Is your co-op effectively engaging its members?
Is your co-op adhering to the co-operative principles?
Is your co-op meeting its economic objectives?
Is your co-op environmentally sustainable?
These are only a few of the questions co-op boards and managers ask themselves, but putting their finger on the answers isn’t always easy
A Canadian co-operative network has teamed up with a team of academic researchers to develop a scorecard to measure co-operative performance.
The project, officially entitled the Consumer Co-operative Sustainability Reporting and Planning Scorecard, was initiated by Co-op Atlantic in conjunction with the Measuring the Co-operative Difference Research Network, a five-year project bringing together academics and co-op practitioners to research the economic, social and environmental impact of co-operatives.
Co-op Atlantic is a co-operative owned by more than 100 co-op businesses – mainly consumer co-ops — in Canada’s four Atlantic provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Most of its consumer co-op are located in rural areas and have faced challenges caused by economic conditions and increased competition from both Canadian and multinational chain stores.
It is also an organization that actively promotes co-op values and the co-operative difference, an obvious candidate for the scorecard project.
“We’re looking at sustainability from an economic, environmental and social point of view – what questions do we ask ourselves in an organization,” said Léo LeBlanc, Co-op Atlantic’s corporate secretary in a presentation to the International Co-operative Governance Symposium. “We start with the co-op values and principles and look at what practices are inherent in our governance, management and operations."
The scorecard includes a wide range of indicators for four main categories: co-operative principles, economic measures, social measures and environmental measures. Co-ops who opt to use the scorecard fill it out and use the results to inform their strategic and operational planning.
“It all gets rolled into a report that says `here`s how well you’re doing’. It will also tell you how strong you are versus other co-ops,” Mr. LeBlanc said.
Leslie Brown, a professor at Mount Saint Vincent University who worked on the development of the scorecard, said the scorecard allows co-ops to evaluate themselves according to their own priorities,.
“This is not about evaluating the performance of the CEO,” she said. “It’s about saying: ‘this is where we are now and this is where we want to be’.”
For more information on the scorecard, go to www.cooperativedifference.coop/page/40-Atlantic-A1-Sustainability.