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Boards need to focus on good governance and not wait for a crisis

Recent scandals have highlighted the need for boards of directors to focus on good governance.

Governance is the main role of a board. However, far too many boards spend time discussing and reviewing their own governance practices to see if they align with modern best practices.

Sports organizations in Canada have been particularly slow in modernizing. In recent years, Sports Canada has created a governance matrix and the Canadian Olympic Committee has created a Governance Code and helpful resources to assist in modernizing national sports organization boards.

A quick canvas of online bylaws suggests that organizations have been slow to adopt changes. Those who work in this space have heard the excuses. Some of them sound a bit like this:

  • "This is the way it has always been done and it works fine."

  • "We consult with others outside the Board so we don't need more diversity."

  • "We are very skilled as board members because we have been on the board for a long time."

  • "Outsiders won't understand the needs of the sport."

  • "Why should we waste time changing how the board works when there is more important work to be done?"

The resources created and shared by the Canadian Olympic Committee were made in conjunction with one of the leading law firms in Canada and an expert on governance. It would cost an organization significant funds to arrange that sort of individual review. These resources are valuable and, seemingly, underutilized.

I am hopeful that the current state of affairs motivates more boards to look inward and spend some time improving their governance structures.

Don't wait for a crisis. Do it now. Improving governance is a core element of your role. Don't drop the ball.

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