This is Our Co-op and All of Our Voices Count – Shareholder Engagement

  | Board of Directors, Food For Thought

As of this writing, I have completed nine months of BFC Board service. A couple of months ago, I became chair of the Shareholder Engagement Committee. The Shareholder Engagement Committee, which includes Mary Bene and Tamara Stenn, meets monthly between regularly scheduled Board meetings. Often Sabine Rhyne, the BFC GM, and Jon Megas-Russell, head of Marketing and Shareholder Services, join our meetings and we discuss how we can be supportive of, and responsive to, the General Manager’s efforts and initiatives. Our meeting notes are part of monthly Board packets, are included in the agenda and are discussed at the full Board at each meeting.

The Board of Directors is empowered to be accountable to and make decisions on behalf of and in the best interests of its shareholders. We are aware of our responsibility to you, the Shareholders, and our committee takes our work very seriously. What follows is a selection from the committee’s charges and an explanation of the work we continue to do to advance those charges.

Develop strategies for the Board to use when reaching out to shareholders and potential shareholders to share the benefits of being a member and shopping at the Co-op: 

• When a customer decides to become a Shareholder, they receive a welcome packet. The packet includes a brochure defining the BFC’s principles, values and policies, some history, and rules of the road for working shareholders. Jon is planning to revise and update the brochure, and the Board would like to include a welcome letter in the revision that will specify the Board’s roles and responsibilities. The Shareholder Engagement Committee has begun discussing what the content of this letter might include, and will provide a springboard for the entire Board to discuss at a future meeting.

Learn what Co-op shareholders and shoppers think via tabling and other means:

• Pairs of Directors table each month at the BFC, engaging in conversation with shoppers (shareholders and non-shareholders alike), and gather feedback about their experiences at the Co-op. We try to schedule tabling at various days and times so that each month we get an opportunity to talk with different shoppers, thereby creating new, and strengthening existing, relationships. Tabling comments are recorded, are part of each monthly Board packet and are reviewed by the entire Board at meetings. This gives us an opportunity in our role as Directors to continue to engage with our constituent shareholders and then to provide support to the General Manager so she can successfully implement policies and procedures. Sabine and Jon are responsive and immediately address the requests and concerns that emerge from each tabling. At our August Board meeting, Jon requested that we ask customers to complete feedback forms and provide contact information with concerns at any time, including during tabling. Jon responds to the feedback forms within 48 hours and told us how important it is for him to be able to respond personally to shoppers-all part of relationship building and shareholder engagement.

• The Shareholder Engagement Committee spent some time generating tabling questions we thought would be helpful to Sabine and Jon as they strive improve the shopping and shareholder experience. We soon realized that all questions boiled down to two very simple and inclusive questions – Why do you shop at the BFC? and Do you have any feedback for the Board?

• In addition, the Shareholder Engagement Committee has provided feedback and support to Sabine as she continues her conversations with shareholders about discounts.

Identify and bring to the Board themes and top priorities when planning for the Annual Meeting:

• The Shareholder Engagement Committee is assisting Jerelyn Wilson, BFC Board Vice President, and Sabine and Jon as they design the panel discussion for the 2019 Annual Meeting, which will be held on November 15 at NEYT. The BFC will be celebrating its 45th year in 2020, and we’re hoping to inaugurate the festivities in the year ahead with a special tribute at the Annual Meeting.

So, become an engaged shareholder- talk to your Board representatives, join us at meetings, talk to us when we’re tabling, give us feedback at any time, run for a seat on the Board, vote and COME TO THE ANNUAL MEETING ON NOVEMBER 15!

By Judy Fink