History of the Canadian Centre for Ethics & Corporate Policy
The Centre's roots go back to the mid nineteen eighties and the King Bay Chaplaincy, which operated from rented premises in the Toronto Dominion Centre in the midst of Toronto's financial district. The Chaplaincy was headed by the Rev. Graham Tucker, who had established an Anglican ministry to those who worked at King and Bay, mostly in large financial institutions or professional firms. At that time, downsizing was in vogue and Graham was concerned at the stress levels he found among those who worked in these organizations. He found that many needed comfort and counselling and many turned up at lunch times with horror stories of what was happening in the work place.
Based on what he learned from his congregation, Tucker concluded that there was a need to apply ethical principles to the operations of their employers. Accordingly, he established a group of like-minded people to examine some of the issues of ethical management and corporate policies and formed the Centre for Ethics & Corporate Policy.
As the scope of the Centre's initiatives expanded, it was seen to be important in an increasingly multi-cultural society, that the Centre be viewed as non-denominational. While the Centre began as a faith-based group it very quickly evolved into a secular organization that welcomed members of any faith or no faith.
In 1988, the Centre decided to venture out on its own and added the word 'Canadian' to its name at the time of incorporation . The Centre was relocated to the historic George Brown House and the inaugural board was chaired by Tucker. The founding members included Brian Bawden, Len Brooks, David Carroll, Max Clarkson, Eleanor Clitheroe, David Grier, Frank McLean, David Nitkin, David Selley and Terry Thompson.
Soon thereafter the activities of the Centre settled into a pattern and its mission was formalized, to all intents and purposes as it remains to this day. Activities included a series of luncheon speakers, conferences on particular topics each year, and a Newsletter. Our Board grew and Terry Thomson took over from Tucker as Chair and decided to hire Elizabeth Loweth as a part time Executive Director. Loweth stayed in this position until 1998 and contributed a great deal to the Centre, not least during a very rough financial patch when she worked part time on a volunteer basis.
David Selley succeeded Terry Thomson as Chair and the Centre's luncheon series was expanded. New links and collaborative relationships with other organizations with similar interests were forged during this period and the Centre grew in its size, diversity, scope and influence.
Larry Hebb became Chair in 1998 and it was under his tenure that the Centre hired a new Executive Director, Anne Kerr. This period was characterised by increased membership and significant improvement in the Centre's financial position, as business ethics was becoming less of a perceived oxymoron and was being recognized by many business leaders as an imperative.
In 1998, the Centre put forward a proposal to the Federal Government to amend the Canadian Business Corporations Act (CBCA) to have corporations consider interests of non-shareholder 'stakeholders' (such as employees, customers, suppliers and communities) in their corporate decision-making. While the amendment was not adopted, the proposal received wide support in both the corporate and legal communities.
In 2000, the Centre together with the Conference Board of Canada organized the first Canadian Business Ethics Summit which gathered ethics practitioners, academics and business people from across Canada and representatives from the United States to talk about the challenges and potential for business ethics in Canada.
The success of this first summit was carried on in subsequent summits in 2001 and 2002 under the leadership of Chris Chorlton. During Chris' tenure as Chair, major steps were taken to broaden the Centre's reach through partnerships with other organizations such as the Caux Roundtable - a world wide ethics organization based in Minneapolis. Chris also oversaw the name change which was updated in early 2002. Thereafter the Centre would be known as EthicsCentre CA, however the legal name of the Canadian Centre for Ethics & Corporate Policy would remain unchanged.
Howard Kaufman was elected as the new Chair of the Ethics Centre in mid-2002 with a mandate to continue growing the Centre's relevance and scope.