Think we’re living in an egalitarian society with opportunities galore for people of all genders and races? Are you also still waiting up for Santa? A new survey from Montreal has confirmed again that Canada is struggling to make gains for diversity and inclusion at the highest levels.
The study, led by researchers from McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management and Ryerson University's Diversity Institute, of more than 3000 senior leaders across six sectors – elected, public, private, voluntary, education and appointments to agencies, boards and commissions – found women accounted for just 31% of the roles. Visible minorities fared even worse. Despite making up more than one-fifth of the population (22.5%) just 6% of senior leaders came from that part of the population.
"Previous research has shown a clear link between diversity in leadership and a number of social and economic benefits. Diverse leadership improves organizational financial performance and stimulates innovation, among other well-documented benefits," co-author and the Desautels professor Dr. Suzanne Gagnon said.
This research also found significant variances between sectors and within sectors in Greater Montreal. Women represented 47.2% of appointments to agencies, boards and commissions, but were only 15.1% of the leaders in the largest private sector organizations analyzed. Within the private sector, almost one third had no women in senior management roles while 5.6% had over 40%.
Diversity at senior levels is linked to business success, according to a 2012 study from Credit Suisse Research Institute. The study’s authors suggested that having leaders from a range of backgrounds reduced groupthink and increase innovation, compared to companies with a homogeneous senior team.
"Having a workforce that reflects the population and the communities we serve, and an inclusive workplace that offers all employees the opportunity to reach their potential, is simply the right thing to do. But leveraging diversity is more than that, it's smart business," RBS Canada Quebec president Martin Thibodeau said.
"Our study of leading practices has shown that diversity is not just an HR issue,” co-author Dr Wendy Cukier, Ryseron VP of research and innovation, said. “Leading organizations think of diversity and inclusion as a strategic imperative shaping every aspect of the organization from procurement to product and service development, marketing and communications. We need to not only examine our recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices but how we build the talent pipeline to leadership.”
Simple steps to diversity for SMEs
Human Equity: Moving beyond diversity