Few women, visible minorities among top decision makers


One in three Montreal companies still have no women in senior management roles
The study examined 3,025 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 of Greater Montreal with visible minority population exceeding 10%.

Women and Visible Minorities in Senior Leadership Positions: A Profile of Greater Montreal is the second in a series from DiversityLeads, a five-year Community University Research Alliance (CURA) project supported by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which will produce new knowledge that informs evidence-based approaches to promoting diversity in leadership.

“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,” says Dr. Suzanne Gagnon co-author of the report, and professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University.

“The importance of this research is underscored by RBC’s own studies, and how we address diversity at RBC affects our ability to attract talent and continue to grow.  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.” says Martin Thibodeau, President, Quebec Headquarters, RBC Royal Bank of Canada

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%. 

Visible minorities represented 11.4% of the voluntary sector leaders in contrast to 2.6% in the public and private sector organizations studied. Although female visible minorities account for 11.5% of the Greater Montreal population, they represent a mere 1.9% of the total leaders analyzed across all six sectors.

“Our study of leading practices has shown that diversity is not just an HR issue. 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,” notes Dr. Wendy Cukier, co-author, VP Research and Innovation, and Founder of the Diversity Institute, Ryerson University.

“This research emphasizes the value of diverse representation in an organization. In business, as in politics, diversity is essential for growth, and those who embrace it, will be the most successful,” said the Hon. Marlene Jennings, Member of Parliament for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce/Lachine from 1997-2011, currently research advisor and Executive Director at YM-YWHA, Montreal Jewish Community Centres.

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management; https://mcgill.ca/desautels/

Founded in 1906, the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University is ranked as one of the world’s top international business schools by BusinessWeek, Canadian Business, Forbes, The Economist and the Financial Times. The Faculty’s innovative programs and historic reputation for excellence continue to attract the finest students and the most prominent professors from around the globe, as well as the most demanding recruiters from the world’s top employers. Desautels houses numerous research centres and academic programs at the undergraduate, masters, executive, and PhD levels. The curriculum is built on an integrated, interdisciplinary model that combines research, practice, and teaching. This holistic approach prepares students to successfully manage and lead across managerial and geographic boundaries in today’s increasingly interconnected world.

Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute;  www.ryerson.ca/diversity

Located in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, the Diversity Institute undertakes research on diversity in the workplace and develops applications to improve practices in organizations. The Diversity Institute works with organizations to develop customized strategies programming and resources to promote new, interdisciplinary knowledge and practice about diversity with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, Aboriginal peoples, abilities and sexual orientation. The Institute collaborates with industry, government and not-for-profits and academics to: research existing practices and evaluate programs, explore barriers to full participation in the workplace, develop fact-based policies and programs to help organizations attract, motivate and develop under-represented groups, and provide customized training to support the development of diversity strategies.

Contact Information

Chris Chipello
Media Relations, McGill University
christopher.chipello [at] mcgill.ca
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