blog / May 07, 2015

European Associations

Yesterday, 6-5-2015, at the European Association Summit in Brussels, Mr. Loïc Armand, President of Cosmetics Europe, President of L'Oréal France and General Director of external relations of the L'Oréal Group shared inspiring views on how to run a not for profit organisation. The key message was: be smart as a professional association, 'Take a seat at the table, or you will be part of the menu'.  

The European project is important and business has to drive progress and change. The single market must be completed and rules further harmonized in our globalizing world. Associations, have an important role to play. Their Boards are usually composed of competitors, that outside of the Board room are contestants, yet inside the Board room find consensus and ways to go forward serving the shared interests of their industry. How to realise your vision and mission in this context?

  • Cultivate the uniqueness of your organisation. 
  • Be transparent about your decisions and actions
  • Be aware of the fact that your members cannot afford to be dormant, they must have a role to play and clearly understand the benefits of their membership
  • Large companies might represent larger contributions, but smaller companies should not be neglected. They usually need more support.
  • Open up to the global world! Work with sister organisations and join forces by collaborating with political and macro-economic organisations such as Business Europe for instance. Be aware of the opportunities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A dialogue about regulatory frameworks and fair level playing fields has to be created now.

Good governance is a key issue. Whether your association is huge or tiny:

  • Crucial is to have the power come from the AGM.
  • Give your Board a good reason to spend time with you. Make sure they can express their views, they will find consensus for many issues.
  • A good President, makes things happen, push and pull!
  • Keep your (motivated) staff as small as possible and focused on key issues.

When the rules above will be respected, it will work according to Mr. Armand. I was entirely convinced and inspired!


Hanneke de Visser


Partner StarfishMRM, 7.5.2015

Hanneke de Visser

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