Hi folks, given the reception of my recent post on Hockey Canada, I decided to share with you in this month’s article my thoughts on the recent scandal. These thoughts are purposefully more direct than some of my other articles, and this is a strategic choice, given the context.
You can also see my post on this issue here.
We know now that Chief Executive Officer Scott Smith is out as are the board of directors.
A long road of culture change awaits an organization who paid millions in settlement money out of its “National Equity Fund” to settle sexual assault cases.
This week, we just celebrated the #internationaldayofthegirl on October 11. We know that young females and children, particularly those 15-24 years of age are at the highest risk of becoming victims of sexual assault. Of all sexual assault incidents in Canada, nearly half (47%) were committed against women aged 15 to 24. And that does not account for normalized violence against trans and non-binary youth. Think about all the young girls and people who want to get into the game.
As the organization moves forward, I urge it to consider:
1) A focus on avoiding lawsuits will not bring about change.
To make change, take a hard look at how sexual violence was so normalized that it was pegged as the “cost of doing business.”
2) There has been a great deal of focus on Hockey Canada’s reputation in the aftermath of this news. I urge it to focus less on reputation, and more on what it will do to make this a safe organization to come forward.
This is how you rebuild public trust. Your sponsors have spoken.
We still live in a world where systemic barriers, stigma and the normalization of sexual violence prevent folks from coming forward; the rate of reporting of sexual assault to police (5%) in Canada is drastically lower than other violent crimes.
Focus on removing these barriers for them. Focus on how you will create a culture where sexual violence can be seen, named, and is not ok.
To other organizations, in Canada, and beyond, in sport, and beyond: Hockey Canada is not unique; there are lessons here for all of us.
See some great research on how institutions can build back better, and be safer for everyone at the Center for Institutional Courage.
Until we meet, take care of yourselves, and each other.
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