Gary Sharp, a member of the IPSE Board of Directors, gives an insight into the way IPSE is run by its members and talks of the upcoming elections – an opportunity for you too to have a more active voice.
It will soon be time, once again, for the annual elections to IPSE’s Consultative Council. The Consultative Council, or CC as we often call it, is the pool of member representatives that the Board of Directors go to in order to discuss and consult on matters that affect the membership directly.
The CC sits between the members and the Board of Directors in the governance of IPSE, and is made up entirely of IPSE members. The Board of Directors is made up of appointed advisers (Independent Non-Executive Directors) and the CEO, but the majority are elected IPSE members.
I asked two recent CC members about their reasons for joining. Matt Searle was a vocal member of the Contractor UK community, sometimes positive but occasionally critical of IPSE. He was contacted by a couple of people, including myself, and reminded that, as an IPSE member, the best way to influence the organisation was from the inside. As Matt himself says: “I was encouraged to stand by members of the Board, other CC members, other members and even non-members. I’ve been an IPSE member since I first became aware of the association, about four months into my first contract, and I’d always been happy to vote in the CC elections and leave my involvement at that.
“When IPSE broadened the strategy to approach more markets, I decided I wanted to get involved, rather than looking from the outside and then not being happy if something happened that I didn’t like. So I decided that I needed to put myself forward to the CC so my voice and opinion could be heard and I could help drive IPSE forward.”
Rebecca Shipham first became involved with IPSE when she won our Freelancer of the Year Award. She was invited to get more involved in the organisation, and joined the CC. Her reason for being on the CC?
“I think I bring an alternative viewpoint on the world of self-employment. I am not a contractor but the same issues can affect me as a self-employed individual. It’s good to have a mix of people from different self-employment backgrounds in the CC to get a broad view.”
Both Rebecca and Matt are of the opinion that the CC is essential to allow the Board of Directors to have access to the range of views and issues that affect freelancers in general, and contractors in particular. These views allow the Board to prioritise and plan to ensure that our preferred way of working is protected and supported to the best of IPSE’s ability.
Matt was such a passionately outspoken member of the contracting community that he stood for the Board almost immediately after joining the CC, successfully. He is proof that IPSE is run by those who have a passion for freelancing, and that the best way to influence the workings of the organisation is to get involved.
Membership of the CC is not just a one-way street – as Rebecca points out, she now has a better understanding of issues that affect other freelancers, not just her. She also sees the work that IPSE does on her and others’ behalf, and can be sure that the organisation is meeting its aims of protecting and assisting those of us who choose to work on our own.
Both are of the opinion that the CC is an important part of IPSE’s governance structure. Matt explains: “The CC is vital to the way that we work, because it provides a link between members and the Board that ensures that we take IPSE in the direction that our members want us to take. Having a strong, engaged, vocal CC is incredibly important to the way that IPSE works – they are the members who are consulted most closely to gauge opinion, they are the members who bring new ideas for the Board and staff to consider, they are the members who choose the directors. As representative members, they are the key to our democratic processes.”
Rebecca supports this point of view: “The CC is important to get a personal view on the issues that affect the self-employed so that IPSE can understand fully what matters, and why. The CC bring new ideas to the table, and also give a personal link between the Board of Directors and the members. It’s also important to give a democratic vote on the way IPSE is organised.”
And finally, I asked both what they would say to anyone considering standing for the CC. Rebecca replied: “Being part of IPSE and helping build an even better organisation is a great opportunity for anyone self-employed. Being part of the CC is a commitment, but it is well worth it.” Matt agrees: “Do it. The next few years are going to be exciting and challenging for us all, so join the CC and help IPSE become even better as we confront them.”
The CC election process will be taking place in May 2016, and you’ll start seeing communications on the subject from IPSE very soon. I encourage anyone with an interest in IPSE specifically, or freelancing in general, to get involved.
Article by Gary Sharp