Friday 11 Sep 2020
⏰ MELBOURNE TIME
9.00 – 11.00 am
⏰ LOCAL START TIME
Dr Barbara Williams
Founder & Director, Bureau Kensington Consulting, Canada
Director of Bureau Kensington Consulting, a psychoanalytically oriented organizational consulting practice in Toronto; Member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations, and Organization for Promoting Understanding of Organizations; Advisory Editor for the Journal of Organizational and Social Dynamics. Guest of the Toronto Psychoanalytic Society.
Activist boards, governance accountabilities & the logic of fantasy
Within the past decade, social justice organizations – like many public sector and non-governmental entities – have been paying increased attention to governance leadership (Brissett & Sher, 2020). Recent contributions have opened the field for purposeful study of board effectiveness, ethics, and accountability, including the use of consultant interventions.
The presentation explores the board of a feminist funding organization, with whom I have been working. The fund provides money to activist groups and human rights defenders. It is a registered not-for-profit (NFP) charitable entity which recruits board members attuned to and active in resisting social injustice and human rights violations, and high net-worth individuals and philanthropists. In order to take up fiduciary accountabilities, both must make use of a corporate discourse (albeit a NFP one) and related practices that some board members have refused and that others may have benefited from. Using Lacan’s notion of fantasy (Morel, 2020), I invite participants to explore with me my dilemmas in consulting to this and similar boards in which i) efforts to resist power re-instantiate it (Foucault, 1982), ii) contradictory meanings associated with the signifier ‘activism’ provoke unconscious dynamics (Cederstrom & Hoedemaekers, 2010), and iii) there is a fantasy that divergent social and racial identities can be navigated without considerable anxiety.
Bissett, L., Sher, M., Smith, T.L. (2020). Eds. Dynamics at Boardroom Level. New York: Routledge.
Cederstrom, C., Hoedemaekers, C. (2010). Eds. Lacan and Organization. London: MayFlyBooks declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Available at https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/srhrdefenders/pages/declaration.aspx
Foucault, M. (1982). The Subject and Power. Critical Inquiry, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.777-795. Available at http://www2.kobe-u.ac.jp/~alexroni/IPD2018%20readings/IPD1%202018%20No.8/Foucault%20Subject%20and%20Power.pdf
Morel, G, (2020). The Unsinkable Fantasy. Available at: https://www.journal-psychoanalysis.eu/the-unsinkable-fantasy/
Introduction by Dr Joy Humphreys
Small group discussion; impressions of the paper and developing questions for the presenter
Discussion forum with the presenter; moderated for the speaker to elaborate their ideas
Small group activity or discussion ‘What does this paper tell us about working into the future?’
Discussion forum with the presenter; themes from the discussions
Whole Symposium across the papers reflections on the sessions