The numbers, they don’t lie

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

A new study by researchers at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management and Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute shows that women and visible minorities are under-represented among positions of senior leadership in many organizations.

The study is part of a five-year Community University Research Alliance (CURA) project supported by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) aimed at encouraging evidence-based approaches to promoting diversity in leadership. It examined over 3,000 senior leaders in organizations in Montreal in six sectors – elected, public, private, voluntary or non-profit, education and agency, board or commission appointments – and found that, across all sectors, there is a gap between the proportion of women and visible minorities in the population and their presence in positions of leadership.

Co-authored by Suzanne Gagnon, professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management, the report contains a fascinating breakdown of the number of women and visible minorities in 19 municipalities in the greater metropolitan area of Montreal, as well as their representation rates in organizations (such as the largest 60 corporations headquartered in Montreal, or among elected officials or among the senior administrative ranks of the public sector), often broken down into sub-categories of even greater detail.

Some of the examples are promising:

Among elected officials, and on non-profit and education boards and executives, women make up between 30 and 40 percent of these positions (and 51.7 percent of the population at large). In government appointments to agencies and commissions and on non-profit boards and executive positions, visible minority representation hovers at or above 10 percent (and 22.5 percent of the general population).

Others are disheartening:

Of the 14 public sector police executive positions assessed in the study, one is filled by a woman and none by a visible minority. And while 41 percent of deputy and assistant deputy ministers in public service are women, none of these ministers are visible minorities.

The same divide holds true for the boards of governors at Montreal’s four universities: while women make up 32.6 percent of the boards, there is no visible minority member on any of the boards.

Read the report, look at the data and decide for yourself, here.

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