Women and racialized minority representation in Montreal's senior leadership on the rise

MONTREAL - A new study shows that the representation of women and racialized minorities in senior leadership positions in the Greater Montreal Area (GMA) has increased since 2016 but both are still under-represented based on their proportion in the population.

Ryerson University's Diversity Institute and Canada Women's Foundation looked at 2,537 senior leaders across the largest organizations in the public, corporate, voluntary, education and health sectors of the GMA and found that in 2019, women, who make up over 50% of the population of the GMA, held 40.7% of senior leadership positions, up 8.1% from 2016.

The study also found that racialized people, who make up over 22% of the population of the GMA, held only 5.3% of the senior leadership positions. This increased by 12.5% since 2016.

Government agencies, boards and commissions were found to have the greatest amount of diversity while the corporate sector was found to have the least amount of diversity, which presents a challenge as Bill C-25, which requires all federally incorporated businesses to report on the diversity of their senior management to their shareholders and to the federal government, comes into effect on January 1st, 2020.

"Organizations that have diversity in their senior leadership are more innovative, have more effective workplaces and perform better financially," said Wendy Cukier, Director of the Diversity Institute and co-author of the study, "Despite the proven benefits of diversity in the workplace, women and racialized minorities continue to be underrepresented in senior leadership positions and this represents a lost opportunity."

The study calls for organizations to ensure greater diversity and representation of women and racialized people in leadership roles in order to advance social equity, drive economic growth and respond to skills shortages.

"The test of meaningful equity is this: who has the power to make decisions to change the status quo for the better?" says Paulette Senior, President and CEO at the Canadian Women's Foundation. "That's why building inclusive leadership truly matters across a range of identities—gender, race, sexuality, ability, age, and more. It's not about a checklist; it's about real progress. While the improvements have been encouraging, there's still a long way to go and workplaces have to be accountable for their efforts to grow equity in the highest positions."

The Diversity Institute undertakes research on diversity in the workplace to improve practices in organizations. The 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, Indigenous peoples, abilities and sexual orientation. Using an ecological model of change, our action-oriented, evidence-based approach drives social innovation across sectors.