Establishing our 100% member-led community benefit society began with some important decisions.
One was the unanimous agreement to organise our club based on values including solidarity and cooperation and the other was to adopt an equalities policy, which every member signs up to when they join, that commits us to ensure everyone is treated fairly and with respect.
We all need to recognise, however, that the ways we behave and interact with each other is influenced by a society that is often selfish, oppressive and discriminatory.
Especially within a club that has decided to abolish the traditional roles and responsibilities of a chairperson, devolve power away from its board and remove hierarchies whenever it can, we cannot assume people will suddenly stop behaving harmfully to and taking power away from each other, even without realising they are doing so.
This means we all have to work hard to nurture and develop meaningful solidarity between ourselves and towards others wherever we are.
We want to make sure everyone is as welcome as possible within the club, so we see holding each other to account a collective responsibility for all members.
This should not mean we have to choose between successfully organising our club and figuring out how we get along.
That is why our Accountability Agreement, which was passed unanimously at the members’ meeting in October 2018, tries to help, by setting out our shared understanding of how all club members will conduct themselves and how we are expected to respond if we are challenged about our actions.
- We accept that each of us is individually responsible for our own actions and we are collectively responsible for supporting those around us.
- We start from a position of believing and supporting people when they share their experiences with us.
- We accept that other people’s lives and histories are invariably different to our own and try to avoid making assumptions about the opinions, background, cultures and identities of others.
- We try not to judge, compete or put each other down. We approach every situation with an open mind.
- We notice and respect each other’s physical boundaries and understand the importance of always checking first before crossing them.
- We are mindful of the space we take up and if we are used to talking, we also need to listen to the wisdom that others bring to our organising and discussions.
- We try to communicate in an open, clear and uncomplicated way. We are aware of how the language we use can shut down other people’s opinions and exclude participation, even when we do not intend to do so.
- Accountability means that each of us is ready, when challenged about how we act and how we speak, to take on board other’s points of view, take responsibility for our actions and make amends in the ways that are asked of us. This accountability is also expected of people and groups working with us.
- If we witness actions or behaviour that is harmful, oppressive or discriminatory, we will challenge it constructively and not leave this to those who are most affected by it or assume others will deal with it.
Read our Accountability Handbook.
What is the remit of the Accountability Committee?
One of the few responsibilities that remain with the Club’s General Organising Committee (formerly ‘The Board’) is resolving disputes. However, the Accountability Committee has a devolved remit to provide an independent and confidential sounding board for other committees who are handling issues about members’ behaviour, before they escalate to the position of a formal complaint.
Ultimately, the emphasis is on everyone to take collective responsibility for holding each other to account. The Accountability Committee will not “police” every aspect of members’ conduct within the club; every member has a responsibility to step up when a problem arises and to share this responsibility.
Our aim is to look at any issues in an objective and timely manner, prioritise the needs of anyone harmed, act in good faith, avoid cynicism, and where appropriate, provide resources for individuals whose behaviour or language has been questioned, in order to educate themselves. It can act to make sure all parties feel an appropriate outcome is reached.
The Accountability Committee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org