Saturday, 29 October 2016
Not So Confidential
If the purpose of holding a ‘secret meeting’ was to ensure it remained ‘secret’, it certainly seems to have been a spectacular failure.
Meetings were held for those expressing interest in becoming directors for either Yeshivah Beth Rivkah Schools Ltd (YBRSL) or Chabad Institutions of Victoria Ltd (CIVL) on Thursday 28 October, but perhaps they didn’t go quite as planned.
Sources who attended either meeting reported receiving correspondence advising that they would be required to sign Confidentiality Agreements and that their Expression of Interest would remain confidential. At the meetings, considerable emphasis was placed on the respect required for the anonymity of all present. This was of course thoughtful of those planning, but perhaps not sufficiently so. It was widely known where and when the meetings were held, a room where all passers-by could observe through the glass windows who was present. It was also noted that as the meeting for those interested in YBRSL was held immediately prior to the CIVL meeting, anyone at either meeting could note who had ‘expressed interest’ to serve on the alternate Board.
As requirements of anonymity had only applied to those present in their own meeting – individuals are free to discuss those they may be aware are standing for an alternate Board, should they wish to do so. Perhaps a little less fuss directed at prospective directors and a little more attentiveness to the task at hand on the part of Yeshivah Body Corporate would have been beneficial.
Then of course there was the matter of the Confidentiality Agreement that attendees were requested to sign. While I’ve been banging on about my own distaste for unnecessary surreptitiousness painted as appropriate confidentiality, (see OPEN THE DOORS from 25 October), several of the attendees have indicated that they had no issue signing because the Agreement seemed to have been designed with little care. It has been suggested to me several times that the document would have little value as it didn’t appear to be an agreement between any two specific parties.
There was considerable fuss (universal from those I’ve spoken to) as to how one can present an information meeting for Directors with no-one presenting on the subject of Governance. People from the YBRSL meeting had much to say regarding the lack of planning and regard for their own time as they didn’t receive adequate (any??) information about the process, role, requirements and commitments of being a Director.
Perhaps the hottest issue that flew out of the meeting from all of the people who contacted me was the question as to why Mrs Nechama Bendet attended the meetings. This seems to be a source of great controversy and apparently a number of individuals were not too happy to see her there. Several reported her presence as inhibiting discussion. The word of her attendance has certainly spread well beyond those who were in the room. Some have suggested she may have an interest in serving as a Director for one or both organisations.
When the Trustees committed to stand down from the previous Yeshivah legal entities, as many understood, it was a given that a commitment was made to the community that they would stand back from any leadership/governance space in the future.
Past Trustee, Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner has now undertaken a probable life-tenure on the Boards of all organisations.
Perhaps Mrs Bendet is considering whether she may be approaching the end of her employment at Yeshivah and as a Trustee she too would also like to move up to a seat on one of the Boards? Of course, to do so, Mrs Bendet would be required to step away from employment with the organisation, in line with constitutional requirements.
We await with interest to see all those listed on the election candidacy lists.