As we begin a new year, we’re excited to also share a new chapter in FAIR SHARE’s journey.
Nearly five years into our existence, we are at a point where we would like to take a deeper look at our governance structures and see how we can bring our feminist principles such as collaboration, accountability and critical power perspectives even more into these structures. A key first step was the implementation of a co-leadership model, which you can read about here.
As FAIR SHARE is registered in Germany as a charitable, tax-exempt organisation (“Verein”), we received support from a feminist lawyer to figure out what opportunities this legal framework offered us to align more with our understanding of Feminist Leadership. Now, we have taken the next step towards building this feminist governance ecosystem with two significant changes.
The first change is that our co-Executive Directors Lisa Tatu Hey and Helene Wolf now form the Executive Board. Previously, we had a mixed set-up: the Executive Director(s) were part of the Board together with two voluntary, non-paid Board members This model served us well during our start-up phase, allowing for lean and quick decision-making structures but the mix of operative and non-operative Board members felt increasingly stretched as the organisation grew. This more traditional, hierarchical power dynamic that is still the reality in many non-profit organisations felt out of line with our pursuit of Feminist Leadership. Appointing a paid Executive Board is therefore an important part of our approach to transparently distribute the operative, management decision making power to our current two Co-Executive Directors.
Secondly, we newly created the Advisory Council of five to seven members to advise and hold to account the two Co-Executive Directors. The members of this body are serving four-year terms on a voluntary basis, meet 2-4 times/year to work more closely on strategic issues for FAIR SHARE. Based on these two formal changes in our statutes, the main difference we hope to explore in this new formal set-up is HOW we operate based on feminist values and principles. What would collective decision-making, power-critical accountability or concepts of collective care look and feel like within governance structures?
Thirdly, we have renewed, diversified and expanded our membership. As an organisation with legal status in Germany, it is required to have voting members who elect the advisory council, decide on annual accounts and approve any changes to statutes. When FAIR SHARE was founded, we invited those closest to that process at the time to become members. These were mostly allies and peers in Germany, where we were founded, and therefore not reflective of the international scope of our work nor the diversity of perspectives and positionalities in our network now. Due to limited capacity at the time, we also treated membership as formality rather than an opportunity to foster a community of critical friends who shared our vision and felt actively invested in our work.
In September 2023, together with our Board, we therefore began the process of changing our governance structure and inviting new members into the fold. Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to our new Voting Members – as well as the Advisory Council they elected in our first members meeting in 2023, who will advise the Co-Executive Directors and hold them accountable in their task of managing the daily and long-term operations.
As we continue to explore what Feminist Governance means at FAIR SHARE, we will continue to share our reflections and learnings – and welcome any resources, experiences or questions you want to share on the topic. If you want to dig deeper into our statutes, you can find them here. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org!