A study led by Western University researchers found that in the non-profit and municipal public sectors, visible minorities are significantly underrepresented in senior leadership in London and Ottawa.
The study, released Tuesday, found that representation in Hamilton is more equitable.
A team of researchers led by Western’s Stelian Medianu and Victoria Esses assessed publicly available photographs of 2,415 sector leaders and found that while 13.1% of London’s population consists of visible minorities, only 7.9% of senior leaders were identified as visible minorities.
“For the municipal public sector, so these are senior leaders in municipal positions, we found nobody who was a visible minority based on a list of the senior management,” Director of the Western Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations Victoria Esses tells AM980.
“It’s important to have the decision makers represent the population for whom they’re making decisions. If there isn’t a broad range of perspectives included in the decision-making process, we don’t know that the diverse needs and interests of the London population are being represented.”
In Ottawa, visible minorities make up 19.4% of the general population while only 11.9% of senior leaders.
Meantime, visible minorities in Hamilton are 13.8% of senior leaders which is closely aligned with the makeup of the general population which is 14.3% visible minorities.
When looking specifically at visible minority women, in London, 3.1% of senior leaders are visible minority women compared to 6.5% of the general population while in Ottawa only 4.2% of senior leaders were visible minority women compared to 10% of the general population. In Hamilton, visible minority women were represented in senior leadership positions at a direct match to their overall representation, at 7.3%.
“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 Esses.
The research is in part thanks to London’s Pillar Nonprofit Network which applied for a Mitacs Accelerate Intership in partnership with the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and Volunteer Ottawa and was funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation through the DiverseCity onBoard Program.