By Nicole Hammer
If you are like most NGBs, you were upset that one of the IQA’s Board of Trustee members, Nicholas Oughtibridge, decided to follow my lead and go rogue from the IQA. It is almost as if things are not going well and trustees are forced to act alone. Weird.
But I’m not angry about Nicholas demanding that NGBs provide their own trustees or even the hypocrisy that we have had larger concentrations of national representation in the past and no one cared until Americans joined the board.
I am angry because while the Board is apparently angry about where its Board members live, it is overlooking a glaring, bigger problem.
The IQA Board has always been and still is overwhelmingly, white, straight, and cis-male.
During one of the Congress meetings — which, unfortunately, since minutes have not been posted in almost a year, I could not find the agenda for this specific meeting — I wrote this response to a series of agenda items that seemed to be directed at me (electing Executive Director to Board, national representation at the Board level, and some alleged breach of confidentiality mixed with an investigation about my love life). This response was what I had written in regards to national representation at the Board level.
Please note that this was prior to the election of two female board members, one who had resigned and one who is still on the Board, though it is uncertain if she is still on the Board because, surprisingly, there has not been Board minutes published in over six months.
After my resignation, Christina Verdirame is presumingly the only female Board member left if the IQA website is accurate.
Below was my initial response that I drafted regarding to the concern of national representation at the Board level:
National Representation at the Board Level is not feasible at this time in our sport’s development. While our sport is developing at a rapid rate, it should be noted that the opportunity was presented for all players, regardless of national origin, to apply for the Board. However, three Americans and a Australian board member happened to be the ones elected to the Board and happened to be the ones who applied.
It also should be noted that in prior years, there was a majority of two Canadians on the board as Chris Daw and Brian Gallaway represented ⅔ of the board and even hired a Canadian Executive Director (ED). Minuted, nationality representation was not presented as a concern previously by Chris Daw until Americans were elected to the Board. Further, at the time of Daw’s term, the board at one point was 66% Canadian, the highest percentage of nationality governance since the IQA’s formation. Before his resignation, the Board was at a 43% American composition.
Currently, we are a 60% American composition after Daw’s resignation and Brian Gallaway no longer officially serving in a Trustee capacity.
Looking at the organizational structure of the example leagues from Gallaway’s document, it should be noted that these organizations enforcing nationality have significantly larger amounts of board members than we do and a significantly larger participating population, a point that was brought up at last Congress meeting (June 11) stating that our membership as a sport is too low to possibly obtain these numbers to properly establish board member nationality quotas. Currently, our board member capacity is seven members.
See the following for the number of board members for each organization:
- FINA (17 board members)
- FIVB (33 board members)
- BWF (16 board members)
- FIFA (37 board members)
- ITF (16 board members)
- WFDF Disc http://www.wfdf.org/about/organisational-structure/board-of-directors (18 board members)
As we are still in development, I would be more interested in seeing the initial structure of the boards being utilized as examples, rather than their finalized structures.
The following are my concerns regarding making national representation at the board level a formal policy at this time:
- The repercussions of attempting to extend the amount of board members.
On our board at this time, it would be the hassle of attempting to gather quorum. It is already difficult to gather quorum now with our current board and accommodating for multiple time zones.
- We had two Canadians at the Board level, which appointed a Canadian as the Executive Director before Daw’s resignation.
It should be noted that the ED is in attendance at Board meetings. Would we then extend the theoretical policy to the Executive level as well, like some of these organizational examples have done?
- The quota of participating continents still not being fully represented even with a formal policy in place, as some of the underrepresented populations are not NGBs that are full members yet or even exist yet.
- Should we decide to create and enforce policies created for nationality representation at the Board level, how would we enforce it as our Board stands right now? Would we attempt to try to remove an American board member? If so, what would be the protocol to execute this?
- If we do attempt to remove an American board member because of imposing this theoretical policy, would this practice be considered discriminatory against nationality? If so, what measures will the IQA take to defend against these potential legal actions that could be presented against us for engaging in such practice?
My biggest concern facing us at the moment, and it is one that I hope the Congress has as well, is our lack of diversity on the Board. Currently, all of our Board identify as straight white males, with me, Nicole Hammer, being the only member of the LGBQTA+ community as well as the only female. This is concerning, as while our Board tries to act to the needs of our community, this is not representative of the diverse community that we have and the inclusivity we critically acclaim.
I am concerned that instead of being concerned by our diversity, we are concerned by where our Board members live.
Nicole Hammer and Austin Wallace at Torneo Nacional de Quidditch in Mexico| Photo Credit: Ariel Heiblum
At this time, my recommendation is to focus more on non-male representation and a board that is more diverse by more factors than by nationality. I find it ludicrous that we are a gender–inclusive organization but only have one non-male on our board and we are not more concerned about the lack of non–male representation. If our board were a team, by our own imposed gender rules, we would not be able to play.
Further, I propose that we enforce our own gender rule for our own board or at least make it a higher priority to appoint more qualified non–males and/or members of the LGBQTA+ community to our board which is more representative of our current membership composition.
Additionally, I would recommend no current change to our current board structure other than to fill the board spots that we already need to fill and focus more on the diversity on our board.
While Daw’s nationality composition concern does have merit and is one to be considered in the future once we are large enough to impose this (which, my personal belief is that once we grow our membership and stability in the IQA, the nationality ratios will correct itself), I would like the Congress to please prioritize the election of more Board members on more factors than just nationality and therefore, not recommend nationality to the Constitution Committee but rather how to ensure gender identity, LGBQTA+, and non–white representation.
There you have it, fellow members of quidditch. Yes, I agree we need more board members on the IQA Board, if only to have trustees that have not actively alienated the community. I am more concerned that we are unable to retain female, non-white, LGBT, and non–male representation on the IQA Board of Trustees.
So join the Board to ensure there are people that truly understand the community. Do it so there are more non-male, non-straight, non-white board members. Do it to pressure the Board to act on their unfulfilled promises like publishing their own documents, putting on a World Cup that does not put countries and the IQA itself in financial peril, and giving Uganda the money owed to them from the Development Fund. Do it because an all-male board was made up of the very people that refused to put in a sexual assault policy.
Do it for the future of our sport.