Australia’s biggest co-operative is eyeing sweeping changes to its governance structure, including slashing board seats, reducing directors’ maximum tenure and revamping its election process. CBH Group today outlined several recommendations as part of a governance review after a turbulent boardroom period that threatened to tear the organisation apart. The group said it would now seek feedback on the recommendations from its 3800 grower members. Simon Stead, chairman of CBH, said the board supported a range of possible governance improvements, and had started a two-month grower engagement process. The mooted changes follow a review of peers across the globe. They also capture the views of CBH directors, its Growers’ Advisory Council, and alumni to understand perceptions of the governance model and potential areas for improvement. Improvements on the table include candidate nominations and elections, director term and tenure, board size and composition, and board diversity. Mr Stead and deputy chair Natalie Browning will engage with growers through a series of meetings over the next fortnight to determine the support for the proposed new measures. One recommendation is to reduce the number of seats on the board from 12 to 10. The structure of nine grower directors (elected across five districts) and three independent directors could be replaced with a hybrid model of five district elected member directors, two statewide and three independent. Mr Stead said a smaller board size may facilitate more effective discussion and debate, and more agile decision making. “The introduction of new statewide-elected directors would enable candidates to be elected from an unrestricted pool, and may encourage voting based on skills, rather than personal relationships or local ties,” he said. It could become tougher for growers to get elected as directors, with a possible introduction of a candidate assessment panel to help decision making during elections, and a reduction in electioneering. Mr Stead said greater diversity on the board was supported. But the introduction of diversity quotas or targets were not on offer because of the democratic election process. Following meetings with growers over the next fortnight, a survey will be issued in September to capture preferences of key governance topics. There were calls for a governance review after a turbulent period at CBH earlier this year, culminating in members narrowly voting to remove former director Trevor Badger from the board for allegedly breaching confidence. That followed allegations that former chairman Wally Newman used inappropriate language towards a woman, in what some growers described as a smear campaign when Mr Newman was contesting his own seat.