Last updated: 2022-02-24
A Terms of reference document defines the purpose and structures of a project, committee, meeting, negotiation, or any similar collection of people who have agreed to work together to accomplish a shared goal. Terms of reference show how the object in question will be defined, developed, and verified.
This document details the terms of reference for the organisation and delivery of the SocRSE Advisory Group.
As a charity, the Society must fulfil its legal obligations in many areas including but not limited to: equality, diversity and inclusivity, financial regulation, working with volunteers, protecting reputation, liability insurance, cancellation insurance, GDPR.
Many of these legal obligations feature in the organisation of this working group and the Society Trustees must take responsibility for certain decisions and actions while at the same time formally delegating the organisation and delivery to the working group committee. Final responsibility in all matters lies with the Society.
Where the term “the Society” is used, this refers to the Board of Trustees (as the elected representatives of the organisation) unless specified otherwise.
This Terms of Reference is effective from 2022-03-03 and continues for one calendar year.
The purpose of the SocRSE Advisory group is to provide some external advisory guidance to the Society. It is anticipated that the advisory committee can be established from senior figures within the research community who can provide an external perspective on the Societies strategic goals and activities. The advisory group members are expected to support the Society’s aims and strategy.
Purpose and Aim of the Working Group’s outputs
It is understood that there will naturally be areas of experience which the elected board of trustees is lacking. By creating an advisory group outside of the elected board, we allow the possibility of recruiting people with specific skills or experiences which may be useful to the operation of the Society. Examples of skills gaps could be EDI, finance experience or legal experience, as well as contacts into relevant stakeholder groups. This group acts in an advisory capacity and does not have authority for decision making on behalf of the board of trustees and is not expected to take over any trustee responsibilities.
From time to time, specific queries may also be addressed to the advisory group from individual trustees where the experience of the advisory group may be useful. If appropriate, it may be requested that these discussions are excluded from the official minutes.
“Society of RSE Advisory Group”
Any change to this name and format must be agreed by the Society in advance of launching the group.
Structure and Themes
The working group will convene twice per year and with the expected output of summarising confidential minutes of discussion around points set and agreed by the trustee board along with a set of recommendations for future work. The meetings will also be an opportunity for the trustees to share vital information with the advisory panel.
Members of the group will be considered and selected by the trustee board who retain overall oversight of board membership. The trustees will retain the right to determine this process. There is no specific limit on the term for advisory group members but their membership will be reviewed on an annual basis by considering the Society’s needs, balance of advisory group membership (w.r.t. EDI and skills), and engagement of the members with the Society.
The membership is recommended (but not required) to be in the region of 6-8 members. This is to ensure that meeting attendance is high and to ensure productive round table discussion.
The Society will pay for catering and travel for meetings twice a year in the case that the advisory group opts to hold in-person meetings. The cost of this would be within a pre-approved limit agreed by the trustee board in advance of the meeting. In the case of a decision to hold remote meetings, the Society would provide the infrastructure to support this. Hybrid or remote meetings are encouraged for accessibility and environmental reasons.
Travel insurance should be obtained by members following their own local policies.
The advisory group meetings should be chaired by a member of the group and the advisory group meetings must have the attendance of at least one of the trustee board. The trustee present at the advisory group meeting reports on progress at the next monthly trustee meeting. This can be the same person each time or change as necessary depending on availability. The Society will create a folder on the Google Drive for the working group’s documents and would expect to see twice-yearly meetings with notes and recommendations.
The working group is not expected to require tendering for any of the in person events which would not be considered a large contract. Any expenses related to in person meetings should be submitted to the trustee board for prior approval and to ensure they align with our financial processes.
Each member of the advisory committee will be recruited with a specific objective in mind, for example giving advice on a current issue the trustee board is dealing with, filling a skills gap, or providing connections to stakeholders.
Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Accessibility
The advisory board should have at least one member that is specifically looking into advising on improving Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the trustee board and the RSE community.
Code of Conduct (CoC)
The Society has two Codes of Conduct currently in place: an event CoC and an organisation CoC (also known as the Trustee Code of Conduct). The event CoC covers the expected conduct at events and on any online forums and apps. This is the CoC that the participants of the advisory group meetings should follow.