The ICE Trustee Board met on Tuesday 24 November and welcomed a number of new trustees. These are Gary Cutts (Trustee for Council relationship and member engagement), Jim Hall (Trustee for carbon and sustainability), Sabih Khisaf (trustee for international membership), Anusha Shah (VP Membership) and Andy Alder (Trustee for Finance). We were also joined by Elliot Webb from GS Net who attended as an observer.
The Board received a presentation from Kate Cairns, the chair of the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Panel. She raised concerns that the Institution may, inadvertently, place unintended barriers in the way of those who would like to stand for election to the Presidency. Kate made clear that her hope was that any member of the institution should be able to become President. Her proposals included plans to offer the role as a job share, to pay a stipend to the President, and to pay caring or childcare costs to support future presidents. She also suggested amendments to the Terms of Reference for the President that make it easier for members in the career building phase to apply.
Trustees debated the issue at length and considered the proposals in detail. They were, and are, very clear that the Institution should not intentionally, or unintentionally, place barriers in the way of suitably qualified candidates. They noted that the Institution already offers support to those with caring responsibilities, and they did not believe the issue of a stipend was insuperable (although they noted the very strict rules applied by the Charity Commission). On balance the trustees were not minded to support the concept of a Presidential job share.
But the paper brought into sharp focus what the trustees believe is required in our President. Above all, trustees believe that the President must have an outstanding record of achievement in civil engineering. Trustees stressed the importance of the president being able to represent our profession on the global stage and to have the experience, intellect and knowledge to act as an ambassador for the profession. Trustees also felt that it was reasonable to expect that the President should have previously contributed to the work of Institution. They felt that the membership would expect our President to have such a track record and that the Institution should select the “best” person for the appointment and then manage any additional support on a case by case basis. This they felt would ensure that the best candidates were attracted to the role.
However, the trustees also recognised that more work needs to be done to bring greater transparency to the application process, to ensure that no candidate feels excluded from applying. The Nomination Committee will discuss this further in its meeting in January.
The Trustee Board approved the Budget for 2021, noting the forecasts for 2020. This has been a challenging year for all organisations and the ICE is no different. The Institution has restructured the staff this year and has made a number of savings because of the various national and international lockdowns. Consequently, the Institution has weathered the pandemic relatively well. But, in setting out the Budget for next year, the Group Finance Director warned that the underpinning financial assumptions could easily come under pressure as public confidence ebbs and flows, economies contract, and markets remain volatile. The Director General noted the importance of managing the budget on an almost day to day basis for the foreseeable future.
In view of this The Director General proposed a full strategic review of the Institution’s financial strategy to be led by Finance Trustee Andy Alder. The Board agreed the Terms of Reference for this review and directed that it receive the interim findings in March 2021.
Graduate voting rights
The subject of graduate voting rights has been widely debated over the last two years. Council hosted a debate last month, and then debated the issue in plenary. It made a number of recommendations to the Trustee Board, all of which were accepted.
Trustees decided that the membership should be balloted on the issue of graduate voting rights in the June 2021 Ballot. They recognised the split in Council as to whether graduates should be able to vote on changes to the By-Laws but believed it was right that graduates should have greater say in their Institution and will recommend a series of changes to the membership. The question as to whether graduates should be able to requisition the Trustee Board for a Special General Meeting will be put separately to the membership in the ballot.
Statement of investment principles
The Trustee Board reviewed our statement of investment principles. Trustees believed that the funds within which we invest should have an ethical, social, governance statement. This will be bolstered by a stated preference that we will support firms that support the UNSDGs.
The Trustee Board will meet again on 23 March 2021.
Read September's Trustee Board update here.