What follows is an open letter to the BACP, which I sent today, 23rd September 2020.
I am writing to you regarding your resolution and motion process this year. Like many others I am shocked and deeply saddened by the behaviour of governance in not notifying members that their resolutions and motions would not be accepted.
Last year, I was given the opportunity to amend, and although I am certain it would have been argued that my resolution was against the interests of the charity (which I, of course, refute) the resolution was accepted anyway, after due amendments. I am particularly shocked also by the other items you reject, most notably the one regarding voting percentages, after you raised the percentage without consulting members, and the motion regarding advertising harmful adverts, which contravene widely-accepted ethics surrounding working with eating disorders.
Putting the letter of your rules aside for a moment, I would like to know how you justify from a moral perspective, not notifying proposers prior to the resolution vote opening, so they had an opportunity to resubmit? There seems to be no reason to do this other than to block resolutions you disagree with, which I would like you to try to justify from a moral and ethical standpoint. The ethical principles of integrity, candour and justice, in your ethical framework may help you to consider this question.
If you believe you have no duty to respond to me as I am no longer a member, you might wish to consider that I am a long-term client of a BACP member, dating back to the days when I truly believed BACP to be at the pinnacle of fair and ethical practice. The days when I would recommend that others sought a BACP therapist, and later, when I sought out a BACP accredited course for myself.
As a client, you are charged with decision-making which impacts on the most vulnerable aspects of my being. Not only mine, but many thousands of other clients too. Crucially, when you act disingenuously, unfairly and, in my view, dishonestly, you can bet this trickles into what happens in therapy rooms around the country. How can it not? You must model the principles you espouse or they have no impact, as we see in national politics today.
So as a client, I am asking you explain to me how not notifying proposers that their resolutions have been cancelled so that they can resubmit is morally justified, and how your decision not to allow these proposers (who are not lawyers, and perhaps need guidance from you to meet criteria) a chance to submit a legitimate resolution/motion, serves me, as a client?
Please note, this is an open letter, and as such I reserve the right to publish any reply or lack thereof.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I received a reply from BACP today, which I have responded to. Here is the communication exchanged:
Many thanks for your email, and for sharing your concerns with us.
We’ve received similar feedback through our social media channels, and we’ve issued a full statement in response, which you can see here:
Where our members have submitted motions & resolutions for board consideration as a proposer, I can confirm that we have liaised with them directly.
Where motions and resolutions were not progressed, this has been communicated to the relevant proposer along with a clear rationale for the board’s decision. Whilst many of our members may wish to see this information, it is not appropriate for BACP to share this publicly on behalf of the proposer.
Where the Board collectively felt that submissions could be progressed with very minor amendments, we liaised directly with the proposer and encouraged a resubmission based on our feedback. Unfortunately, the nature of several submissions meant that the changes required would radically alter the nature of the original submission. In these instances, these submissions have been rejected.
With the above in mind, whilst I recognise your frustration with regards to the non-progression of specific motions & resolutions, we are unable to publicly share further details.
I hope that helps. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you’ve any further questions.
Head of Marketing & Engagement
Here is my response:
Your stock response is inadequate for two reasons.
First, you point me in the direction of a statement which contains the following lie: “Where this is the case, our decision was communicated to the relevant proposer in advance of the member support process opening along with a clear rationale for our decision.” Having spoken personally with three proposers who each report having not received notice of the rejection of their motions/resolutions until the day of the resolution process opening, and having seen the documentary evidence myself, it is clear to me that no advance notice was given by BACP for members to resubmit, and any suggestion otherwise is dishonest.
BACP has a duty of candour, and the BACP’s actions, and your repetition of them, are contrary to the terms under which the organisation is accredited with the professional standards authority. This initial statement, and any further repetition of it, provide further evidence of BACP’s failure in their duty of candour, which is a very grave concern.
It may be that you were not personally aware of your employers’ failure to notify members, in which case, it would be advisable to check the date the letters were sent (as opposed to when they were written) and you will see that they were sent on the day that polling opened.
The second reason your stock answer is inadequate is that it fails to answer my question. I am asking you, in light of the fact that you now know the proposers were not given advance warning and an opportunity to resubmit, how it is justified from a moral and ethical standpoint (I again refer you to the BACP ethical framework) to fail to notify members in advance of the decision, giving them an opportunity to resubmit? You may want to think again about how the process was approached differently last year, with reference to the ethical principle of justice. Again, how do the BACP’s actions serve me, as a client?
I look forward to your considered and personalised response.