A study led by Western University researchers Stelian Medianu and Victoria Esses has found that visible minorities are significantly under-represented in senior leadership positions at City Halls in London and Ottawa, with Hamilton faring better.
In London, only 7.9 per cent of senior leaders in the non-profit and municipal public sectors were identified as visible minorities compared to 13.1 per cent of the general London population.
In Ottawa, only 11.9% of senior leaders in the studied sectors were visible minorities compared to 19.4 per cent of the general Ottawa population.
In contrast, it was found that 13.8 per cent of senior leaders in Hamilton were visible minorities, closely aligned with the 14.3 per cent of the general Hamilton population who are visible minorities, according to a Western University news release.
New Canadian Media interviewed Prof. Victoria Esses by email. She is Director of the Western Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations. Access the study here: Visible Minorities and Women in Senior Leadership Positions: London, Hamilton and Ottawa.
Q: What would you say were the top five findings from this study?
The top five findings from the study are as follows:
In London and Ottawa, our data showed that visible minorities and visible minority women were severely under-represented in leadership positions in the municipal public and non-profit sectors. Hamilton fared better overall.
The municipal public sector had the poorest representation of visible minorities and visible minority women across all three cities. Visible minorities and visible minority women were also severely under-represented in Ontario’s agencies, boards, and commissions.
There was also evidence of under-representation of women at the senior leadership level in all three cities and Ontario’s agencies, boards, and commissions, but these effects were less severe than those evident for visible minorities and visible minority women.
Q: What do you think was your most startling finding in the representation of minority groups ?
The most startling finding was with respect to the lack of representation of visible minorities in the municipal public sector.
Q: You have been a researcher in the area of immigration and equity for a long time. What are the legitimate conclusions Canadians can draw from this study nation-wide? Is there a need for studies in other immigrant-rich cities and towns across Canada?
There is a need for studies in other cities and towns across Canada. Similar research is currently being conducted in Vancouver and we look forward to seeing their results.
I believe that one conclusion that can be drawn from these results is that there is still work to do to ensure that senior leaders who are our decision-makers represent those for whom these decisions are being made. This work may occur at the level of recruitment, as well as selection of senior leaders.
Q: Did you interview corporations and hiring managers? How did they explain the gap between the demographics of London and the representation within their own companies/institutions? Are they doing anything to fix this gap?
As mentioned, we did not look at businesses. Instead we examined the public sector and non-profits. It is also important to note that our methodology involved examining the representation of visible minorities in leadership positions and we found evidence of under-representation, but we did not address the issue of why these effects are evident.