We know that diverse leadership supports innovation and creativity, as well as connections to diverse markets, clients, talent pipelines and supply chains. Diverse leadership is good for business and it’s especially good for public organizations that serve our increasingly diverse population.
With this in mind, Maytree and the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance launched a series of projects with the aim of changing the face of leadership in the Greater Toronto Area.
With DiverseCity Counts, we set out to put some numbers to our intuition. Over the years, we have looked at a variety of sectors in the GTA – elected officials, education, legal, the voluntary sector, the public sector, and the corporate sector.
What we have found is that our intuition was right. Our leaders do not look like our population. Just to give you one example, visible minorities make up 47% – nearly half – of the GTA’s population. And yet, when we look at governance boards, we see that visible minorities make up only 22% of government agencies, boards and commissions, 20% of education boards, 12% of voluntary sector boards, and a meager 4% of corporate boards. What’s more, these figures didn’t change much over the three years that we studied.
Now, we come to health care
Few values are as ingrained and widely shared by Canadians as our belief in and support for high quality public health care. On a societal level, physical and mental health are necessary for productive and engaged individuals and communities.
On an individual level, nearly all of us come into contact with health care services at some point in our lives, and most of us use these services throughout our lives.
Sometimes this is for preventative health care. Most often, unfortunately, we come to these services when we or our loved ones are sick. When we are sick, we are vulnerable. We are distressed. We must place an enormous amount of trust in the institutions that we turn to to care for us and to care for our families when we are in need.
This trust comes also with responsibility. The responsibility to recognize the needs of and serve all patients equitably and respectfully. The responsibility to reflect the community throughout the ranks of the institution. The responsibility to include the community in decision-making and governance.
While past Counts reports have focused solely on visible minorities, this edition broadens the scope of diversity to include sex/gender identity, visible minorities, disability, and sexual orientation.
- Women are well represented in leadership – Women make up the majority (61%) of senior management teams, and 40% of governance board members.
- Visible minorities are under-represented, but this varies widely between institutions – Only 16% of senior management and 14% of board members were reported as visible minorities. Four in ten institutions reported no visible minorities in senior management, as did nearly one-fifth of boards.
- Few people with a disability in leadership – Across the health care sector, in senior management and on boards, only 1% of leadership was reported to be people with a disability.
- Few lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer (LGBQ) individuals in leadership, with a few exceptions – About 3-4% of leadership were reported as LGBQ individuals, though this includes a few institutions that reported many individuals, and a majority of institutions that reported none.
Why it matters
It is incumbent on our health care institutions to reflect the public in its services, in its decision-making, and throughout their organizations. In fact, leading health care institutions are doing just that.
In 2010 nearly 80% of Ontario hospital boards reported board recruitment practices that aimed to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve (Governance Centre of Excellence, 2012). In this report, we looked at the current state of diversity in leadership in health care institutions in the GTA.
These leading institutions recognize the importance of understanding and responding to diversity in their patients. They have innovated and adapted their services to meet the needs of patients in various demographic groups – for example, by providing multilingual and/or culturally appropriate services. Similarly, many recognize the benefits of diversity among their staff, and have made great progress in hiring and integrating diverse employees into their institutions.
Increasingly, health institutions are turning their attention to diversity in their leadership – that is, in senior management and on the governing boards of these organizations. Leadership in health care institutions plays a critical role in setting mandates and priorities, and shaping services to help meet the needs of patients and providers alike. It is the leadership, for example, that has the influence and authority to recognize and acknowledge needs, approve systemic changes, and prioritize and commit the resources necessary to respond.
Read the full report, A Snapshot of Diverse Leadership in the Health Care Sector (PDF), or download the summary of the research (PDF).