Thank you, Luis, for the good suggestions.

On May 5, 2016 08:49, "Luis Villa" <> wrote:

> tl;dr: the board did not effectively perform one of their most important
> roles (managing the ED); the board (and board candidates) should be talking
> about how they will fix that.
> [Also, see the very bottom for some relevant disclosures, since I've been
> asked after previous postings to this list.]
> On Tue, May 3, 2016 at 6:02 PM MZMcBride <> wrote:
> > Tim Starling wrote:
> > >Board members have a duty to act in the interests of the WMF as a
> > >whole, but it does not follow that denying anonymity to whistleblowers
> > >is in the best interests of the WMF. In fact, I think this Lila/KF/KE
> > >case demonstrates the opposite.
> > >
> > >I would encourage the Board to extend the current whistleblower policy
> > >to provide protection to employees making anonymous complaints via
> > >certain intermediaries (such as active Board members), rather than
> > >requiring complaints to be made directly to the Chair of the Board;
> > >and to specify that the forwarding of such anonymous reports by Board
> > >members to the Chair would be permissible.
> > >
> > >If we want to avoid a repeat of this affair, then employees should be
> > >encouraged to communicate serious concerns to the Board as early as
> > >possible.
> >
> >
> >
> > You mention anonymous complaints and serious concerns, but the current
> > whistleblower policy seems to be pretty clear that it only applies to
> > laws, rules, and regulations. The text of the policy indicates, to me at
> > least, that even alleged violations of other Wikimedia Foundation
> policies
> > would not be covered by the whistleblower policy. Would you extend the
> > Wikimedia Foundation whistleblower policy to cover regular (i.e.,
> > non-legal and non-regulatory) grievances?
> >
> > My understanding is that the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
> sought
> > out and then appointed a tech-minded chief executive, who came from a
> tech
> > organization, in order to "transform" the Wikimedia Foundation from an
> > educational non-profit to be more like a traditional tech company. Many
> > employees of the Wikimedia Foundation disagreed with this decision and
> the
> > chief executive made a series of poor hires who ran amok (looking at you,
> > Damon), but I don't think anything rose to the level of illegal behavior.
> >
> > From my perspective, whether rightfully or wrongfully, the staff mutinied
> > and ultimately successfully deposed the appointed executive director. I
> > don't see how this whistleblower policy or most variations of it that a
> > typical non-profit would enact would really be applicable here.
> >
> As MZ says, the problem here is not the whistleblower policy. There should
> be other policies and processes to monitor and address non-legal
> performance problems with the ED/CEO. Creating and executing on these
> policies and processes is one of the key responsibilities of a non-profit
> board.
> Unfortunately, those policies and processes were not working during my last
> six months at the Foundation.
> Some things that the board should do to change this situation:
>    - *Make the board HR committee effective.* This would involve at least:
>    - Simply documenting *who is on the HR committee and how to contact
> them*.
>       Last fall, there was no way for staff to even know who was on the HR
>       committee until my repeated questions to *four separate board
> members*
>       led to this edit
>       <
> >.
>       As of when I left, there was still no way to confidentially email the
>       entire committee as a group.
>       - Using of one of the board's appointed slots to appoint an *HR
>       expert*, as has been done in the past with finance. (I assume Arnon
>       was an attempt at this. If so, I'm very sorry it did not work out.)
>       - Improving *policies* *on staff-board contact*. The whistleblower
>       policy is not the right place for this, but it was all the staff
> had. And
>       for board members, the Handbook
>       <
> >
>       is unfortunately not clear on how to address HR issues. Better
> policies,
>       explaining roles and responsibilities, might have helped both groups.
>    - *Monitor organizational health*. This would involve at least:
>    - Conducting a *regular engagement survey* with (ideally) a trusted
>       neutral reporting results to the board as well as the executive
> team. This
>       is now in place through HR, but was not done until monitoring of
> office
>       attendance indicated that people hated coming to the office, and
> tends to
>       break down in an executive crisis (since HR may not be trusted).
>       - *Exit interviews* with all departing executive staff. To the best
>       of my knowledge, the current board did not do this, even after 9-10
>       executives departed in the space of a year. This is good
> practice even when
>       the board has endorsed a "cleaning house" of the executive staff (as
> may
>       have occurred here), since those staff are still likely able to
> provide
>       insight into the performance of the ED that the board may not be
> able to
>       glean themselves.
> There are, of course, many other things a board can do to help with these
> issues (leading on creation of a clear strategy; putting a staff rep on the
> HR committee; regular contact with staff and executives; etc., etc.) But
> these are the utter, utter basics that are still, to the best of my
> knowledge, unresolved.
> Besides the points above, I'd like to see:
>    - When I asked board candidates
>    <
> >
>    what they thought the top responsibilities of the board were, I was
> hoping
>    to see at least one person say "HR". Obviously many votes have been
> cast,
>    but I'd still like to hear the candidates speak about how they will
>    effectively fulfill their HR-related responsibilities ("select, evaluate
>    and (if necessary) remove the Executive Director
>    <
> >
>    ").
>    - The HR committee is supposed to do a yearly self-assessment
>    <
> >.
>    I think the current HR committee and the board should publish that
>    self-assessment, and share (*as part of the hiring plan*) how they plan
> to
>    monitor *and support *the next ED's performance.
> Slightly more than two cents-
> Luis
> [Disclosures:
>    - After I left, I did not sign a termination or contracting agreement
>    with the organization, so I did not become a contractor with the
>    organization. I do still speak to many friends within the org, but have
> not
>    discussed this email with them.
>    - I was one of the people who spoke to James (as well as other board
>    members) about Lila last fall. I appreciate his efforts on behalf of the
>    staff, as well as his efforts to protect our confidentiality.
>    - My baby was due yesterday, so I probably won't check the list again
>    for quite a while. :) Still, hope this is helpful to highlight some
>    specific actions the board could be taking.]
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> New messages to:
> Unsubscribe:,
> <>
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Reply via email to