By Jayme Gramlich, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Agricultural organizations in Saskatchewan are often headed by a board of directors, who work to advance their sectors in leadership roles. Whether the organization invests in research, provides policy advice, delivers services or conducts a combination of these activities – it is important work. The agriculture sector is an essential driver of the provincial economy and the talent, passion and strong leadership that both staff and directors of these organizations provide translates into a productive industry. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture recognizes the value of this work and wanted to provide access to the tools required to govern effectively through recent board governance training for industry organizations in the province.
Effective board governance leads to credibility, legitimacy, trust, results that matter and healthy organizations able to function well for the betterment of their sectors. With that in mind, Ministry staff worked with the Institute on Governance (IOG) to develop a customized training program covering the fundamental principles and practices of effective board governance. The IOG is an independent, not-for-profit public interest institution. Their mission is advancing better governance in the public interest by exploring, developing and promoting the principles, standards and practices which underlie good governance in the public sphere. Laura Edgar leads the IOG’s work on board and organizational governance and she collaborated with the Ministry to create the tailored program and delivered it in Saskatchewan.
This training program was offered on multiple occasions to reach as many board members as possible. The participation at each session was as diverse as the industry itself, with organizations ranging from producer groups, to pasture transfer committees, watershed stewardship groups, irrigation boards, and many others. It was encouraging to see such interest in this professional and organizational development opportunity from leaders across the industry. In total 290 people took advantage of the training sessions offered in December, January and February in both Saskatoon and Regina. Participants in the training program received take-home materials to help continue the conversation on good governance at the boardroom table.
Here are just a few of the ideas discussed during the training program:
- Create or review your key governance policies
- Terms of reference for the board
- Terms of reference for individual directors
- Code of conduct and conflict of interest policies
- Understand and meet your legal requirements
- Understand key funding agreements and/or contracts and what they mean for the work of the board
- Everyone on the board must understand their collective roles and responsibilities. It is important to have the conversation, once agreed, ideally put it in writing
- Make sure lines of communication are understood and respected.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Ministry’s Industry Board Governance training! Stay tuned for more professional development opportunities in the future.