This year, I’ll be standing down from the ERS Council – and it’s been one of the more rewarding, challenging, interesting and sometimes downright fun experiences I’ve had in the past few years.
After 6 years serving as a Council member, four of those as Chair, I wanted to share some of my reflections and try to answer some common questions for anyone thinking about joining.
Some practical things first. We want everyone and anyone to be able to join the Council – diversity of all kinds is an important part of a good board but it’s also at the heart of what the ERS is all about.
We also know not everyone can come to London four times a year – you might have other calls on your time as a carer or any one of the many other challenges that can make taking on voluntary roles like this difficult.
That’s why the Society covers expenses and things like that, it’s why we are flexible about how and where meetings take place – I’ve dialled or Skyped in to some meetings from places as far away as Kampala or Seoul! Making sure there are as few practical barriers to participation as possible is really important to the Society so if you have any questions about that, you can also get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
But those aren’t the reasons I joined the Council. In 2011, we were facing some pretty challenging times – a bitter defeat in the AV referendum and a sense that electoral reform was off the agenda for years. I knew I wanted to be part of the fight to change that and, as part of the Council, I think we helped to change that narrative and make sure that electoral reform and the ERS were in the middle of the big political debates and moments.
Reflecting on my time on Council, three things stand out to me as important parts of my experience and good reasons to consider joining.
- It’s a great way to contribute to an important cause: making our democracy work better and for everyone.
That’s work that is desperately needed – now perhaps more than ever. As part of the Council, our job is to help shape the strategic direction of the Society so it is best positioned and able to deliver the change we’re committed to creating. In these quite interesting times, that’s a pretty challenging but rewarding job.
- You get to work with great people
The Society has an amazing team in England, Wales, Scotland and a more nascent one in Northern Ireland. One of the real benefits and pleasures for me in this role was getting to work with, help to shape and learn from a pretty awesome team.
- You can learn a lot
There’s no question my time on the Council was also good for my own personal development. I developed better leadership skills, learnt more about issues to do with our democracy, and I understand some legal and financial stuff better than I did before. Above all, I learnt from the fantastic and varied experiences and knowledge of my fellow Council members.
Finally, and maybe this makes me a bit of a geek, but the governance parts are also really interesting and they are vital to the effective running of the Society. Scrutiny, governance, financial oversight –these may not sound like the most exciting parts, but they are excellent skills to have that will also have applications and uses in other parts of your life.
The six years I spent out the ERS Council have been amazing – I’ll be sad to leave but equally excited to see new people coming in. I will be missing the important work and the rewarding day-to-day variety of being part of the Council, but I know I will take the relationships, friendships and fun times with me.
If you’d like to talk about any of this or you have any questions at all about being on the Council, we’d be really happy to talk to you. Make the jump. Trust me – it’s so worth it.
Find out how to stand for Council