I’ve mentioned a couple of times the Co-operative Group’s current member survey Have Your Say. I now want to draw your attention to another – unofficial – online discussion forum and questionnaire which has just been launched to encourage debate on the way forward for the Group.
The Manchester Area Committee of the Group (area committees are the lowest tier in the Group’s current complex structure) deserve congratulations for establishing Co-operative Springboard (http://springboard.coop). As they say, they’ve done this as their response to the Group’s current corporate governance review being conducted by Lord Myners. I think they’re right to see the review potentially as an opportunity to strengthen, rather than diminish, good cooperative governance structures within the Group – though this outcome is by no means guaranteed, and there are strong contrary pressures which would move the Group further away from its democratic roots.
The Manchester Area Committee stress that the Group’s membership structure is potentially a real advantage which competitors would be delighted to have: “We are missing an opportunity to show how different we are… We must open up. We need to make membership meaningful for the many who don’t take part in elections and meetings,” they say.
Myners is operating on a very short timeframe, so it is important that as much debate as possible about the future governance of one of the world’s largest cooperative businesses takes place now.