IGLTA has evolved incredibly over the past five years. We now have more than 2000 members from more than 85 countries around the world – a clear sign of our growing significance in the global economy! In 2012 alone, we launched the IGLTA Foundation and the new Business to Consumer initiative, two projects that will benefit IGLTA members tremendously.
With this growth also come some challenges. Over the past few years we’ve realized it is more and more difficult to rally a sufficient proportion of our members to vote for the Board of Directors, or to find strong, diverse candidates from different countries willing to stand for board election. And while we have been extremely fortunate to have a great slate of dedicated and hard-working board members who contribute numerous hours to the association each year, we concluded that IGLTA’s expanding reach would be stronger if the board leadership better represents the overall make-up (geography and member type) and needs of IGLTA.
By consensus of our staff and unanimous vote of our current volunteer board leadership, if we are to live up to our longstanding “international” promise and potential, IGLTA’s 21st-century board should reflect the breadth, depth and character of the global travel and hospitality industries.
In an effort to learn how boards of other organizations of our scope and magnitude operate in similar circumstances, IGLTA recently conducted an investigation into how other professional organizations such as ILGA, GLAAD and ASAE established their boards. Following these conversations we realized that IGLTA was the only organization that we knew of that still elected its board members from the general membership, rather than creating an appointed board. Most comparable groups had long ago transitioned to appointed boards for many of the same issues we face today.
To that end, after long discussions and consultations, the IGLTA Board proposes that the organization makes the smooth transition from an elected board to an appointed board. We see this as the best path for the global organization to continue to grow and to best support the diverse needs of our overall membership.
This may appear to be a big change for IGLTA; however, it is really evidence of how far the organization has come over the past 30 years. This transition also will require a change in our bylaws, therefore, we come first to you, our members, with the proposed bylaw changes (ORIGINAL BYLAWS and PROPOSED CHANGES) and invite your comments. After we have heard from you, we will see if any further modifications are needed before presenting this proposed bylaw change to you for an official vote, which will take place in September.
Please read the FAQ below, which we hope will address the questions you may have about this proposal. Recently added questions are in bold.
Why make the change to an appointed board?
- While we have exceptional, enthusiastic board members who donate countless hours to the organization, we still lack relevant diversity on our board from certain regions in the world and from different sectors of the travel industry. We also are sensitive to attracting individuals with greater knowledge of different languages and cultures, or areas of expertise such as finance or law. Through an appointment process, we would be much better positioned to identify and recruit well-qualified individuals who can help fill these gaps and contribute to the success of IGLTA.
- Under current bylaws, our board elections are validated only if 10% of the general membership votes. However, as our membership expands, each year it becomes more and more difficult to get 10% of members to cast their ballot. IGLTA staff, board nominees and board members send steady streams of emails encouraging members to vote, and assist members in the voting process during the conventions. Despite best efforts, we still scramble to reach 10%. In 2012, for example, we achieved this quorum with only two votes to spare. Given this challenge, we believe it is far more useful to dedicate time and energy to recruiting the best qualified IGLTA board members.
- Our experience also tells us that some potentially valuable board members may be frustrated or hindered by an outdated election process that requires an American-centric campaign. Some top candidates may only speak English as a second or third language. Some may bring to IGLTA strong talents, connections and industry knowledge, but are simply not well known to the general membership. We’ve heard many complaints from IGLTA members about the current “popularity contest” format of the board elections. The current board voted unanimously for these proposed changes.
- IGLTA is one of the only international bodies of its kind with a broad range of member types and country origins to persist with an elected board of directors. Other comparable boards appoint their members for the reasons we have identified above, and as a smart way to help establish a more professional organization.
You said that in your research, other organizations also use an appointed board. What other boards did you review when considering the proposed changes?
- We examined business organizations worldwide, many of which are not LGBT but follow a similar professional model to IGLTA. They included:
- CLIA – Cruise Lines International Association
- ASAE - American Society of Association ExecutivesDestination Marketing Association International
- Travel Gay Canada
- L’Austre Cercle (French Gay Professionals Association)
- NGLCC – National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
- ETOA – European Tour Operators Association
- GLAAD - Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
- International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions
- ALTA – Latin American & Caribbean Air Transport Association
- ILGA - International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
- ICCA – International Congress & Convention Association
- PAII – Professional Association of Innkeepers International
How will voting on the proposed changes work?
- Voting will be open from 19 Sept-19 October 2012. An independent third-party company tabulates the votes and gives us the results to ensure it is a fair and unbiased count. Members will receive an email with a secure link to vote from firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be asked to create a unique password; this is NOT the password used for your www.iglta.org log in. If you encounter difficulties or do not receive your link, please email email@example.com. For more information on voting security, please visit www.ballotboxonline.com.
Why this timeline?
- If the members accept this amendment, it will allow the new board to be appinted in 2013. Per our bylaws, there are a number of steps that we must take into consideration with this proposed amendment. If we were to open the voting process after 19 September, an appointed board could not be put into place before 2014. The four board members elected by the membership in 2012 will still serve out their two-year terms.
Will the board still be filled primarily with North Americans?
- No. On the contrary, by appointing board members, we can and should achieve a better representation of the overall global membership on the board. Our membership includes businesses in more than 80 countries and we want our board to better reflect this diversity.
Why not hold regional elections?
- Regional representation is only one of the diversity issues that the proposed changes address. When considering appointments, the board will look at the wide range of businesses types represented within the association, gender, and the skill sets needed to better run the association along with the geographic location of the candidates. IGLTA is committed to global representation and also maintains a program of volunteer ambassadors in more than 20 countries/regions. If you reside in a country that does not currently have representation (see www.iglta.org/global-ambassadors/) and would like to volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instead of appointing a board, why not implement board election quotas for regions, member types or gender?
- We want our bylaws to provide for the greatest board diversity without hindering the natural evolution of the association. The number of members from a particular geographic region or business type changes from year to year. For example, 10 years from now the membership makeup might warrant multiple board members from Asia, whereas today the majority of our members fall in North America, Europe and Latin America. A ratio policy could also potentially hinder our ability to have the best possible board, i.e. if we mandate that a member has to come from a specific region and no one qualified from that region is interested in volunteering to serve on the board.
How will these board members be appointed?
- Here is the model we propose: A board selection committee, made up of current board members, general IGLTA members and the IGLTA president, will help identify potential nominees. • At the same time, the general membership will be informed that the committee is looking for prospective board members and encouraged to apply. • Once the committee has chosen the prospective board members, they will present them to the current IGLTA board, which will then vote to either accept or reject the candidates. (Any board members seeking re-appointment will not participate in this vote.)
How long will these board members serve?
- We will continue to use the same terms in place today: No board member may serve more than three consecutive two-year terms, and no more than three years in any executive position. Appointments will also provide more stability for the organization’s growth and continuity: If a particular skill set or experience is needed for more than a two-year period, IGLTA’s leadership need not worry that an election cycle will disrupt IGLTA projects already underway.
Why are you adding IGLTA’s President/CEO to the board?
- This is standard procedure with associations. It provides consistency within a rotating volunteer board. The position is ex-officio, which prevents this person from voting.
Will this increase the president's influence over the board composition?
- No it will not, because the president represents a single voice within a nominating committee made up of non-board members and sitting board members who are not seeking re-appointment. The acting board must then vote to accept or not accept the proposed candidates, and as previously stated, the president will not have voting ability. The president's role, as with other trade associations, is solely to provide input as he/she has the most intimate knowledge of the organization, its members and its daily/future needs.
How will my voice be heard if these changes are approved?
- The board has a paramount responsibility to our membership, as always. Members will be able to challenge any board action with a petition signed by 5% of the general membership. In this case, the issue will be brought to election by the general membership; a simple 50% +1 majority of the votes collected will determine the result. As the bylaws stand right now, a petition needs to be signed by 20% of members to challenge a board action, so in reality, this will make it easier for the voice of general members to be heard.
Any general member in good standing who meets the nominating criteria can apply for a board position.
To enhance the dialogue with our members, IGLTA will implement an annual membership survey later this year to gather feedback about the association and our direction.
If you have any further questions or comments about our proposal to strengthen IGLTA’s Board of Directors, please send to email@example.com.
Thank you for your support.