[ARIN-consult] How does this improve Diversity? Community Consultation on Increasing the Size of the ARIN Board of Trustees

John Curran jcurran at arin.net
Fri May 12 09:45:32 EDT 2017

On 11 May 2017, at 9:47 PM, Bill Woodcock <woody at pch.net> wrote:
>> On May 12, 2017, at 6:52 AM, John Curran <jcurran at arin.net> wrote:
>>   The Board has not gone any further (e.g. establishing rules that govern the backgrounds
>>   of specific seats) instead leaving it to the membership to elect the candidates with the 
>>   backgrounds it deems most appropriate.
> But, at last fall’s meeting, the membership made it very clear in the closing session that the board was to do what it could to address the issue directly, which is why the board subsequently utilized its preexisting authority to appoint one additional seat.

Indeed.   The appointment mechanism provides the most direct way of addressing
the situation, but is also the least representative of mechanisms when compared 
to trustees elected to the Board by the membership (thus it is my belief that it 
should be used sparingly.)

> The problem is that, unlike many non-profits and associations, ARIN’s board doesn’t select ARIN’s board.  ARIN’s membership elect the board directly.  So the membership asking the board to solve the problem of board composition isn’t a solution…  As Marla points out, having more seats doesn’t solve the problem.  Having more candidates makes the problem worse, rather than better, since it decreases the chances of any non-incumbent unseating an incumbent.

I do believe that there is a relationship between the Board size and the _potential_
for diversity of backgrounds that end up represented on the Board of Trustees.  For
example, if the Board size were only three seats, then it would be very challenging 
to have much diversity of backgrounds. 

Similarly, if the Board had 30+ seats, I believe it highly likely that we would have 
some additional diversity of backgrounds among the Board members.  Note that I 
am using background in the most general sense, referring not only to factors such 
as gender, national and racial background but also occupational aspects such as
technical experience, management experience, experience working for an ISP, 
experience working for a hosting/datacenter/cloud providers, experience with IP 
address brokers, experience with mobile networks, embedded devices makers, etc.   
The Internet has a far greater scope than when ARIN was first founded, and yet our 
Board size (and thus its possible range of backgrounds among trustees) remains 
rather small in comparison.  

As the CEO, I can say firsthand that there are benefits to a smaller Board size –
it makes some tasks (e.g. scheduling meetings, handling matters via email, etc.) 
quite convenient.  However, given the multiple cries for increasing diversity, and
the limited tools that the Board has to influence this outcome (short of a major 
change to the Board structure that directs a specific composition), a modest 
increase in Board size seems a very worthwhile tradeoff to consider.  I agree that
it may not result in any improvement in diversity, but the same may be said of any 
mechanism we introduce short of structural changes to assign specific seats to 
specific backgrounds.

There would be some impacts to Board efficiency of going from 6 elected trustees
to 9 elected trustees, but the overall effect appears quite manageable.  I also concur
that larger Boards run the risk of being more perfunctory in their duties, but believe
that risk is generally with much larger Board (i.e. 15+ seats) and is unlikely given the 
passionate and knowledgable Board members that ARIN attracts...

> The fellowship program has been a great thing, and it’s putting more, and more diverse, faces in front of the electorate.  Likewise the ARIN-on-the-road program has been great, because it’s getting ARIN in front of people who wouldn’t otherwise get to a meeting.  


> But ultimately the membership has to nominate and vote for more diverse candidates, if you want a more diverse board.

Agreed, but will note that having a larger number of seats to be filled in each election 
provides more opportunities for the members to express such diversity.  It is quite
unlikely to ever happen with 1 seat per election, and it has not occurred with two 
seats each year, but we cannot extrapolate that to mean that it will always result in 
non-diverse results for 3 seats per year, as well as for all the values of n greater than 
3 per year.   I would not support greater values, but believe that 3 elected seats per 
year might be sufficient to allow the membership to better express their desires for
diversity when voting. 

Thanks - this has been an excellent exploration of the topic! 

John Curran
President and CEO

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