Co-op Governance: Committee Work

Did you know that the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society (HCCS) Board of Directors gets a lot of its work done through committees?

The Board doesn’t delegate decisions to smaller groups, but it does create committees and special task groups to dig into topics that require further research and consideration. Committee members include Board members, Co-op member-owners and Co-op employees. They present the Board with information, ideas and sometimes recommendations.

One recent example of committee work is the Member Engagement/Treatment of Employees Committee’s recommendation to remove all references of “at will” employment from the HCCS Employee Handbook*.

How did that happen? Last year, the Board created the Member Engagement/Treatment of Employees Committee, with a charter to

  • Develop and recommend to the Board of Directors policies and procedures to move forward with improvements or adjustments to Executive Limitation (EL) 5 or treatment of employees in accordance with the governing policy model.
  • Provide information to assist the board in their understanding of the issues that have been raised previously,
  • Use the evaluation data to inform and continuously improve the board’s oversight with regard to the best possible conditions of employee culture, and to make this information available to the entire staff and membership via the board’s evaluation website.
  • To provide a forum or platform for discussion of any additional matters that arise from board members, employees or members that are relevant to the EL-5 treatment of employees
  • Ensure that the HCCS board has an evaluation process that measures the extent to which the HCCS is achieving its fundamental goals to be a major source of employment in the community providing personal satisfaction to employees, livable wages and financial security.

Over many months, the committee of member-owners, employees and board members met, discussed, researched and studied the issue of at-will employment. In the end, the committee’s findings were presented to the Board, which unanimously accepted its recommendation.

Committee work is a great example of our Co-op’s member-driven organization. If you’re interested in committee work or curious about the Co-op’s other committees, please email Board Administrator, April Harkness, at

*You can read more about the changes that have taken place regarding the removal of “at will” language here or here.

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April Harkness

April is the Co-op's ESG Program Manager. Contact April at aprilharkness at coopfoodstore dot com.