Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Vetting of candidates
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A process is needed to ensure that candidates are qualified and capable to be members of the Board of Trustees. This overlaps with the call for types of skills and experience and with the idea of quotas. It also is required as part of the Board’s legal and fiduciary obligations. Because of those obligations, the Board cannot fully delegate this responsibility.
What is the best stage in the trustee selection process for the Board to exercise its responsibility to vet trustee candidates?
Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit
The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.
Feedback about this idea is heavily dependent on the feedback about Call for types of skills and experiences. In this section we cover the comments exclusively related to potential vetting processes.
Vetting of candidates received little feedback compared to other ideas. Although vetting was understood as required, its extent was debated. Many participants say that vetting of community candidates is not a Board task but a community task. In general these participants believe that the vetting should be minimal. Some participants prefer a strong vetting process to ensure that eligible candidates are fit for the Board. Several participants said that a stronger vetting process may introduce cultural bias and reinforce privileges for wealthy people especially in emerging Wikimedia communities.
- Some suggested a stronger vetting process comparable to a job application, reasoning that the role of trustee is a big responsibility.
- A person attending an office hour shared an example of a board assessment and self-assessment form to determine skills possessed and skills needed on non-profit boards. She suggested its use as a way to vet or at least better assess candidates.
- Many people say that the Board should only do legal checks to candidates to confirm them.
- Some say that it is the responsibility of the community to make sure that community candidates are qualified. They say if any additional vetting exists at all, it should be done by volunteers, not by the Board.
- Among people who expressed their belief that the Board should not do a wider vetting of candidates, a few mentioned the case of the appointed trustee Arnnon Geshuri, who stepped down shortly after his announcement in 2016 after a community protest.
- Frequently it was mentioned that any vetting should happen before the election/process starts to all candidates, not at the end to the winning candidates.
- The ED of a European affiliate said that a vetting process might suffer from cultural and language bias, and its design should be considered carefully.
- A former trustee said that potential candidates might be deterred by a vetting process requiring candidates to publish an assessment of their skills or other personal information.
- Another former trustee stated that vetting based on skills might reduce diversity of candidates, creating a system that favors wealthier people, especially in countries where only a minority has access to the types of education required.