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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. 

 

Published in Top Stories
Thursday, 27 October 2016 11:15

London’s Poor Diversity Score No Surprise

Commentary by Evelina Silveira in London, Ontario

A recent study published by the Western University's Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations found a severe lack of visible minorities in leadership roles in organizations in London, Ontario. 

While the study made headlines, the findings came as no surprise to me.  I have lived in London all my life, working as a diversity consultant for the 10 years. I would like to offer an explanation as to why inroads have not been made in visible minority leadership in  London, Ontario.

Flashback to about 13 years ago, when I started to work on a business plan for Diversity at Work: I interviewed many leaders in London asking them whether my idea of having a business which promoted hiring and supporting diverse candidates would ever fly.

I will never forget the answer I received from a human resources consultant who had previously held many jobs in the recruitment and leadership fields.  She said:  “Evelina, as long as there are enough white people to fill the jobs, no one will ever consider anyone else, because they don't have to.”

Essentially, she conveyed that there really was no need to change the recruitment process and that it was too much work to do so.

A late joiner

In comparison to other cities, London has lagged behind. Perhaps it is because the jobs could easily be filled as the human resources consultant suggested, or maybe we ignore the ever-growing presence of visible minorities which started in the mid-1980's. 

Some of our largest employers and institutions have only recently developed diversity policies, later than their counterparts in other comparable cities which have a high number of visible minorities and immigrants. I often scan the diversity plans of the public service organizations in London and it would appear that the effort or the kind of approach being used – if at all – are not producing  much in terms of achieving a representative workforce, let alone diversity in leadership. 

My observations are consistent with the findings which indicate a very low level of visible minority participation, notably 5.3 per cent on agencies, boards, and commissions.  Their lack of participation at these levels can have ramifications for how services are delivered, in addition to resource allocation. 

Furthermore, there is a tendency, especially with boards, to recruit people they know, often friends and co-workers, to fill vacancies.  This can perpetuate the lack of representation and the effort to create a more diversified board and committees.

It is startling how many workplaces have not implemented the strategies and best practices that can help mitigate these gaps. How might we explain the disconnect? There are a multitude of reasons why this occurs and this is key to understanding the problem of under-representation in London’s publicly-funded organizations.

Consider these possibilities:

·         Foreign credentials and work experience are not recognized. Generally speaking, if an applicant has not graduated from a leadership program in North America or the U.K , there is a good chance their education in leadership may not be recognized.  Leadership experience from other  parts of the world may not be taken into consideration for a host of reasons, including cultural differences in how we do business and interact with employees.  

·         Effective leadership requires highly developed communication skills:  in person, in writing and over the phone.  An internationally-trained applicant is disadvantaged if they have a pronounced accent and have an indirect style of communication.  Interviewer bias can hamper heavily-accented applicants, who may be mistaken as unqualified because they speak differently.  Across cultures, there are variations in how we conduct meetings, presentations and write reports. The Canadian standards are often learned in school or through work experience.

At civic level: zero

The number of visible minorities and immigrant leaders in municipal organizations is at a glaring zero per cent! 

Given that government organizations are held to a higher standard than the private sector to have a reflective workforce, as well as to meet Employment Equity standards, this represents a failure of implementation and consequently lost opportunities for diversifying the workforce and gaining new skills and perspectives. 

With increasing job insecurity, good benefits and salaries, public service employees are not likely to leave their jobs.  Understandably, this represents fewer opportunities for external applicants to get hired. 

It would be interesting to know if the City of London has an internal mentoring program to assist aspiring leaders.  Research consistently indicates that visible minorities and immigrants find a lack of mentors in the workplace. 

Successful leaders often attest to the significance of mentors throughout their careers.  There have been some attempts over the last few years to develop internships for immigrant professionals at the City of London. However, it is hard to know if this experience translated into permanent employment with the City.

Finally, we cannot overlook bias and racism in the recruitment and selection process, although it does not probably explain the huge disconnect between the population and their representation in the workforce. In my experience, if the leadership in an organization is not familiar with the business benefits of a diverse workforce, they are very unlikely to support and initiate programs which can facilitate the entry and promotion of visible minorities within their organizations.

Evelina Silveira is the President of Diversity at Work in London, a three-time award winning firm which specializes in creating inclusive workplaces and diverse customer bases.  She has co-authored two globally acclaimed books and is the publisher of the Inclusion Quarterly.

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Published in Education

by Shan Qiao (@dmaomao) in Toronto   

An annual ethnic media reception hosted by the Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne turned into chaos last Thursday when most of the journalists attending were blocked out of the venue as a result of dozens of people showing up to protest the new sex education curriculum.

Wynne’s annual ethnic media reception held at a Mississauga banquet hall was expecting about 200 ethnic media members, offering them the opportunity to talk to the Premier since they don’t usually get the chance at mainstream media events.

However, one hour before the scheduled event at 6 p.m., about 100 protestors – who are set against the new sex education curriculum that will be implemented in September this year – flocked to the venue, bringing speakers, holding signs and starting to chant for the resign of Wynne.

I left China to live in Canada for a better education for my children, not for the new sex education curriculum.” - Protestor

Protestors ranged from many different groups including ethnic ones – Chinese, Somali, Syrian, South Asian, etc., religious ones – Christian, Islamic, Sikh, etc. and community-based ones like the Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund.

“I do this for my children,” said Gu, a Chinese mother from North York. “I have two daughters, with one six years old and another 10 years old. I don’t want my children to learn such an aggressive and graphic sex education curriculum.”

She also indicates that she is raising her daughters in a traditional Chinese family and holds firm of her native culture and morality. “I left China to live in Canada for a better education for my children, not for the new sex education curriculum,” she continues.

New Education Based on Science

The protest took a sharp turn upon the arrival of Premier Wynne. After she quickly and quietly exited her car and entered a private room beside the main entrance of the banquet hall, agitated protestors moved much closer to the entrance. Instantly half a dozen Peel police officers set up a perimeter to push back the protestors.

Just about five to 10 minutes afterwards, Premier Wynne surprisingly walked out of the entrance and braved the protest, escorted by a heavy police presence, security and parliamentary assistants. The crowd again swarmed her.

“[T]he changes of the health and physical curriculum are the changes based on science… We are behind other provinces in terms of teenage pregnancy, sexual assault.” - Kathleen Wynne

“The first thing I would like to say is that I know you are here because you care about your children,” she began. “The second thing I want to say is that the changes of the health and physical curriculum are the changes based on science… We are behind other provinces in terms of teenage pregnancy, sexual assault.” Wynne managed to address the crowd while being interrupted continuously by protestors calling her “a liar” and telling her “to resign.”

“I have one more thing to say and I really want you to hear…” Wynne said, remaining calm while battling over dozens of other voices. She was unable to finish as, due to the chaotic and escalated concerns on safety, Peel police officers ended Premier Wynne’s speech and escorted her rapidly back to the venue while protestors and journalists tried to hurry behind. As a result, the police blocked the front entrance, not allowing anyone to enter because they were unable to distinguish protestors from journalists.

After a nearly 20 minute standoff, protestors agreed to leave the premises and journalists were allowed to enter to catch the remaining part of Premier Wynne’s speech at the podium for the reception.

Political Manipulation

Inside, Wynne continued where she left off earlier: “The final piece of information I want to give to parents outside is that if at the end of the day, after the parents have read the curriculum, they still want to withdraw their children from the class, they have the ability to withdraw their children from the class,” she said, stressing that it is the right parents have in this province always. “What is happening now (the protest), I believe, is the absence of some information. I hope they will take [the] opportunity to get that information.”

This is not a partisan issue. When people were shouting at me ‘no more Liberals’, that’s not the point… the point is about protecting our children.” - Kathleen Wynne

She went on to say that the political process could manipulate people. “The reality is the protest was led by a Conservative candidate. This is not a partisan issue. When people were shouting at me ‘no more Liberals’, that’s not the point… the point is about protecting our children,” she concluded.

Lou Iacobelli, chair of the Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund and a Hamilton father, argued the legitimacy to withdraw from the class, stating that he is still in court, along with many other parents, after nearly two years of legally battling against Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

“Parents are taking the school board to court to withdraw their children from curriculum that contradicts their faith,” he said. “They are not respecting parental rights and religious freedom or otherwise they would have reached out and end the court case.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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