Governance Policies and Standards
We hold ourselves to the highest standards of accountable corporate governance and scrupulously avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest. The following are Friends Fiduciary’s key internal policies in the area of governance:
Strict policy regarding conflict of interest. Friends Fiduciary’s board of directors consists entirely of volunteers who receive no compensation of any kind. No board member (or family member or business partner of a board member) may sell any goods or services to Friends Fiduciary or have any financial relationship with the organization.
Highly qualified board. The nominating process for the board of directors is rigorous and exhaustive. Friends Fiduciary board members are leaders in the Quaker community with seasoned business judgment and special expertise directly relevant to Friends Fiduciary’s mission. They understand “best practices” in accountable corporate governance and they act accordingly. We are confident that our restriction to members of the Religious Society of Friends is a source of strength in assuring the quality of the skill sets on the board and the wisdom of board decisions.
Quaker process. Decisions at Friends Fiduciary follow Quaker principles. We endeavor to govern by the sense of the meeting. We expect everyone who is entrusted with a leadership position to have excellent clerking skills and experience. We take great pains to involve all affected people in our decision-making. We operate in an atmosphere of trust that encourages candor and questioning.
Careful attention to assignments and professional development. We take very seriously the importance of assigning the right person to the right project. Thus, our board chair and vice chair exhibit model clerking skills, and each of our committee clerks is recognized as expert in the subject matter of that committee. Our Governance Committee regularly reviews the structure and design of the board and acts as needed to reorganize for efficiency and effectiveness. Our Human Resources Committee does the same with respect to the staff.
Effective meetings. Board agendas and meetings are carefully planned to ensure adequate time for thoughtful discussion, rather than passive receipt of presentations. Board and committee members receive materials well in advance (normally 7 days ahead) of the meeting date, in order to ensure they have adequate time to conduct a meaningful review. Board members’ record of attendance in boards and committee meetings is extremely high. Where necessary, Board members are in contact with management and outside advisors outside of these meetings to ensure that action items resulting from these discussions are completed and in order to ensure that they maintain appropriate levels of oversight. We also pay attention to the need for ongoing education and skill-building for Board members.
Robust succession planning. We invest heavily in professional growth for staff and board alike, and we plan for succession for all key positions, also for staff and board alike.
Culture of integrity, openness, and accountability. Everyone at Friends Fiduciary is part of a system of professional growth and high standards, with regular, candid, formal evaluation of performance. These processes reach every employee in the organization, including the Executive Director, and every board member, including the Chair. Evaluations of the Executive Director, other members of the staff and of the board Chair are in writing, followed by a discussion session, and point out not only the person’s strengths, but specific areas on which to focus for improvement.
Approved by the Board of Directors: October 4, 2011