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By Pamela Jeffery, Founder, Canadian Board Diversity Council
Inclusivity is good for business.
Yet somehow, even though Canada enjoys an incredibly diverse, multicultural talent pool of men and women, nominating committees continue to seek out the usual choice: Caucasian men. The opportunity cost of maintaining the status quo instead of seeking out the best and brightest in a much larger talent pool is simply too great. And so, in 2012, the federal government is trying to nudge corporate Canada into changing the makeup of its boardrooms.
Corporate Canada is beginning to understand that diverse boards are good for business.
Yet, a disconnect exists
While research shows that everybody wins when there are more perspectives around the table, corporate Canada has been slow to come around. Consider the numbers: back in 2010, CBDC conducted a survey of FP500 directors to get a baseline representation of women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities and Aboriginal peoples. Visible minorities held only 5.3% of Financial Post 500 board seats. At that time, 68% of directors stated their board did not have a written diversity policy. 16% had one. Among directors that did not have a diversity policy, 66% felt the board should not develop/adopt a formal diversity policy. Only 21% said the board should do so. At the same time, 62% of directors said “yes” when asked if they felt their board was diverse.
This disconnect was startling. (more…)
Written by Ratna Omidvar, President, Maytree and Co-Chair, DiverseCity
In the DiverseCity Counts 4 report, The Diversity Gap: The Electoral Under-Representation of Visible Minorities, Professor Myer Siemiatycki writes that “government is our shared, public arena and its leadership profile can reflect how power, influence and status are distributed in society.” But government looks very different depending on where your GPS takes you. The Diversity Gap both identifies serious geographic differences in our region and challenges our assumptions about where the opportunities for electoral success are found for visible minorities.
In many ways, within a diverse urban region that is the Greater Toronto Area, two Canadas can be found.
One is whiter and more powerful, home to the TSX, Bay Street, Financial Services, and The Old Boys Club. Old Canada.
The other is increasingly made up of immigrants, with economies based on new industries such as bio tech, information technology, or even freight services, connected to far flung markets. New Canada.
With little affordable housing stock, more and more residents, including new immigrants, are moving to the former suburban municipalities within the City of Toronto, and to the regions of Peel and York. That is were New Canada lives, works, and votes.
One of the startling findings made by Professor Siemiatycki in his report is the regional variation in the electoral success of visible minorities. Their numbers, both as candidates and elected members, are better in the 905 suburbs than in the 416 City of Toronto. And within Toronto, they fare far better in the three older suburbs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough than in the central city.
The real picture of visible minority electoral success identified by the research goes against the conventional view of city centre versus suburb.
According to Professor Siemiatycki, “traditionally city centre areas have been regarded as spaces of diversity, while suburbs appeared one dimensional and conformist.” But in the GTA, a visible minority candidate’s chance of success continually improves as he or she moves from Toronto’s central core to its “inner suburbs” and then onto surrounding municipalities of the 905 area.
During the October 2011 provincial election, more visible minorities were elected in the 905 suburban municipalities of Mississauga (3), Brampton (2), Markham (1) and Richmond Hill (1) than in the City of Toronto, numbers made more remarkable by the fact that the latter has almost twice as many provincial seats. Within the City of Toronto, another remarkable number emerges. Every single successful visible minority candidate in 416 was elected in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.
With visible minority representation at the municipal level sitting at a paltry 7%, clearly this is the order of government where the greatest gap can be found. There are noteworthy variations and contradictions when the full slate of elected officials is examined across the GTA, and certainly great challenges to overcome at the municipal level in particular.
The idea that New Canada has limited access to power and influence in downtown Toronto is hard to shake. If the October 2011 election is considered a suitable test, the fact that not one visible minority candidate was elected in the central part of Toronto is a considerable hurdle to overcome if we are to ensure inclusion in all its forms in the city.
For inclusion to take place on the political level, New Canada needs to find its place within the corridors of power, just as Old Canada needs to make place at the table.
Naki Osutei, Lead, Diversity & Inclusion at Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games Organizing Committee, was interviewed in September by The Mark after speaking at Innoversity’s Roadmap 2030 on diversity and democratic engagement. Watch her speak on the importance of DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project. Find this and other videos by The Mark on Youtube.
In a post on the Toronto Star’s Your City, My City blog, Maytree President Ratna Omidvar writes about the findings of the 2010 DiverseCity Counts report.