Statement from Boise Co-op Board of Directors and CEO
September 12, 2019
First, thank you to everyone who attended the Boise Co-op Board of Directors meeting on September 9. We appreciate your time and candor as you shared your concerns, support, and questions. We would also like to thank our crew, Co-Owners and shoppers that were unable to attend and took the time to reach out to us. As the Board of Directors and CEO we want you to know that we appreciate your feedback and your input.
The intent of this letter is to provide clarity, facts and insight where needed. This is not only in reply to the attendees of the Board meeting on September 9, but also the various people that have reached out to us. There are a number of questions circulating due to either a lack of information or deliberate misinformation. We recognize that this is a result of unclear and inconsistent communication. Honest and transparent communication is key to everyone understanding the “why” behind the decisions that are made and the direction we are going. We all need to work on this and it starts at the top. Our goal is to encourage a culture of accountability, and to more clearly outline the relationship between employees and managers.
Part of this narrative is intended to clarify the different roles that make up our Co-op. Each and every one of us choose to show up and most of us are here because we believe in the Co-op’s vision, mission and role in the community. To those who are here to help move us forward with purpose and integrity, we are grateful for your contributions. We have a long way to go and we hope you’re in for the long haul. Thank you.
Our purpose is to Stand Up for Honest Food. Our core values are: collective harmony, positive spirit of action, and respectful honesty. Every Boise Co-op employee should be familiar with these concepts because we built them together. And together we intend to live and to work by these principles.
The Cooperative Model
A number of references have been made as to what the co-op model is and how it is designed for the benefit of employees. We want to provide some clarity and information on this. Cooperatives are owned and driven by the members—at the Boise Co-op we use the term “Co-Owner.”
The Boise Co-op exists to serve our Co-Owners through the purchasing of goods and services. We were organized for that reason—to provide access to good food at a reasonable price as a buying club. In addition to getting the products and services they want, Co-Owners also get a share in the profit of the Co-op. We return this in the form of a patronage dividend. Each household is allowed one membership and one vote. Through this democratic process we elect a Board of Directors. The Board serves as representation of our 33,000+ Co-Owners.
Employees can be Co-Owners, but they do not get preferential treatment for being employed by the Co-op. They are allowed one vote per household along with other benefits under the Co-Ownership allotment. The decisions we make are first and foremost for the benefit of our Co-Owners.
You can find our bylaws and Board policies online (if you’re reading this in print: www.boise.coop/directors)
First, and because questions were raised at our forum, retaliation is not the cost for those who speak up to management or the Board. This policy is explained on page 20 of the Employee Handbook. Staff ideas and insight are always welcome and encouraged. This being said, in an attempt to foster a shared sense of mutual respect and professionalism, we will not condone mean-spirited, spiteful, or bullying behavior. The expectation for all involved parties is to maintain considerate etiquette.
Nor do we allow for insubordination; by this we mean refusal to obey direction from a supervisor and disrespect shown to management in the form of vulgar or mocking language—or making threats, spreading rumors and engaging in toxic gossip. This is destructive behavior that creates tension, loss of progress, and decreased morale. This is the very antithesis of who we are as a cooperative; it negates and undermines our values and will not be tolerated.
We as a Board of Directors and leadership team are committed to the creation and nurturing of a positive, empowering, and collaborative work culture. We all play a role in keeping this going. Our hope is that with honest and open discussion and mutual understanding of problems we can grow our collective confidence and trust, and improve our working relationships.