Building Public Policy Together: Consensus-Based Policy Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome
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Building Public Policy Together: Consensus-Based Policy Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Learn about types of consensus-based policy creation that bring together employers, government agencies, advocates and workingwomen and men to work together to create common ground solutions to workplace issues. This process of consensus-based policy creation is especially important when building public policy that helps build equitable, flexible and diverse workplaces.

Presented by: Jim Hudson, Program Director, Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest Katie Corrigan, Co-Director, Workplace Flexibility 2010, Georgetown University Law Center

Tricia Dwyer-Morgan, Director of Programs, BPW Foundation

Consensus based policy creation
Consensus-Based Policy Creation Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

We must hang together, or we shall

surely hang separately.

- Benjamin Franklin

Consensus based decision making
Consensus-Based Decision-Making Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

A consensual agreement or win-win outcome of collaborative problem-solving and conflict resolution(

Informal vs formal consensus based policymaking
Informal vs. Formal Consensus-Based Policymaking Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Informal…deliberately reaching out to various stakeholder groups and building policy that reflects a perceived consensus among the offered opinions

Formal… banding together to develop common ground and influence policy

A spectrum of options…not either/or

Models of consensus building
Models of Consensus-Building Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • 3rd Party Broker*

  • Coalition-Building*

  • Cooperative Ventures

  • Neighborhood, City, County, State Task Forces

  • Civic Coalitions

  • Forums and Dialogues

  • Advisory Commission

Who uses consensus based decision making
Who Uses Consensus–Based Decision Making? Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Employer/employee policy development (Workplace Flexibility 2010; BPW Foundation)

  • Government agencies--National Park Service uses to create strong public involvement in land-use decisions (www.nps.gove/phso/rtcatoolbox/dec_consensus.htm)

  • International coalitions to resolve international issues such as negotiations over limiting emission greenhouse gasses

  • Local volunteer-based coalitions and partnerships to engage volunteer resources to solve community issues (

  • Administrative law has traits of consensus-based decision-making

Traits of Consensus-Based Process Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Unbiased mediator/facilitator

  • Longer timeframe

  • Participants identify issues in common to all the groups, seek to understand each other, develop agreed upon results

  • Decisions aren’t made until everyone agrees

Consensus building for policy change
Consensus-Building for Policy Change Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • How does consensus-based decision-making for policy change differ from other forms of consensus-building?

  • How does it “feel” different from other types of policy efforts

  • How is it similar?

  • What tools do you need?

Third party case study
Third Party Case Study Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Tools for the campaign six steps for advocacy
Tools for the Campaign – Creation, Employers & Employees WelcomeSix Steps for Advocacy

  • Vision and Strategy – what is the coalition’s mission and how will it achieve success?

  • Lobbying – how will the coalition effectively persuade policymakers?

  • Policy Management – how will the coalition negotiate to move its policy goals forward?

  • Policy Research – what data is available to strengthen the coalition’s argument?

  • Outreach – how will the coalition gain constituency and/or grassroots support?

  • Communications – how will the coalition frame its message to increase awareness of and support for its mission?

3 rd party brokers
3 Creation, Employers & Employees Welcomerd Party Brokers

Case Study – Workplace Flexibility 2010

  • Our mission: To achieve – by the year 2010 – consensus-based policy solutions on workplace flexibility that work for both business and families.

Case study workplace flexibility 2010
Case Study – Creation, Employers & Employees WelcomeWorkplace Flexibility 2010

  • Our goal: an accepted norm of workplace flexibility, which includes:

    • Flexibility in the scheduling of work hours;

    • Flexibility in the amount of hours worked;

    • Career flexibility over a lifetime;

    • Ability to deal with emergent needs.

Case study workplace flexibility 20101
Case Study – Creation, Employers & Employees WelcomeWorkplace Flexibility 2010

  • Our challenges:

    • To define workplace flexibility as a compelling public policy issue, not simply an individual problem

    • To bring together stakeholders – including employers and employees – with very different perspectives on workplace policies and the role of government in framing them

    • To engage those stakeholders in meaningful dialogue on workplace flexibility, while remaining a neutral facilitator of those discussions

Case study workplace flexibility 20102
Case Study – Creation, Employers & Employees WelcomeWorkplace Flexibility 2010

  • Our consensus-based process: A combination of formal and informal consensus-building

Case study workplace flexibility 20103
Case Study – Creation, Employers & Employees WelcomeWorkplace Flexibility 2010

  • In order to build support for comprehensive workplace flexibility policy, we have:

    • Built a substantive knowledge base on workplace flexibility, so we can serve as a resource for stakeholders and educate policymakers

    • Expanded the constituency base that cares about workplace flexibility – by engaging groups not ordinarily associated with workplace issues

    • Begun meaningful conversations between employers and employees on workplace flexibility – by convening working groups that equally represent those perspectives

Case study workplace flexibility 20104
Case Study – Creation, Employers & Employees WelcomeWorkplace Flexibility 2010

  • Our Lessons Learned:

    • When and where you can, take advantage of the longer timeline a consensus-based approach provides – to build your institutional knowledge and your understanding of the playing field

    • Provide opportunities for meaningful discussion without pressing for immediate consensus

    • Reach out to individuals and organizations who you might not ordinarily identity as an ally

Focusing on coalitions
Focusing on Coalitions Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Building a coalition of key stakeholders is one strategy used to bring together key stakeholders to affect policy development

What is a coalition
What is a coalition? Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

What forms can these partnerships take
What forms can these partnerships take? Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Ad hoc task force

  • Legally recognized associations/federations

  • Partners in efficiency:

    • shared resources (space, staff, talent)

  • Information sharing network

  • Advocacy coalition

Why coalitions build power
WHY??? Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome Coalitions Build Power

  • Greater scale, reach, impact

  • Increased resources and capacity

  • Creates momentum

  • Mutual success fosters formidable perceptions

  • Individual organizations gain: credibility, power, recognition and CONTACTS.

Collaboration requires
Collaboration Requires Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Common goals

  • Structures for planning, decision making, and action

  • Clear definition of roles and responsibilities.

  • Shared risks and rewards

  • General understandings and accepted agreements

Obtaining benefits of coalitions
Obtaining Benefits of Coalitions Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome


  • Identify the Issue and the Stakeholders

  • Anticipate Conflicts; Agree to Disagree

  • Identify Capacity; Define Roles and Responsibilities

  • Ascertain: Is this Workable for Everyone?

  • Identify Your Logistical Capacity

  • Identify Your Place In the Policy Process

  • Organize

  • Get Down to Work

  • Pay Attention to Legal Considerations

Tip 1 identify the issue and the stakeholders
Tip 1:Identify the Issue and the Stakeholders Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Do we have a history of collaborating with others in our community? Can we transform that collaboration?

  • Who are the current convening groups or leaders in the community?

  • Are there any risks that come with this association?

  • Approach them!

Tip 2 anticipate conflicts agree to disagree
Tip 2: Anticipate Conflicts; Agree to Disagree Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Address the following immediately:

  • Acknowledge any competing interests

  • Acknowledge mutual respect and trust

  • Acknowledge that coalition serves self-interests as well as common interests.

Tip 3 identify capacity define roles and responsibilities
Tip 3: Identify Capacity; Define Roles and Responsibilities Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Identify each partners strengths and weaknesses.

  • Establish a structure for deciding and defining roles and policies which builds on strengths.

  • Create the understanding that the coalition must be tolerant of dissent, nimble, flexible, and adaptable.

Tip 4 is this workable for everyone
Tip 4: Is this Workable for Everyone? Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Yes

    • Rural Groups

      • Chamber, hospitals, fraternal, booster clubs, state level affinity organizations

    • Urban Groups

      • Neighborhood associations, ethnic associations, unions, church

    • State Groups

      • Local organizations give voice and credibility

    • National Groups

      • State and local groups demonstrate representation.

Tip 5 identify your logistical capacity
Tip 5: Identify Your Logistical Capacity Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Identify how you will communicate,

track, organize and mobilize.

  • Desktop Availability?

  • Website?

  • Other means of communication?

  • Who is responsible, and for which piece?

  • What and how are we tracking our effort?

Tip 6 identify the policy process
Tip 6: Identify the Policy Process Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Learn the Basics of the system you intend

to influence

  • You don’t have to be political scientist

  • School House Rock is the key

  • Use your lack of knowledge to foster relationships and trust

  • Surf the internet

  • Determine you insertion points

Tip 7 organize
Tip 7: Organize Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

  • Find an ally and commit them to assisting

  • Delegate and assign responsibility

  • Reach out to those who know

  • Predict and prepare for positive and negative responses

  • Structure the organization so that it becomes institutional not peripheral

Tip 8 get down to work
Tip 8: Get Down to Work Creation, Employers & Employees Welcome

Manage the coalition and get them to work

  • Choose issues based on common ground

  • Build towards success

    • Put up a “stop sign” before you move the highway

  • Fight today’s battles

  • Fight with today’s tools and today’s insights

Tip 9 legal considerations what works best depends on the mission
Tip 9: Legal Considerations, What Works Best Depends on the Mission

  • What’s the purpose

    • Legislative advocacy

    • New power base?

    • Ballot Initiative?

    • Electoral Activities?

Tip 9 legal considerations ii
Tip 9: Legal Considerations II Mission

  • It alway$ $eem$ to come down to the $$$

    • Who’ll act as the fiduciary?

    • Is there any benefit to having a (c)(4)?

    • Tax deductibility

    • Will the coalition even qualify as a (c)(3)?

    • Would we be better of remaining unofficial?

Interactive exercise
Interactive Exercise Mission

- Use the following

Next steps
Next Steps… Mission

Is there any situation or issue in your community that would benefit from consensus-based policy building?