Welcome to a new year! The OTW has certainly seen a lot of changes in the past year. In the case of the Board, we recently have said goodbye to veteran Directors Ira Gladkova and Kristen Murphy, and hello to new Director Anna Genoese.
In our first post of the year, we’d like to focus on the criticism the OTW has received about the abrasive nature of interpersonal relations within the org. Personnel difficulties have accounted for what we consider to be a high rate of volunteer attrition. Due to this, many of Board’s Directors have publicly indicated their interest in working to fix this problem.
We’d like to give a status update.
In the last year, one of the biggest changes the OTW has seen is the introduction of the Code of Conduct (COC) and its enforcement thanks to the Volunteers & Recruiting Committee. The COC offers specific rules and procedures for use in reporting harmful behavior, as well as conflicts between staffers and chairs.
The COC is executed through the use of the Constructive Corrective Action Procedure (CCAP), also administered through the Volunteers & Recruiting Committee. The CCAP focuses on clarity of communication, rather than punishment. It is action-oriented, and carried out in a manner that respects the nondiscrimination statement in the Code of Conduct.
The COC and CCAP do still have few rough edges, which is only to be expected. They are being addressed as they are noticed, and we definitely welcome input to help the OTW better serve its volunteers.
Despite the rough edges, we’re hopeful that OTW volunteers see the COC and CCAP as something that helps define our organizational culture–we want people to feel safe volunteering for the OTW. We want people to feel that their work is appreciated. We can do that in part by providing a safe and welcoming space for them to work in, and in part by ensuring that problematic and/or hurtful interactions can be dealt with fairly and confidentially.
Another part of our work on this is the Board’s documentation project. The main limitation of Constructive Corrective Action Procedure is that it cannot be applied to members of the Board of Directors. The Board is governed by the bylaws of the OTW, and therefore is not accountable to committees. Currently, the only way a Director can be removed is through a recall vote of the membership. Therefore, the Board is currently working on–with input from our committees–documents that deal with how to address complaints to Directors, a procedure to take action against a Director, and an outline of what reasonable expectations are for a Director.
What we as Directors hope is that people see these as the first steps we’re taking toward becoming a better organization–which is, as any organization will tell you, a process that never ends.
As always, we welcome comments, critique, and suggestions for how to help shape the OTW into an organization you want to be part of and support. We’d also love for you to come join us to help us implement these changes over the next year and beyond.
The Board of Directors