Shifting power in CBM Global – our governance journey

Blog | September 22, 2022

CBM Global is committed to shifting power at all levels of our work, decision making, and governance. We are documenting the significant changes we are making on this power shift journey and sharing these through a series of blogs. In this blog we reflect on the changes achieved in our governance model.

“I believe the recent changes made in the CBM Global governance not only reflect the organisational commitment to promote disability inclusion but it is a clear step to demonstrate that we, persons with disabilities, can actively engage in the highest decision making spaces. I am more motivated to ensure our views and demands continue being included within all CBM Global actions, both globally and nationally.”                                                                                                                   

Jose Viera, Independent Board Member 

Why is shifting power so important?

For CBM Global authentic partnership with the Disability Movement underpins all we do. We’re deeply committed to working alongside people with disabilities and their representative organisations, and to the principle of “nothing about us without us”. We seek to rebalance power, recognising that building an inclusive world requires us to address deep-rooted inequality and injustice. This includes promoting inclusion and addressing power imbalances internally within CBM Global, in keeping with our values.  

A governance structure to match our commitment

Our foundational commitment to righting power imbalance has taken us on a journey since 2019 pursuing major governance changes, along with other steps to shift power and decision making across the Federation (more on this in other blogs). The CBM Global Federation was formed in 2020 and its founding Members wanted to ensure a governance model was in place that would strengthen the decision making power of people with disabilities and voices from the Global South on our board.

Previously, the CBM Board consisted entirely of representatives appointed by Members of the Federation, typically countries from the ‘Global North’. In today’s governance model, and in accordance with our Association’s new By-laws, CBM Global’s Board reserves three spaces for independent board members. They sit alongside the members appointed from six current Members of the Federation. Board Members are appointed for a term of three years, renewable for one term. Having a six year tenure limit balances continuity and experience with a healthy turnover of voices and expertise.

“Having served over forty years in Christian ministry, one of the greatest privileges has been my governance role in CBM Global. The recent inclusion of three new highly skilled, independent trustees shows that CBM Global is a disability inclusive INGO that fully embraces the ‘nothing-about-us-without-us’ value.”    

Ray Coster, Board Member                            

The search for independent board members

The Board wanted to ensure good governance and to attract a specific combination of skills needed to fulfil CBM Global’s mission. A skills audit highlighted a range of areas that were well covered by existing board members including legal, finance, human resources, technology and strategy. The audit also identified gaps which were most pronounced in the areas of disability inclusion, advocacy and programming. This analysis then helped to inform the search for our independent board members.

We set out to appoint independent board members who, as well as having relevant governance experience, would bring Global South perspectives and lived experience of disability, with a background in community-led approaches to disability inclusive development and/or humanitarian action, advocacy engagement or delivering disability inclusion advice.

“By becoming an independent board member of this organisation, I see that I have the opportunity to contribute to the creation, protection, and dissemination of the values of the CBM Global organisation, as well as to represent the ideology of people with disabilities and Organisations of Persons with Disabilities.”

Dulamsuren Jigjd, Independent Board Member

Some independent board members were individuals already known to CBM Global whom we proactively approached. Others responded through the recruitment channels used, which included social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn), the CBM Global website and dissemination via our global and regional OPD partners. We placed particular emphasis on providing reasonable adjustments for individuals with disabilities at all stages in the process, through recruitment, selection and induction.  

“Having independent non executive directors on any Board brings fresh insight and varied experience to bear in fulfilling the organisation’s mission, vision and core values without any prejudice. We are charged with a huge responsibility of providing useful guidance and ideas gleaned from wider experience working in the disability space. What a joy to be part of this great team!”                                                                                                                     

Delphine Misan-Arenyeka, Independent Board Member

Reaping the benefits of a diverse board membership

Today CBM Global is hugely enriched by the contributions of our independent board members.

“I feel very privileged to chair such a talented and diverse group as the CBM Global Board. In addition to the range of professional backgrounds among the six directors nominated by our Members, it has been great to welcome our three independent board members. We now hear a wide range of voices from people who are all leaders in the field of disability and bring a further dimension to our work as a Board.”                                    

Edwin Godfrey, Board Chair

In Board discussions and decisions there is a notable increased emphasis on prioritising the voices of persons with disabilities and the perspectives of the countries where CBM Global works. We have achieved a heightened awareness of accessibility and are meeting our commitment to ensuring accessible board meetings, with board papers fully accessible and sign language interpretation always provided.

“I have observed tangible changes in the dynamics on our Board since the appointment of our independent board members. We have been on a steep learning curve and we are a better organisation as a result.”

David Bainbridge, Executive Director 

Get to know CBM Global Board Members 

Main image: Six of the nine Board Members of CBM Global. Standing from left to right: Mark Finan (Board Member), Dulamsuren Jigjid (Independent Board Member), Edwin Godfrey (Chair of the Board), Ray Coster (Board Member), Delphine Misan-Arenyeka (Independent Board Member) and Ivy Kihara (Board Member). Not in the photo are Jose Viera (Independent Board Member), Mick Turnbull (Board Member) and Susanne Brandl (Board Member).

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