But isn't it just an old boys' club?

The average number of male board members in Credit Unions across Canada is 70% –Servus has 58%.

The longest continuously serving Servus board member is a woman.

The average tenure of the board is only 8 years (including predecessor credit unions) despite no formal limits.

The average percentage of directors aged 35-65 in Canada is 71% – Servus is 83%.

So Servus is, statistically, more female, younger and turns over faster than most Credit Unions in the country.

But more importantly is the Servus board’s proactive approach to succession and training.

At Servus, we regularly look at what are the most important skills the board needs to deliver the best value to its members. We do our best to find candidates that have those skills. And tenured board members who don’t have those skills are not allowed to stand for re-election[1].

If the membership chooses candidates that still leave a skill gap, we do two things: we train the existing members and we hire help. Every director is given a generous budget for training. The key goal of this budget is to ensure that sitting directors get the skills they need to be strong contributing members. But some skills can’t be trained, at least not in a 3-year term, so we hire help. The board has a budget for hiring outside advisors either on an ad-hoc basis or on a continuing basis (like the Audit and Finance Committee advisor). Those advisors are generally professionals in the subject area that act on behalf of the board to provide impartial advice on management’s recommendations.

An old boy’s club suggests that an existing board of old, (generally) white, men manipulate the elections to ensure their old, (generally) white male friends are elected to join them. While the Servus board could better represent the membership ethnically, it is one of the best in the country at ensuring that the members, you, have board members with the best, most current skills possible representing you every day.

‘Till next time, up up and away!

This article is part of a series. You can read the whole series at http://twentyfivetwenty.ca.​

[1] In 2015 a director of more than 20 years had their nomination rejected by the nominating committee as not a good fit for the board moving forward.


Jon Holt

A coach, an entrepreneur, and a no-bull advisor in growing small businesses through the use of practical strategy, light-weight governance and sitting back and thinking about running your business, regardless of what you do.

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