During the last term Raptor Consultancy was involved in a number of projects, our student teams were engaged in supporting businesses throughout Northamptonshire and beyond. One of the standout innovative projects involved delivering a Democracy Audit for the first time.
What is a “democracy audit” and why should it matter?
“Well, a democracy audit is an assessment of an organisation's internal democracy, and it should matter only to people with an interest in democracy”.
So said Martin Strube, a partner at Co-operative Solutions, a Northampton based co-operative partnership.
“Co-operators, community groups, voluntary organisations, trade unions, working men's clubs, charitable trusts. All of these should have an interest in the quality of the democracy they are experiencing and how that quality might compare to similar groups and organisations.”
Last term this audit formed the basis of a work experience module for students at the University of Northampton. Four business studies students were engaged in running an audit at a locally based cooperative organisation. Guided by Martin and the Raptor Student Consultancy scheme, the students observed meetings, looked through archives, interviewed members, and generated reports.
Meeting for the first time at the Library Café, Martin and the students quickly developed a rapport. Martin introduced the concept and explained what he was trying to achieve:
“We are trialling a tool for comparing democracies and the efficiencies of those democracies. We're looking at ways of making the comparisons empirical/numerical as well as anecdotal.”
Over a period of several weeks, Martin and the students observed meetings, interviewed staff, and ploughed through documentation.
Arising out of this experience, they commented:
“It was great to be a part of building this new process and implementing in a real scenario. We were able to achieve the goal of measuring democracy within a commercial co-operative setting and providing fresh insights.”
Alex Fuentes added that “Thinking deeper about business processes and speaking with people at all levels are key aspects that I will look to apply during my career.”
Thu Nguyen stated “Raptor has been great for teamwork and working with organisations to learn some professional skills.”
The host organisation commented: “The whole team were amazing and we have truly benefitted from the whole experience. The results of the audit provided us with some insightful recommendations and we feel like we’re in a much more informed position moving forward. Thank you for all the hard work.”
To hear more about the Democracy Audit, interested parties are invited to attend a regional co-operative conference and seminar being hosted by Northampton University on November the 9th. Contact 01604 893570 for more details.