Report finds greater representation in government sector

Toronto Star
May 27, 2009

Lesley Ciarula Taylor
Immigration Reporter

A new report has found that only 5 per cent of the leaders of Greater Toronto corporations are visible minorities.

The numbers are somewhat more encouraging when it comes to leadership in government and education, according to the DiverseCity Counts report, released this morning.

The document is part of a campaign to demonstrate the benefits of leadership that better reflects the diversity of Greater Toronto’s population, 40 per cent of which is made up of visible minorities, according to 2008 statistics.

DiverseCity Counts quantifies for the first time the diversity of leadership in politics, education, government and public and private corporations in the GTA.

It’s not of purely social interest: there’s a lot of money riding on these numbers. A Conference Board of Canada report on diversity in leadership last fall concluded that underemployment of immigrants whose credentials are not recognized here costs Canada between $2.4 and $3.4 billion in annual income.

Studies have also documented the connection between diverse leadership and a better bottom line, with benefits including stronger links to global markets, more thinking outside the box and better odds on retaining talent.

“This isn’t about quotas. This is about finding the right leaders for the right times,” said Ratna Omidvar, president of the Maytree Foundation, which created the DiverseCity project with the Toronto City Summit Alliance. “We have the capacity to create prosperity.”

“Counting can lead to results,” said report co-author Wendy Cukier, associate dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management and founder of the Diversity Institute in Management & Technology at Ryerson University. “What gets measured gets done.”

Federally regulated organizations are more diverse, said Cukier, because they have been tracking their visible minority numbers for many years.

Among the success stories Cukier found was that visible minorities make up 31 per cent of City of Toronto boards, agencies and commissions. The city identified what it wanted, set a target and hit it.

That strategy is at the top of the report’s action plan for diversifying leadership, along with getting senior executives to make diversity a priority, and developing a “pipeline” for finding top talent.

Mayor Dave Barrow admits the gap in Richmond Hill is wide. Visible minorities make up 46 per cent of the town’s population, but account for only one just-elected city councillor.

“It takes a lot to commit to politics,” said Morrow. “A lot of (visible minorities) don’t participate. They don’t vote. There were very few running in the last election. And government and police are not seen as your friend in the countries they immigrated from.”

The city has been recruiting minorities for the library board. committee of adjustment and other council-appointed jobs in recent months, he said. “It’s a good introduction to how municipal government runs.”

Politics is a difficult job, allows Omidvar. “But please don’t tell me running for a council seat is harder than running for Queen’s Park.”

The Ontario Legislature, in fact, showed the strongest political diversity, with eight of 35 local MPPs being visible minorities. Omidvar was also pleased with the 19 per cent of principals and vice-principals in the Toronto District School Board who are visible minorities.

“What happens in our schools is very important,” said Omidvar. “The leadership is looking more like the children who go to school.”


The first DiverseCity Counts report on leadership and diversity in Greater Toronto found the following results for Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Markham and Richmond Hill.

13 per cent of the 3,257 leaders studied are visible minorities, compared with 49.5 per cent of the population.

Visible minorities also accounted for

  • 23 per cent of MPPs
  • 21 per cent of school board trustees
  • 14 per cent of MPs
  • 10 per cent of municipal councillors
  • 1 visible minority among Brampton municipal government executives
  • 10 per cent of provincial deputy and assistant deputy ministers
  • 8 per cent of police executives
  • 5 per cent of senior executives and 3 per cent of board members in private corporations
  • 8 per cent of senior executives and 14 per cent of board members in the largest charitable organizations and foundations examined
  • 19 per cent of principals and vice-principals
  • 27 per cent of school board trustees in Toronto District School Board; 17 per cent in York Region District School Board; 25 per cent in York Catholic and Peel District School Boards; 18 per cent in Peel Catholic District School Board; and 8 per cent in Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees
  • 20 per cent of college executives, 27 per cent of college boards, 11 per cent of university executives and 24 per cent of university boards
  • 31 per cent of City of Toronto’s municipal agency appointments; 11 per cent of Ontario agencies, boards and commissions
  • 3 of 12 councillors, 1 of 3 MPPs and no MPs in Markham
  • 1 of 9 councillors, no MPPs and no MPs in Richmond Hill
  • 4 of 45 councillors, 3 of 23 MPPs and 2 of 23 MPs in Toronto
  • 0 of 10 councillors, 2 of 5 MPPs and 1 of 5 MPs in Mississauga
  • 1 of 11 councillors, 2 of 3 MPPs and 2 of 3 MPs in Brampton

Reference: Toronto Star