Members of the Administrative, Nominating and Quaker Life Councils received an update regarding the Staff Voice Policy on July 14th at their joint meeting. The update is shared here for all Friends.
This policy was formally adopted in November 2017, following a discernment process involving all members of the staff in the office, the Personnel Committee, the Administrative and Quaker Life Councils and legal counsel. The policy was initiated to expand and clarify staff participation since previously staff members were expected to not speak during business sessions other than sharing information. The policy strongly encourages staff to raise concerns internally during the development of policies and programs. As a decision-making process proceeds, a staff member can continue to raise concerns as outlined in the grievance and whistleblower policies.
The Staff Voice Policy states: “In seeking this collective unity, all Friends are encouraged to participate and all Friends are encouraged to set aside their personal convictions to be led by a guide beyond oneself…PYM Staff are encouraged to participate in this spirit-led process of our business practice…However, due to their positions of power and authority, Staff have an even larger responsibility to undergo deep discernment before using their voice within the PYM community, and to be intentional in the timing, context, and manner in which they speak.”
In late May, several questions were raised by a member of the PYM community regarding language at the conclusion of the policy statement: “In the event that a staff person chooses not to refrain from airing their disagreement in public in disregard of this policy and/or the social media policy, their supervisor and/or the General Secretary will determine appropriate responses that support the well-being of the PYM organization including disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”
During two listening sessions, members of the Personnel Committee heard a variety of comments about the Staff Voice Policy from staff in the office, including their general approval of the work they did together on the Staff Voice Policy along with the Social Media and Grievance policies. The committee also heard from part-time staff who do not work in the office regarding the need for further clarity regarding the section on disciplinary action and a suggestion that this section be expanded to include guidance for staff who are discerning whether to share concerns.
Recognizing the workload associated with Annual Sessions and the importance of August vacations for staff, the Personnel Committee, and staff will discuss possible language to provide such clarification and guidance in September.
The clerks of Annual Sessions have arranged for a listening session on the Staff Voice Policy will be held during Annual Sessions, on Friday, July 27, 1:00 p.m. (as part of the Conversation Tents) Staff and members of the PYM community are invited to participate. The clerks are arranging for facilitation of the conversation and the Personnel Committee co-clerks, Paula Cell, and Linda Lotz will be present.