SIA Holding Sham ElectionBy John Honovich, Published Feb 08, 2022, 10:10am EST
The Security Industry Association is holding a sham election after last year committing to improvements, though SIA tells IPVM such changes were just a "first step" and that they remain open to further improvements.
For background, see Problems With The SIA Board Of Directors.
Inside this note, we examine the 2022 election, why it is a sham, what problems this causes, and SIA's detailed response to IPVM.
The core problems are:
- Illegitimate elections where SIA members are given no choice in Board Members. A slate is presented (this year 9 candidates) and SIA members must vote for or against the slate, no other choice is provided.
- Board Members are selected by a secretive process of SIA insiders.
Three men unilaterally decide who will be on the SIA board. This year, they are James Rothstein, formerly of Anixter, Pierre Trapanese, CEO of integrator Northland Controls, and Scott Schafer, who previously was SVP of Arecont Vision until shortly before the company's bankruptcy filing.
Unlike past years, people could apply and have the nominations committee consider them for the SIA board.
Like in past years, the nominations committee picks whomever they want, without any clarity or explanation of why.
No Choice In Candidates
SIA members have no choice in candidates, as SIA nominates the exact number of candidates as there are slots available for the board.
While SIA markets this to members as a "vote" or "voting", the only effective option would be to reject the entire proposed board nominations, rather than to actually vote for preferred candidates:
SIA requires voters to disclose their name, increasing the risk for those willing to oppose the organization:
Repeated Votes Allowed
The SIA web form allows people to repeatedly vote, e.g., I voted "no" 3 times as it is a web form, rather than an actual real voting system. [Update: on my 4th attempt, I submitted a vote attributed to "Xi Jinping" just to test the system. "Xi Jinping's" vote was submitted.]
The proxy voting does not explain whether it is one vote per SIA login or one per SIA member (though as it is structured now, it is as many votes as a person can submit over and over again). In fairness, it does not matter, as SIA understands this is not an actual election.
Update: SIA says they manually check votes, only allow one vote per company member, and discarded the "Xi Jinping" vote.
Real Voting Available
While SIA's CEO told us that their approach to voting is "widely accepted practices by corporate trade associations", there are clearly many associations doing real voting. For example, ASIS has competitive elections where members can choose from multiple candidates using Survey&Ballot Systems "Direct Vote Live", the video below overviews their offering:
This organization has managed the voting for example for the American College of Physicians 2021 Board of Governors Election, Navy Mutual 2022 Board of Directors Election, American Association for the Advancement of Science Election. These are just a few picked from the first page of Google search results.
[Update: SIA noted that ASIS is a professional, individual membership organization, not a corporate trade association, as SIA is.]
SIA has struggled to deal with major changes in the industry, most visibly how they could not see problems with the PRC China coming for the industry (e.g., China Is Not A Security Megatrend, Says SIA). We have interacted with them for years and the sheer lack of comprehension they have demonstrated is baffling.
My hypothesis is that SIA is an organization that avoids conflict, at any cost, even if the cost is making them increasingly irrelevant and unable to handle the major issues that the industry they claim to lead faces. The determination to not have real elections reflects the fundamental desire to avoid conflict. SIA's new chairman James Rothenstein is the ideal encapsulation of that approach.
SIA CEO Don Erickson sent the following statement in response to IPVM's concerns, copied below in full:
Last year, the SIA Board of Directors adopted several changes to the SIA Bylaws to ensure certain governance policies and procedures were reflective of widely accepted practices by corporate trade associations.
These Bylaws modifications included a new requirement for SIA to issue a new 120-day notice to members describing the opportunity to nominate Directors for consideration by the Nominations Committee. We were very pleased with the number of candidates who were nominated for consideration by the Board in response to this first-ever Call for Nominations. The Bylaws changes were positive improvements to SIA’s operations and a first step in a broader SIA governance review process.
The SIA Board has directed the Bylaws Committee to continue its examination of additional existing policies and procedures that could be changed to further increase transparency, promote diversity of views, and increase SIA member participation. We expect the Board to consider recommendations from the SIA Bylaws Committee this summer.
We remain very open to any constructive ideas that will maximize SIA member involvement within the association. SIA will soon announce a schedule of listening sessions in which members interested in SIA governance matters may provide their feedback for consideration by the SIA Bylaws Committee.
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