Democratic Struggles at a Major Co-operative

business_ethics_highlights_2Mountain Equipment Co-op is a major Canadian retailer of outdoor clothing, camping gear, yoga pants, etc. As the name implies, it is a co-operative, owned by its customers — a standard example of a successful corporate form that doesn’t include shareholders in the traditional sense. The story below is about moves to limit who can run for MEC’s Board, in an attempt to focus on high-end business skills, rather than on a more democratic approach that many see as more consistent with the organization’s original mission. >>>

LINK: MEC governance changes spark dissent among long-time loyalists (by Sean Silcoff AND Marina Strauss for Globe & Mail)

When Steven Jones tried to run for a spot on the board of Mountain Equipment Co-operative last year, he didn’t get very far.

On paper, Mr. Jones seemed like an ideal candidate for the Vancouver-based retailer, which is one of Canada’s best-known co-ops, with more than four million members. He is a Vancouver-based software executive and a loyal MEC member, having spent $23,000 at the chain since 2009.

But Mr. Jones, 32, was disqualified from running by the board of directors’ nominations committee. He was told he did not meet the minimum criteria, which included having senior management or board experience “in a complex organization.”

He is one of nine candidates rejected for that reason in the past two years, something several members say is a reflection of how MEC is losing its way…..

What do you think?


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