Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Ensure Equity in Decision-making

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Ensure Equity in Decision-Making
Wikimedia 2018-20 Recommendation 04 final.svg

Our Movement is composed of communities, individuals, and organizations from all over the world. By sharing accountability and responsibility as well as ensuring equitable opportunities for participation in decision-making and resource allocation, we will empower and represent all Movement stakeholders and have mechanisms to ensure all decisions that affect them are legitimate.

A brief video recording about this recommendation

All Movement stakeholders will have the mandate, knowledge, and resources to be present in any decision-making process that affects them, make decisions, and have meaningful input on related issues including opportunities to access resources. Movement structures will serve and support every community transparently, responding to needs specific to each context, with a sense of urgency when required.

Movement structures will be adapted and created to ensure all Wikimedians can have their interests and experiences represented in decision-making. These structures will be rolled out at a sustainable pace. Their function and effectiveness will be continuously evaluated to allow for adequate design, iteration, and consultation.

This recommendation is structured with the following five subsections:

Establish a common framework for decision-making

What

Our Movement will make decisions that are contextualized because solutions to common challenges can substantially differ from one part to another. We aim for shared responsibilities and inclusion. To make this work, we will establish a Movement Charter to provide a sense of belonging, as well as clearly defining roles and responsibilities for current and future members of our Movement.

Changes and Actions

  • Create a Movement Charter to:
    • Lay the values, principles and policy basis for Movement structures, including the roles and responsibilities of the Global Council, regional and thematic hubs, as well as other existing and new entities and decision-making bodies,
    • Set requirements and criteria for decisions and processes that are Movement-wide to be legitimate and trusted by all stakeholders, e.g. for
      • Maintaining safe collaborative environments,
      • Ensuring Movement-wide revenue generation and distribution,
      • Giving a common direction on how resources should be allocated with appropriate accountability mechanisms.
      • Defining how communities work together and are accountable to each other.
      • Setting expectations for participation and the rights of participants.
  • Establish a temporary committee, consisting of participants representative of the diversity of the global Movement, who will work openly, transparently, and in close collaboration with the broader movement and communities in order to:
    • Serve as an Interim Global Council and play a leadership role in supporting the implementation of the Movement Strategy. This temporary committee will dissolve after the Movement Charter is finalized and the Global Council is established according to it,
    • Oversee the development of the Movement Charter in consultation with communities, organizations and subject matter experts,
    • Engage with the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation to identify areas of its current responsibilities that must be transferred to achieve the goals of the recommendations, and;
    • Design an independent and transparent process, along with an independent legal assessment, to transfer those responsibilities and authorities to the appropriate Movement-led bodies. In those cases in which the legal limitations of the organizational structure cannot be overcome, establish a social contract to allow those bodies to make legally non-binding but socially binding decisions. This ensures that the authorities and responsibilities of the Global Council and of the other Movement-led bodies are respected and they lead within the Movement.

Rationale

We are a diverse and growing Movement, and we need to include new voices and more diversity in decision-making processes. We aim to enhance mechanisms for trust and coordination between stakeholders, create a common understanding of what defines being part of our Movement, and have mechanisms to ensure that the processes and changes that affect the whole Movement are legitimate and trusted. Overall, it is fundamental to have a common framework to define how to work together and how to achieve the Strategic Direction to become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge by 2030.

Enable equitable representation in global decision-making

What

To make Movement-wide decisions, we require a global structure that responds to the needs of our Movement as a whole and represents communities in an equitable way. In order to fulfill this function, a Global Council will be created.

Changes and Actions

We will establish a Global Council representative of the Movement in its role and composition. It will be composed of both elected and selected members, in a way designed to reflect the breadth and diversity of participation not only in the Movement at present but also in communities we wish to serve. This body will have authorities and responsibilities outlined in the Charter, and these should include, but not be limited to:

  • Overseeing the implementation of Movement Strategy, with community input wherever possible, and its alignment across established structures of the Movement;
  • Overseeing further development and endorsement of the Movement Charter;
  • Enforcing accountability of all Movement organizations around:
    • Use of Movement funds;
    • Alignment with the Wikimedia mission, vision, and Strategic Direction;
    • Compliance with the Movement Charter;
    • Appropriate use of movement branding and marks;
  • Setting frameworks on resource allocation and revenue generation for the Movement.
  • Any responsibility that the Interim Global Council has identified as needing to be delegated by the Board.

The Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation presently has legal and fiduciary responsibility for Movement resources and oversight. Initially, the Global Council will be established as an independent structure with a mandate from the Board. This means that when making decisions in outlined areas, the Global Council will work closely with the Board of Trustees. Both entities will cooperate for the overall good of our Movement. Considering its legitimate authority conferred by representing our Movement, the Global Council may later develop further capacities and take on more responsibilities over time.

Rationale

By default – and due to the lack of a global structure – the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees (the Board) currently has the task of making decisions for the whole Movement. However, there is a growing desire that a global, more representative structure is needed. As per the present composition and criteria for the Board, some key areas essential for the overall growth of the Movement are not well represented (e.g., technical expertise, Movement governance, and perspectives from emerging communities). To overcome these gaps, the Global Council will be empowered by the Board to give guidance in matters of strategic importance and specific delegated functions. Matters which affect Movement-wide strategy concerns will be referred by the Board to the Global Council.

Any decision affecting our communities has to involve those communities to prevent imbalanced outcomes. The Global Council, besides providing representation of communities, also ensures shared responsibility and accountability. Other existing Movement structures, such as the Affiliations Committee or Funds Dissemination Committee, will be reviewed and adapted during implementation and the development of the Charter.

Enable the empowerment of local communities

What

Regional and thematic hubs will empower existing and future communities to have the capacity and resources to make and implement their own decisions to meet their differing needs. This will ensure sustainability, resilience, and growth for the whole Movement. Regional hubs will allow contextualizing activities, tools, and information. If appropriately resourced, they will empower groups of affiliates to collaborate on capacity building, knowledge transfer, and coordination. Thematic hubs allow for specialization and work across the Movement, where shared objectives benefit from coordinated solutions. As a result, new connections and structures will emerge, or existing ones will be strengthened, which will bring the principle of subsidiarity into practice.

Changes and Actions

  • Actively facilitate and support the creation of regional and thematic hubs as structures designed both on identified needs and patterns of success, including networks developing organically.
    • Assess which thematic (e.g. advocacy, capacity building, partnerships, research, etc.) or geographic areas of the Movement need structures that support coordination across stakeholders.
    • Hubs are either an enhancement of existing entities, collaborations between affiliates, or new structures formed for a specific purpose. They are expected to emerge according to identified needs and organic initiatives.
    • Hubs are independent in their daily work and operations, though coordinating with other stakeholders and sharing results of their work with the rest of the Movement.
  • These structures will work toward high standards of diversity, inclusion, accountability, and equity in decision-making as per the Movement Charter.
  • The concrete scope and functionality of these structures will be decided by communities and organizations based on their contexts and needs. These systems will follow the subsidiarity principle while making the following functions available:
  • Allocation of resources;
  • Providing legal support to community members and organizations, and evaluating safety and security guidelines and procedures adapted to local contexts;
  • Coordinating capacity building;
  • Supporting organizational growth through tailored advice and peer support (evaluation, funding, networking, mentorship, etc.);
  • Developing appropriate technologies to better serve communities.

As hubs emerge and develop, their scope and their governance will vary depending on the needs and capabilities of the communities they work with. A framework for evaluating the success and impact of hubs will need to be developed, as well as methods of ensuring that hubs are interconnected.

Rationale

Our historical structures and processes currently reinforce the concentration of power and resources in the Movement around established communities and entities. This means that a number of decisions are made without consulting diverse stakeholders affected by them, which not only hinders the growth of the Movement but also affects the legitimacy and impact of those decisions.

To achieve our strategic direction, stakeholders and systems across our Movement must function together as a collaborative, supportive ecosystem and avoid confusion over authority and repetition of work. The most effective approaches are respectful of local cultures and conditions and empower participants to develop, test, and share their own practices.

Our Movement has grown in independent and distributed ways, but still lacks the systems, agency, training, and infrastructure to support the next level of growth. It has often been difficult to make joint decisions involving multiple Movement organizations and communities, both for online work and offline activities. Due to various socio-political circumstances, it is difficult to provide resources, relevant guidance, or protection for communities in some contexts. These difficulties justify the need for an approach that is locally- or regionally-driven and coordinated across communities.

To ensure that Movement resources are more equitably distributed, it is necessary to create a more distributed decision-making process to give access to those resources. This can be done through distributed, decentralized power structures and resource allocation, which would also better equip smaller and new Movement stakeholders to expand in sustainable ways and develop the skills to take up leadership and agency.

Participatory resource allocation

What

It is essential that Wikimedia affiliates find paths for financial support to develop relevant skills, grow, build structures, and contribute to our Movement in an accountable and sustainable way. More participatory resource allocation processes will be created closer to stakeholders in order to ensure more equity and relevance to contexts.

Changes and Actions

  • In the immediate future, the Wikimedia Foundation should increase overall financial and other resources directed to the Movement for the purpose of implementing Movement strategy.
  • These additional resources should support new regional and thematic hubs and other Movement organizations in addition to existing Movement organizations and affiliates.
  • In the near future, the Movement should play a guiding role in resource allocation. The processes for allocation should be designed through consultation and described in the Movement Charter. This transition to Movement-led guidance should occur in a timely fashion.
  • The Global Council should oversee the implementation of the guidance given by the Movement as described in the Movement Charter, including recommendations for funds allocation to regional and thematic hubs and other Movement organizations while recognizing the involved organizations’ legal and fiduciary obligations.
  • Based on frameworks set by the Global Council, regional and thematic hubs will facilitate resource allocation through approaches that are reliable, contextualized, flexible, and resilient to secure and sustain communities and organizations with multi-year plans.
  • Funding systems will need to be flexible in terms of length, merging strategic goals of the Movement with local needs and directives, specifying mutual accountabilities, and opening pathways to local funding initiatives.

Rationale

Increasing access to money or grants will not alone be sufficient to address issues of inequity in how resource decisions are made or prioritized. Resources should be allocated in and by people in each context and tailored to address their needs. Resource allocation decision-making processes need to engage the strength, expertise, and knowledge of impacted communities. This way it will be possible to provide resources to support capacity building and empower our communities to be more sustainable.

Altering our resource allocation systems will ensure a more relevant and efficient resource distribution and will create more local agency and impact. A positive impact on the growth of the communities’ capacities and their sustainability will allow them to be more autonomous and accountable.

Open pathways to decision-making roles

What

To build a more equitable Movement, roles and responsibilities will be clearly defined. Pathways to power positions will be open and transparent to avoid confusion and to include more diverse and representative voices. Mechanisms to resolve conflicts regarding mandate and authority over roles in our Movement will be designed and agreed upon.

Changes and Actions

  • Establish good practice guidelines for how boards function, such as term limits, election and selection processes, and approaches to other governance questions where applicable and relevant for a community. These guidelines will need to be adapted and contextualized by each stakeholder. Boards would be held accountable for following good practices by the Global Council. For those that do not, the Global Council will create mechanisms to review and provide support.
  • Collectively define good practice guidelines for how to both empower/inspire and enable/support new volunteers to run for different types of elected roles. These efforts will be particularly focused on underrepresented groups.
  • Ensure leadership positions and ways of accessing them are documented, transparent, and accessible.

Rationale

The current power distribution within communities limits access to power positions for many, including women and other currently underrepresented profiles. Current structures (or lack of structures) limit not only the possibilities of participating in positions of power but also the emergence of new leaders in our Movement.

Whenever the current power balance is challenged, conflicts emerge to protect existing structures, given the lack of overall guidance and joint movement-wide decision-making mechanisms to resolve them. Fair and open conflict resolution and power-limiting measures aim at balancing existing structures with equity. All of this will make Wikimedia inclusive of future communities and lead to a cultural change to grow to our full potential and diversity.