Is Tim Connell being treated fairly and respectfully as a new Demand Class Director on the auDA Board? Or do some of his fellow Directors (and the CEO) view him as an irritant that they have to put up with? Do they perhaps think that he is inferior to them because he doesn’t have a University education? Or because he represents pesky domain investors? I’m not holding my breath for an answer.
This article has been cogitating for a few weeks now. And it was brought to a head when I was accused (a couple of days ago) by an auDA Director of “cyber bullying” female Directors on the Board. That statement was not only ridiculous, but it was offensive in the extreme. I did ask him to explain how I had done that, but no answer has been forthcoming.
So let me turn the spotlight back on the auDA Board – and particularly the Chair, Stuart Benjamin.
I need to say the following upfront:
♦ Tim is a friend of mine, but he does not know that I am writing this article.
♦ Tim has never disclosed any confidential auDA Board information to me; nor have I asked him to. I would sign a Statutory Declaration to that effect.
♦ As a friend and supporter of his, I have asked him in general terms how he finds the role as a newly minted Director. I could write a few paragraphs about this, but suffice to say, he’s no longer the ebullient and positive Tim that most of us have come to know. It seems obvious to me and others that he is being treated as an absolute outsider on the Board. It also appears that he has been stymied from interacting with the people that elected him.
♦ Another Director of auDA recently told me that “Tim is wet behind the ears; and is struggling”. That sort of comment indicates to me there is indeed a lack of tolerance for a newly elected Director.
Let’s Start At The Beginning
Two Demand Class candidates supported by a variety of their “constituents” (including domain investors) stood for election at the auDA AGM in November. They were Tim Connell; and Shane Moore. Tim was successful in getting elected, and unfortunately, Shane just missed out. Many people have since speculated that Shane would have indeed been successful had there been more stringent auditing of Demand Class memberships. But it is what it is.
Tim and Shane were attractive candidates to a lot of Demand Class members, because, amongst other things, they stood for better transparency and communication from the auDA Board and Management.
This was always going to be an uphill battle, particularly if you listen to this audio excerpt from the AGM. This is the Chair, Stuart Benjamin, answering a question in relation to candidate statements. In it he says:
“A number of candidates have made some rather large statements which are against the Corporations Act; or potentially against the interests of the organisation …”
What Is The Role Of A Director?
Obviously there are many responsibilities and obligations. But let’s just look at one – because this pertains to the subject matter of this article.
Here’s a brief excerpt from The Australian Institute of Company Directors “Director’s Signpost – Your Guide To Directorship”.
Starting at the bottom of Page 25, it says:
The courage to ask critical and searching questions
Directors must be prepared to challenge both management and their fellow board
members. This can be difficult, particularly when they disagree with the prevailing
opinion, or the opinion held by particularly strong or dominating members of
Good directors will listen to other opinions with an open mind and be assertive
but not aggressive in putting forward their own point of view. They will also be
able to differentiate between challenging an idea and attacking an individual.
“A new or aspiring director’s great asset is a fresh pair of eyes – and there’s no such
thing as a dumb question.” Dr Stephen Judd GAICD
Having said this, I also accept this premise on Page 26:
Respect for fellow directors
A decision by directors is taken collectively, whether determined consensually or
by majority. It binds all directors.
A strong and stable professional relationship with other directors is built on
I call on the Chair to ensure that:
♦ Tim is afforded the opportunity to express and debate his opinions (and those of his “constituents”) in a proper and respectful manner at Board and Committee level.
♦ All elected Directors (Supply and Demand) should be allowed to communicate in general terms with their constituent base about what’s going on at auDA. Particularly given that auDA is a membership organisation. (Members of Parliament are allowed to do this once a Cabinet decision has been made. As are Local Government Councillors).
And please take note auDA – it’s only a matter of time before more of us “pesky domain investors” join your exalted ranks. 😉
Ned O’Meara – 10th May 2017