August 6, 2020

Guilt by Association

I received an email from the Chair of the OHS Board of Directors today. As a side note, she mentioned that she had been following the saga of the WE Charity with great interest. I wasn’t surprised, as I had been watching as well. I expect for the same reason: not the politics or possible political scandal, but because of revelations about the internal governance of the charity itself. 

Before the House Finance Committee, the former Chair Michelle Douglas disclosed the reasons that she resigned from the Board of WE Charity. Among the reasons she gave was that WE executives refused to provide financial documents to support laying off hundreds of staff, and were denied access to the Chief Financial Officer. Moreover, she was not aware that the charity paid speakers. On top of that, she revealed that founder Craig Kielburger had asked her to resign.

Our chair and I were surely thinking the same thing:  if I did this, I would be fired, immediately, and with cause — and rightly so. I report to the Board of Directors, as representatives of the community. They do not report to me.

Every year a report is issued for Canada, called the Edelman Trust Barometer. It’s an interesting read. Among its findings is that Canadians believe that NGOs, or Non-Governmental Organizations, which include charities like WE and the OHS, are the most ethical of institutions, outpacing government, business and media.

Trust is an essential asset for the OHS and any charity, and we can only build trust through high ethical standards. If our community doesn’t trust us to make ethical, transparent and professional decisions about how we raise and spend money, in programming and ultimately how we help animals and our community, then we will no longer exist.

I only hope that if our community does lose faith in the OHS, it is because we have failed ethically, and not because WE Charity has.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO

P.S. To support trust from our community, the OHS has achieved accreditation from Imagine Canada, having demonstrated excellence and leadership in board governance, financial accountability and transparency, fundraising, staff management, and volunteer involvement.