Creating a Culture of Compassionate Accountability on BSA Council, Committees, and Working Groups

BSA recognizes that volunteers on the Council, committees, and working groups must balance many competing priorities when fulfilling service commitments for the Society. Similarly, the Society’s Executive Director must balance many competing priorities as the organization’s sole employee. By naming compassionate accountability as our labor ethic, BSA strives to be an effective and adaptable organization that sets achievable goals and ethically stewards our resources (labor, knowledge, and funding) as we respond to the needs of our members and the broader bibliographical community. On an individual level, when BSA volunteers and staff collaborate with compassionate accountability as our labor ethic, the following are true:

  • Volunteers say “yes” only when they believe they can make a meaningful contribution given their available resources (including time).

  • Volunteers and staff say “yes” after thoughtful consideration as to their ability to meet stated goals according to a pre-determined, mutually agreeable timeline.

  • Volunteers and staff feel comfortable and supported in saying “no” when asked to contribute more time, talent, or treasure than they can realistically give.

  • Volunteers communicate when something comes up. Volunteers talk with their fellow committee members, or with their committee chair, Council leadership, or BSA staff when they need help meeting commitments or adjusting a timeline, or when they can no longer meet commitments made in good faith.

  • Volunteers and staff feel comfortable speaking up and inquiring about potential conflicts of interest.

The text above was approved by the Council at the 20 February 2023 meeting.