Women gain, visible minorities lose ground in Greater Montreal Area leadership roles

MONTREAL, Dec. 14, 2016 /CNW/ - A new study, released today, shows that while female representation on boards and in senior leadership has increased since 2012, visible minorities have lost ground. The study examined 3,087 senior leaders from the largest organizations in Greater Montreal in six sectors - elected, public, private, voluntary, education, and appointments to agencies, boards and commissions, located in areas with visible minority population exceeding 10%.

"While it is encouraging that women are making progress in leadership roles, the results of this study are concerning," said Wendy Cukier, founder of the Diversity Institute and one of the coauthors of the study. "The evidence is clear, organizations need to leverage diversity to compete internationally, harness innovation and drive social and economic development. We need to develop strategies to be more inclusive."

The latest data showed that while women account for 51.3% of the residents in Greater Montreal only 37.6% of senior leadership positions, including board members and senior executives, were held by women in 2015 compared to 31.2% in 2012, an increase of 20.5%. The highest representation of women in senior leadership positions was found in the voluntary sector (50.8%) and agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) (49.7%). The corporate sector had the lowest representation with only 21.3%, yet a substantial increase from 2012 when only 15% were women. However, in 2015, 25% of private sector corporations still had no women in senior positions.

"Montreal has made considerable progress in advancing women in leadership roles," said study author Suzanne Gagnon, a professor in organizational behavour in the Desautel Faculty of Management. "While there is still work to be done, Quebec has been a leader in providing female friendly policies – gender parity in cabinet and affordable childcare, for example – as well as paternity leave. At the same time, the picture is not as promising for visible minority Quebecers, and we must consider their underrepresentation as a serious issue warranting attention."

But the same study shows that visible minorities are dramatically under-represented and appear to have lost ground since 2012. While accounting for 20.3% of the population in the communities studied, they held only 4.8% of leadership positions. This is a decline from 2012 (5.7%).  Among elected officials 7.7% were visible minorities overall with 23.1% at the federal level, 12.8% at the provincial level but only 3.8% at the municipal level.  Senior public sector roles had 7.6% visible minorities. The private sector was the lowest, at 1.7%. But this masked huge differences – of the 60 largest firms analyzed in 2015, nine firms had visible minority individuals in senior management roles (5 to 14%) and only three had any visible minority individuals on their board (11 to 18%).  Said Cukier, "The fundamental issue lies not in the pool of available talent, but rather with organizational commitment and processes. When companies make it a priority they find the diverse talent they need."

"The results of this report illustrate the ongoing work that needs to be done at all levels of industry to increase the active participation of women and visible minorities in position of senior leadership.  I applaud the efforts of the Diversity Institute. DiversityLeads highlights the need for organizations in every sector to develop stronger policies for inclusion of diverse groups in senior leadership. With our Leadership Montréal initiative, we are proud to contribute to those positive changes," stated Councillor Marie-Eve Brunet, Chair of Concertation Montreal.

Leadership Montréal is a Concertation Montréal initiative that supports women, people under 40, persons of immigrant background and members of visible minorities who are seeking to join or become more effective members of a board of directors. Leadership Montréal is a partner of DiverseCity onBoard.

The Diversity Institute works with organizations to develop evidence based strategies, to promote diversity and inclusion with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, Aboriginal peoples, abilities, and sexual orientation. DiversityLeads is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and 30 partners from across Canada.

Electronic copy of the report can be found at: www.ryerson.ca/diversity/montreal-en.pdf

SOURCE Diversity Institute at Ryerson University

For further information: Media inquiries can be directed to Sophie Allard, APR, at 514 499-3030, ext. 771 or sa@ahcom.ca.

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