Interview with Richard Bearman – Management Co-ordinator candidate for GPEx
Throughout August, members of the Green Party for England & Wales will be voting to elect members of the next Green Party Executive (GPEx). In all, members will vote to determine which representatives will carry out eleven different roles – including that of leader and deputy leader. There is also a ballot to determine who will be the party’s third member in the House of Lords should the party be asked to put forward another peer.
Former Norfolk County Councillor, Richard Bearman is set to stand for the role of Management Coordinator. In August he faces Matthew Browne (former Green Party staff member) & Florence Pollock (former co-chair of the Young Greens senate), who will stand as a job share team.
What skills do you bring that would make you an effective member of the executive?
I have been a member of the Green Party since 2003 and have never been a member of any other political party. I have held a variety of roles at local, regional and national level.
I was a Norfolk County Councillor for 8 years from 2009 to 2017 and leader of the Green Party Group for most of that time. I am currently active in Norwich local party as both Treasurer and a 2021 target ward co-ordinator, which will keep me directly connected to the experience of campaigning on the ground, and getting Greens elected to the local councils. Teamwork is an essential part of the Norwich Executive committee, or a council group, and I can work as part of team or show leadership when needed.
The Green Party needs to engage with communities up and down the country and our membership needs to reflect the widest diversity. I will use all my experience in the various roles I have played to enhance GPEx and further the Green Party’s agreed political strategies at a national level.
What do you think are the main challenges currently facing the Green Party, and how would you work to overcome them?
Greens did well in local council elections in 2019, but growth in terms of getting a larger number of Councillors elected at all levels is an ongoing challenge.With the support network of regional field organisers, this is now starting to have a good impact in my region and elsewhere. We must also make the breakthrough of getting more MP’s elected to Westminster. That won’t be easy under the FPTP [first past the post] system, so continuing to work for electoral reform to embrace a fairer, proportional-based voting system is also very important.
At this time of unprecedented climatic and social change the Green Party must look to the future and embrace further internal changes, however challenging that may be. I believe I can play a key role in moving the Party forward by working collaboratively as part of the national Executive body, holding the senior managers to account and providing clear and structured objectives for the CEO and staff.
What experience do you have in HR and governance?
I have held various senior positions in registered charities and NGOs including two 5-year terms as trustee for Garden Organic, a national charity with annual turnover of about £3 million.I am currently Chair of a local charity, the Grapes Hill Community Garden Group in Norwich.
I have extensive experience as a School Governor having served at 4 different local authority schools over the past twenty years in diverse roles such as Finance Committee Chair, Safeguarding Governor, as well as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Governing body.
In addition to having a relevant background in the charity/voluntary sector, during my earlier industry career I co-founded a small consultancy company where I worked for 15 years.This involved recruiting and managing other staff, marketing, finance, as well as the many and varied tasks involved with any small business, from cleaning the office floor to negotiating with the Inland Revenue!
How would you like to see the Green Party’s HR practices improve?
All organisations need HR polices that are fair, robust, transparent and legal. They should be applied consistently at all levels of employment, from Chief Executive right through to interns. However those in authority should always remember we are dealing with people, not ‘units of production’, so HR practices can also be flexible, compassionate and supportive, taking account of individual circumstances.
During my time as a Green councillor I worked closely with the senior council officers and used my management skills to contribute to the shortlisting and interviewing of Directors for both Children and Adult Social Services. I also sat on stage 4 staff disciplinary appeal panels at Norfolk County Council.
I believe the Green Party has fair and detailed recruitment policies, but are these being applied consistently across the board? Hiring the right people is only the start, but looking at measures to retain good staff and support those who need help to progress is also essential.
When things do go wrong, as they will inevitably sometimes, are the disciplinary policies and procedures fit for purpose?Not everybody thinks about HR as ‘firing’ as well as ‘hiring’, but there is a wrong way to let people leave your organisation as well as starting work.
What would you do to improve the strength of the Green Party’s governance?
Business structures are often relatively simple and can answer the question, “Who is the boss”?with one answer. Membership organisations, charities, NGOs, and groups with large numbers of volunteers require a much more complex answer.Those who take on significant senior roles within the Green Party, on GPEx, GPRC; or as elected representatives of the party as MPs, Assembly members or Councillors, need to understand the relationship between all the Governance bodies across the Green Party.Strengthening the ties between head office in London, the regions, Liberation groups and International Green groups, by finding common goals for everyone, is vital.
There are many governance models around and the Green Party has historically managed change in my time as a member, to create the post of‘Leader’, appoint a Chief Executive Officer; and embark on further changes in the Holistic Review. My background in community activism and voluntary group engagement, combined with professional experience in HR and Governance, can be of great value to the Green Party.
Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to find out the aspirations and experiences of this year’s GPEx candidates.
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