Diversity gap in elected office: Deeper and wider than previously thought

New report on under-representation of visible minorities in recent elections

TORONTO, Nov. 8, 2011 /CNW/ - A new research report released today examines the diversity of those who ran as candidates and those elected in recent federal, provincial and municipal elections in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The Diversity Gap: The Electoral Under-Representation of Visible Minorities was conducted by Ryerson University's Myer Siemiatycki on behalf of DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project.

The research shows that while they comprise 40% of the GTA population, only 11% of those elected for office are visible minorities. This means that we would need to elect almost four times as many visible minorities, across all levels of government, for visible minorities to hold elected office in proportion to their share of the population in the GTA.

When comparing results across recent municipal, provincial and federal elections, visible minorities fare best provincially with 26% of Members of Provincial Parliament comprising visible minorities. Meanwhile, municipally, only 7% of all city councilors in the GTA are visible minorities.

"The absence of political parties and the power of incumbency make diverse representation in municipal politics hard to achieve," says report author Myer Siemiatycki. The report recommends that municipalities become more proactive in promoting civic engagement within diverse communities as a strategy to improve future results. "The municipalities should take a look at what's happening provincially. They came out on top, in part, because the parties collectively ran the most visible minority candidates," adds Siemiatycki.

The research also reveals significant differences across visible minority groups. While all are under-represented relative to their population share, South Asians have the best record of electoral success federally and provincially. At the municipal level, the most elected visible minority group is Chinese. Four visible minority sub-groups, despite large populations, have no member of their community elected at any level of government in the GTA. These are Arabs, Filipinos, non-white Latin Americans and Southeast Asians.

When comparing the regions of the GTA across all three elections, the research finds that more visible minorities are elected in the outer cities than in the City of Toronto. Within the City of Toronto, there were more elected in the older suburbs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough than in the central city. "Government is our shared public arena and its leadership profile can reflect how power, influence and status are distributed in society," says Siemiatycki. "What the research tells us is that the diversity gap is deeper and wider than we had appreciated. With these new insights, however, we can begin to develop strategies to improve the face of leadership in elected office," he adds.

To download the full report and its recommendations go to: http://diversecitytoronto.ca/research-and-tools/diversity-in-leadership-2/

The Diversity Gap: The Electoral Under-Representation of Visible Minorities is the fourth in a series called DiverseCity Counts that commissions research measuring the levels of diversity in leadership across sectors. In its first three years, DiverseCity Counts featured reports by the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University which tracked diversity in leadership across the corporate, nonprofit and public sectors. This new report is designed to delve more deeply into one sector as a means to uncover concrete solutions.

About DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project
DiverseCity is the latest project of Maytree and the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, co-chaired by Ratna Omidvar and John Tory, and funded in part by the government of Ontario. With its nine initiatives, the project is changing the face of our region's leadership. It is expanding our networks, strengthening our private and public institutions, advancing our knowledge on the role of diversity in leadership and tracking our progress. For more information, and to read the full report visit www.diversecitytoronto.ca.

About the report author
Myer Siemiatycki is Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University. He is the past Founding Director of Ryerson's Graduate Program in Immigration and Settlement Studies, and is Affiliated Faculty with the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement.

About Ryerson University
Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 28,000 students, including 2,300 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 140,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca

SOURCE Maytree Foundation

For further information:

Media Contacts:
Tina Edan, Manager, Leadership Programs, Maytree, 416-944-2627 x245, tedan@maytree.com
Julia Howell, 416-402-4274, julia@communityinvestmentpartners.ca

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