COC Outlines Direction for Olympic Movement in Canada
At the biannual meeting, Ms. Smith updated the leaders of Canada’s sport community on the institutional changes currently underway at the COC. In Regina, the Board of Directors voted to strengthen and implement new policies and procedures on ethics, discrimination, harassment, and whistleblowing, as outlined by the Thomlinson Report.
The COC Board agreed to implement each of the recommendations proposed by the Thomlinson Report when it was released in January. The changes in the Report aim to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for COC staff and all those associated with the Olympic Movement in Canada, notably by creating more stringent legal requirements for directors and outlining a process for reporting incidents of bullying and harassment, and anonymous whistleblowing.
Also on Sunday, Ms. Smith announced that five positions on the COC’s Board of Directors have been filled at Session; each Director brings critical expertise to help improve the organization.
The new Board members include Olympian Guylaine Bernier, who brings extensive HR experience; accomplished astronaut Julie Payette; COC VP Peter Lawless; corporate lawyer David de Vlieger, who also serves as Chair of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada Board – each of whom bring governance expertise; and respected former CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers Chris Clark, who adds financial management to the mix.
In addition to the new Board members, Ms. Smith told the Session members about several new hires at the COC who have been brought in to strengthen the organization’s human resources and governance practices.
In February, the COC hired Cathy Stewart as Executive Director of Human Resources. Ms. Stewart is an experienced certified HR leader with a long track record of developing and implementing HR strategies and processes for various organizations including TO2015 where she led the HR function for 1,100 employees. She is uniquely qualified to help lead the organizational changes prescribed by the Thomlinson Report.
On top of the new policies adopted at the Board and Session meetings, the COC is implementing a number of new initiatives designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone associated with the organization.
The changes include: a mandatory training program on harassment and bullying for all Board members, staff and Mission Team so everyone understands what constitutes harassment and what to do when they see it; setting up a hotline for anonymous complaints; establishing a record-keeping system for policy implementation and progress; approaching the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada to discuss the creation of an ombudsman position for the sport community; planning to conduct a salary review for the broader sport community to ensure compensation is fair.
On the governance front, the COC has hired a new Corporate Secretary, Robin Brudner, an industry-recognized legal professional, formerly Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Maple Leaf Sports. Part of her mandate will be to lead a full governance review, ensuring the COC’s governance structures and policies are consistent, and ensuring both the Board and management have a skilled professional to gain advice from and for implementation of necessary changes.
“Effecting profound and meaningful change takes time but we have made a lot of progress in the last six months as an organization in ensuring that respect and well-being are at the core of everything we do. I thank the senior management team for leading these changes and our employees for approaching them with an open mind. We are wholeheartedly committed to living up to the Olympic values embodied by our athletes.”
Tricia Smith, President, Canadian Olympic Committee
“Six months ago, we made a commitment to our stakeholders and to our COC staff that we would be better. I promised them that together we would deliver real change that we could all stand behind and be proud of. Our announcement today and the steps we have taken together so far are a milestone, indicating our commitment to this promise. I would like to personally thank our COC team for its incredible support of myself and our leadership team and acknowledge their strength, character and unquestionable commitment to the values of the Olympic Movement.”
Chris Overholt, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General, Canadian Olympic Committee
“The caucus of summer Olympic, Paralympic and Pan American sports unanimously supports President Tricia Smith’s leadership and the direction she is taking to address issues facing the organization. She exemplifies the values of the Olympic Movement and is bringing them to life at the COC.”
Greg Mathieu, Co-Chair, Summer Sports Caucus
“I am pleased the COC has informed the sport community about the work completed thus far on the Thomlinson report’s eight recommendations. Tricia Smith, as President, has led significant work at the COC, during difficult times, that has resulted in required changes and improvements to policy, the Board and Executive Staff. The five new directors elected and appointed bring new voices and independence to the COC Board and the new, experienced executive leaders in human resources and corporate governance will provide solid leadership as the Thomlinson Report’s recommendations continue to be implemented. Tricia has the support of the sport community to continue her work.”
Bruce Robinson, Co-Chair, Winter Sports Caucus
“I’d like to personally express my confidence in Tricia’s leadership of the COC and the process that has been undertaken to chart a new course for the organization.”
Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities