Panel Adviser to provide specific knowledge and expertise around sociocracy.

Angela Lomax, chair of the Panel, says:

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It’s so important that the Panel is able to represent, and consider the needs of, all of the different types and sizes of co-operatives.
– Angela Lomax, Chair, Co-operative Expert Reference Panel

"I am delighted to welcome our three new Panel Members. Their extensive expertise and experience will bring great benefits to the Panel and the guidance it distributes. It’s so important that the Panel is able to represent, and consider the needs of, all of the different types and sizes of co‑operatives. Bob bring many years of practical experience of worker co‑operative governance and I am sure he will bring a new and valuable perspective to the Panel. It is great that we will have, in Graeme, a specialist in employee ownership on the Panel for this first time."

"The Panel also chose to bring Abbie Kempson on as a special adviser due to her extensive and hands on knowledge of sociocracy as well as her experience of work and governance in a worker co‑operative. I am pleased and positive that we have a strong, skilled group of experts to take the work of the Panel forward.”

Priorities for 2021

The Panel’s priorities for 2021 are mindful of the demands of the current operating environment and are as follows:

  • Dynamic governance: The Panel will be looking at different methods of decision making in co‑operatives, and will look particularly at sociocracy and methods of distributed governance used by those co‑operatives who rarely, or never, meet in person. The Panel are lucky to have Abbie Kempson and Mark Simmonds as members as they are two of the most experienced sociocracy practitioners in the UK. We will be reviewing the previous guidance distributed by the Panel to ensure it considers a range of decision making methods.
  • Risk and resilience: Following up from the Panel led session at the 2020 Practitioners Forum, the Panel will focus on the role of risk management in governance. It will produce guidance and templates to ensure that co‑operatives can put in place used and useful processes to identify, manage and review risk. The guidance will focus on the role of the Board in risk management and how effective risk management seeks to promote more resilient organisations.
  • Member scrutiny: The Panel will be working with the Centre for Governance to develop guidance on setting up and running an effective member council in a co‑operative. The guidance will provide information on what governance arrangements should be put in place to ensure democratic member participation and ownership alongside effective scrutiny.

If you would like further information on the Panel and its work please contact [email protected].

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