A new study led by Western University researchers Stelian Medianu and Victoria Esses has found that visible minorities are significantly underrepresented in senior leadership positions in the non-profit and municipal public sectors in the cities of London and Ottawa, whereas representation in Hamilton is more equitable overall.
A team of researchers trained on the Statistics Canada definition of visible minorities independently rated captioned, publicly available photographs of 2,415 identified sector leaders to assess their visible minority status. Non-profits included the voluntary and education sectors, as well as municipal agencies, boards, and commissions. Within the municipal public sector, municipal executives were examined.
In London, only 7.9% of senior leaders in the non-profit and municipal public sectors were identified as visible minorities compared to 13.1% of the general London population. In Ottawa, only 11.9% of senior leaders in the studied sectors were visible minorities compared to 19.4% of the general Ottawa population. In contrast, it was found that 13.8% of senior leaders in Hamilton were visible minorities, closely aligned with the 14.3% of the general Hamilton population who are visible minorities.
The analyses also looked specifically at the numbers of visible minority women in leadership positions. Results paralleled those found for visible minorities in general, with London and Ottawa again showing severe under-representation, and Hamilton demonstrating more favourable results. In London, only 3.1% of senior leaders in the non-profit and municipal public sectors were visible minority women compared to 6.5% of the London population; in Ottawa, only 4.2% of senior leaders were visible minority women compared to 10.0% of the Ottawa population. In contrast, Hamilton’s representation of visible minority women leaders was a direct match to their overall representation at 7.3%.
At the provincial level, it was also found that visible minorities and visible minority women were very underrepresented in senior leadership positions in Ontario’s agencies, boards, and commissions.
“These results demonstrate that there is still much work to do to ensure that the voices of visible minorities, and particularly visible minority women, are heard through their representation in the most senior leadership positions in the non-profit and public sectors,” said Victoria Esses, Director of the Western Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations.
This research was made possible through a Mitacs Accelerate Internship. Pillar Nonprofit Network, London applied for this research internship in partnership with the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and Volunteer Ottawa as part of the Ontario collaborative of the DiverseCity onBoard Program funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
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