Gender equality and skill-based appointments highlighted at the recent AGM

In a continuing quest to ensure Rugby Canada evolves into an industry-leading National Sport Organization, one topic of focus over the past several years has been governance reform. The changes in this area have been the result of an enormous amount of work by dedicated volunteer committee members with the full support of the Board and management staff. Updates have been made in a fully consultative and collaborative process with the Provinces and other stakeholders.  The process has been led by the Governance Committee under the leadership of its consecutive Chairs Doug Campbell, Sally Dennis and Maria Samson. Although the process of review and improvement will continue in an ongoing manner, the results of the governance reforms were evident at the past Annual General Meeting on May 16, 2021.  

Governance reforms have resulted in :

  • A reduction in Board size from 14 to 9 elected directors in 2021. This allows Rugby Canada to align with accepted best practices related to Board size.
  • Gender-parity at the Board level (achieved at the 2019 AGM). The current bylaws mandate that the number of directors of one gender must not exceed the other gender by more than two.  In addition, Rugby Canada recently elected their first female Chair of the Board.
  • The removal of the distinction between Provincial and General directors. This change signalled the creation of a truly fiduciary, non-‘constituency’ Board, while still keeping the athlete-nominated director positions in recognition of the importance of athlete voices at the Board level.
  • The alignment of all director terms to 3 years with a maximum of 2 terms, providing for  consistency across Board terms and limits as well as more frequent renewal of Board members.
  • The transition to a ‘skills based’ Board, with candidates being identified and evaluated based on specified skills needs, experience and character with a focus on diversity. An assessment of the appropriate skills will be completed annually to adapt to the changing needs of Rugby Canada.
  • Reform of the committee structure. This has included the re-establishment of the Human Resources Committee, the creation of a Nominations Committee with representatives from all Provinces, a reduction in the size of the Executive Committee and a revamping of all Terms of Reference to align committee responsibilities and procedures with governance best practices.

“Some think governance is a boring topic, but our focus on governance reform over the past years has been crucial to the evolution of Rugby Canada and reflects our ongoing maturity as an organization,” stated new Board Chair, Sally Dennis. “The governance reforms have continued our previous movements away from an operations board to a true governance board. Our current Board, including the recently appointed David Fortier, Isabelle Oliva, Phil Otto and Karen Paquin, will continue to evaluate and update the processes and structures of Rugby Canada moving forward.”  

In concert with the governance reforms has been a focus on safe sport and equity, diversity and inclusion matters. Working with Sport Law & Strategy Group, and other expert partners, Rugby Canada has issued its Trans Inclusion Policy and an updated Safe Sport Policy Manual over the past year. Internally, staff and athletes have come together to form a BIPOC committee that meets regularly and is contributing to the completion of an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy to be issued in the near future.