‘Our role holding the Employee Ownership Association to account to help it hit its targets and mission’ | EOA Board showcase

A member of the Employee Ownership Association’s Board has spoken of its role in helping to “hold the EOA to account”.

We want to raise awareness and highlight the work of our Board, for example in helping during the recent recruitment process to find a new chief executive.

To gain a perspective from someone that sits on the EOA Board, Charlotte Tickle has revealed how it “helps the EOA be successful in hitting its targets and its mission”.

Charlotte, pictured, who is the People and Culture Director at EOA member Riverford Organic Farmers, has been a member of the EOA Board for more than two years.

The EOA Board, which meets four times a year and is chaired by Chris McDermott of 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan, supports the Chief Executive in agreeing the direction and strategy of the association, acting as a sounding board for new ideas and monitoring the progress of the strategy.

Board directors serve a three-year term and are also expected to take a leadership role in promoting awareness of the sector.

“There is definitely an element of holding the EOA to account, there’s also supporting with the financials and making sure they are on track,” says Charlotte.

“The EOA is a small business so it doesn’t have the financial power to have certain specialist roles, so we are there to provide that expertise or provide someone who can help in a way that otherwise makes it quite untenable really.”

Why I put my name forward to be on the Board

Charlotte says she joined the Board “to give something back to the employee ownership sector” after the EOA “had helped Riverford a lot on our journey to employee ownership”.

She added: “Because of the EOA’s broader purpose in promoting employee ownership, it feels like being a Board member really helps support and promote employee ownership as a really good model, while helping the EOA build and be more successful so that it can do more of that.

“I think our specific role on the Board is to help the EOA be successful in hitting its targets and its mission, so we’ve been doing a lot of work on the association’s strategy and on where we’re trying to go, on what does good look like in three years’ time, and what does that mean for the membership offer.

“Because, fundamentally, the EOA has to make enough money to be able to talk to people about employee ownership, it’s about how we make sure the membership proposition continues to be of interest, relevant, and people want to be part of it.

“It is challenging as it is a board non-executive role and in my current role as a board member at Riverford I can get in and do stuff and make things happen. But this is a very different role at the EOA in that you’re challenging, asking questions, opening doors for the team to talk to people, and sharing any expertise we’ve got.”

Examples of the work of the Board

Charlotte has outlined some of the specific examples of the work the EOA Board does, including helping with the recruitment process to appoint James de le Vingne as our new CEO to replace Deb Oxley OBE, who is leaving the organisation after nine years.

She was part of the nominations committee during the shortlisting process, and was then on the panel, chaired by Chris McDermott, that conducted interviews for the job. She also helped interview for new recruits to the Board recently to replace members coming to the end of their tenure.

Furthermore, she added: “We attend Board meetings giving a view on things like the Annual Conference, the Membership Council, and as well as being involved in the whole strategic review, we’ve been looking at digital transformation plans of the EOA, how we scale up as employee ownership grows and how we tap into all those businesses that aren’t currently EOA members.”

Benefits of being part of the Board

Charlotte says she has benefitted from seeing how another board works, and the governance linked to that, and from having other business people she can tap into from the Board to help open doors for her and Riverford.

She says she would encourage anyone interested in getting involved with the EOA at any level to get involved.

“I think it’s a really good thing to put your time to,” she said. “It’s a really worthwhile thing that you can do and genuinely be useful and help an organisation do something that is really good.

“Trying to promote employee ownership is something we all care about as part of employee-owned businesses, so if you’re willing and you have some time, because it does take time and it is challenging, then you get a lot from it and I think you can give a lot back.”

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