Some people have said they don’t like that we’ve recommended that there should be no job shares for the new Council, the Board and some of the Political Executive.
We recognise that this seems a bit odd, as our party is entirely in favour of job shares and flexible working for lots of good reasons, and we’ve had a lot of people on various committees and bodies as job shares in the past. Plus, of course, we’ve just had great success with our job share leaders Caroline and Jonathan.
Here’s why we’re recommending that the new bodies don’t have job shares.
The new roles aren’t jobs
We’ve talked to hundreds of Green Party members over the past few months. And people have consistently pointed out just how much we ask of people who step up to volunteer their time, skills and energy to help the party. We’ve also heard a lot of members talk about the dangers of burn out, overworking and being asked to do more and more to the point of exhaustion.
Some people who have been on our current governing bodies (GPEx and GPRC) in the past have said that they wouldn’t want to do this again because of the enormous workload they’ve had from being on these committees. Including people who were in job shares.
We think we’re asking too much of people, and that this isn’t sustainable in the long run. Having people on our governing bodies who have to do this as an unpaid, often full-time job isn’t fair to them. And it means that these positions aren’t viable for anyone who already has a job, has children, or is a carer. It’s one of the reasons many people drop out quickly – and then we have people co-opted in.
Before we were a bigger party, we probably needed to have this work done purely by volunteers. They got us to where we are now. But now, we have staff who do a lot of this work. So we’ve recommended that the current portfolio jobs we have on GPEx at the moment, like External Comms Coordinator or Campaigns Coordinator, aren’t needed any more.
We need to share the work out more widely and have a better structure as we grow as a party.
The Council is about representing members
The people who will be on the new Council are there to represent all the other members. To set the strategy between conferences and make sure that we move forward on that strategy. The Council will meet four times a year, and no one should have to feel that they are getting burnt out because of their work on the Council. They should be able to fit in their work on the Council alongside all the other things in their lives.
And we’ve introduced Task and Finish groups to do specific things, such as work on the detail of a new policy, or improve our Equalities and Diversity. Some council members will be involved in these, but these groups will also recruit people from the broader membership, especially members who have specific expertise and skills to offer.
So we don’t need job shares to share out all the work any more.
The new Council roles are to represent the members
We’ve recommended a Council of 45 members to serve all the different parts of the party, and make sure we’re hearing from everyone. The Council needs to work by consensus-based decision making – that’s a crucial Green Party value we want to see working in practice.
To have true consensus-based decision making, everyone’s voice needs to be heard. And the members of the Council need to be clear that they are representing their region, their group, or the membership as a whole, while working as a coherent group to get to an agreed position.
If we have job sharers on the Council, we think it becomes more difficult for the Council members to hear everyone’s point of view, because there are just too many points of view. And what happens if job sharers disagree amongst themselves? How do they reconcile this?
We think that if you’re asked to represent a group of members, you can only do that yourself, in your own way. You are personally accountable to that group. And that responsibility can’t be shared.
The numbers don’t work
Some people have said already that the Council is too big. We think that 45 is a good number to cover all the different regions, countries, groups plus 10 people who are directly elected to represent the entire membership.
If we have job shares, this could end up with a Council of 90 people. Or 135, as some job shares are split 3 ways at the moment.
That’s definitely too big a group to be able to work.
Some people have said that having 5 places on the Council for Young Greens and 5 places for Councillors is too much. We think that because these are essential groups in the party, they should have a good part of the representation.
What if the Councillors wanted to be naughty? And grab more power on the Council? Or any other group, for that matter. They could decide they want (effectively) 15 places and bring in job shares. This would distort the Council. Not a good idea – we think there should be a balance.
What about the Board?
I’ve mostly talked about the Council here. But these thoughts apply to the Board as well. We’ve recommended that there should be a Board made up of 7 members. This is a small number to keep it manageable and able to work as an effective consensus-based team.
Having job shares on the board would overly complicate this and make it more difficult for them to work together.
And the Political Executive
A quick note on the Political Executive. We struggled with the name for this, so I think some people have seen this as the same as the current GPEx. Where of course, there are lots of job shares at the moment.
The Political Executive is entirely different to our current GPEx, despite the slight similarity in names.
The Political Executive is designed to bring together all the different groups of Green Party elected politicians, so they can align their work, get all the narratives correct and respond to all the exciting politic events as they happen. Think West Wing, not House of Cards J
This needs to be a small group which can get agreement quickly. It needs to be nimble, fast acting, dynamic because politics does move super quick.
Some of the Political Executive might be part of a job share for another role, eg, the Leader of the Party*, Deputy Leader or Leader of the Welsh Green Party. But even then, we’ve recommended that only one of the job share partners is on the Political Executive.
If the Political Executive is to work well, we think job shares would slow things down.
Imagine you’re on the Political Executive, as an elected member representative. One of our MPs (remember we’re setting this up for the future) gets approached by the Labour Party – they want to do a voting deal to get through a bill. They need to agree on a deal by 6pm. Our MP needs agreement fast by the Political Executive on whether to go ahead. If you have to check your position with your job share partner, that’s another level of discussion which slows the whole thing down.
But job shares are important for encouraging women to apply, aren’t they?
That’s true in the world of work, where job shares are one way in which people can fit working along with having a family, or share childcare with their partners. But we don’t see how job shares for these representative roles will help us to encourage more women to be involved.
We think that our other recommendations on Equality and Diversity (see the full reportHRReportWithExecSummaryfinal for these) will make far more difference here. And that sharing out the workload with more members, and not having to stand for election for these roles will encourage many more members of all kinds to get involved in running the party.
*Note, I’m writing this before the results of the 2018 leadership elections, so have no idea if the next leader will be a job share or not.
Julia Chanteray (Co-Chair, on a job share, of the Holistic Review)