HR 101 for Board Members

As a nonprofit board member, you are probably aware of your basic fiduciary and governance responsibilities. But how can you help your nonprofit protect one of its most valuable assets – its people – while protecting the organization and yourself from potential corporate – and personal – liability? Washington Women’s Foundation presented a special 3-part “Human Resources 101” series to help board members and executive directors navigate this topic.

Here are a few best practices shared by series presenter Aviva Kamm that nonprofits and their leaders can take to minimize and manage legal issues:

Best Practices for Board Members

  • Attend board meetings, designated committee meetings and trainings.
  • Review materials in advance of meetings.
  • Ask questions and participate in board discussions.
  • Review meeting minutes and confirm abstentions or dissents are recorded.
  • Study and understand issues; consider information, opinions, reports and statements prepared and presented by appropriate professionals or authorities.
  • Follow the conflict-of-interest policy and disclose conflicts as they arise.
  • Voice dissent (when you feel it) and make sure dissent and rationale is recorded in meeting minutes.
  • Avoid misuse or misappropriation of donor lists or information.
  • Do not abuse privilege of position, e.g. with employees or volunteers.
  • Prioritize payroll; don’t let wages go unpaid on your watch.

Best Practices for Personnel Management
1. Accessibility & Feedback

  • Be available and take the initiative to touch base.
  • Don’t wait for performance evaluations to give people feedback, either negative or
    positive.
  • Create professional boundaries with your reports and avoid giving the impression of
    favoritism.
  • Expect, model and develop a reputation for equal treatment and respect throughout
    your department/organization.

2. Responsiveness

  • Practice reflective listening.
  • Don’t be a black hole: Loop back to employees with resolution or updates of their concerns; even if you do not agree with them or implement their desired changes, the employees won’t feel ignored altogether.

3. Consistency & Fairness

  • Don’t confuse consistency with being equal. You can deviate from past practice, as long as you can articulate the rationale for different treatment.

4. Document your efforts

  • Most effective tool for monitoring performance and demonstrating fairness.
  • Critical if a claim is filed.
  • Poor, biased, or “hit or miss” documentation is worse than none at all.
  • Consistency is critical: Do not document on a selective or disparate basis; do not
    pad a file.


Headshot of Aviva KammAbout the presenter
: Aviva Kamm is a Shareholder at the Seattle law firm Stokes Lawrence, PS. Aviva represents employees and employers facing issues involving discrimination, wrongful termination, wage/hour issues and noncompete and nonsolicitation provisions. She also advises employers on a broad range of day-to-day and strategic human resources issues, including worker classification, FMLA administration, disability accommodation, discipline and I-9 (employment eligibility) compliance.

All information above was developed by Aviva Kamm, Shareholder at Stokes Lawrence, P.S.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

EVENTS

Join Us!

Participate in an educational forum or skill-building workshop. Visit a community nonprofit. Attend an informal gathering or a community celebration of our grantees.

BLOG

Staff Blog Post: What We’re Reading/Listening to/Watching, July 2020

At WA Women’s Foundation, we are dedicated to becoming more...

Uncertainty Leads to Adaptability and Resilience on IAC

Impact Assessment Committee meeting over Zoom We asked Margit Rankin...

Reflecting on the 2020 Pooled Fund Grant Committee

We asked Lorraine del Prado to share a reflection from...

OTHER WAYS TO SUPPORT

If you’re not quite ready to become a member, there are other ways to support the important work we do. Learn more about how you can contribute to WA Women’s Foundation.