Women, minorities underrepresented in Montreal leadership roles: study
Women and racialized people continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles in Montreal.
And the issue isn’t a lack of qualified candidates, a new study suggests, but rather the “organizational choices” that continue to prevent them from reaching higher positions.
Organizations that aren’t reaching appropriate representation “probably aren’t trying hard enough or looking in the right places,” said Wendy Cukier, the lead researcher behind the study.
“When leaders decide this is important,” Cukier added, “it’s very clear they can make it happen.”
Published by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, the study looked at more than 2,500 senior leadership roles — including board of directors members, executive-level employees and elected officials — in the public, corporate, education and health sectors.
The study focused on Montreal, Laval, and Longueuil and included two police forces, 16 universities and CEGEPs, eight hospitals and elected officials from 14 offices.
Despite women making up more than 50 per cent of the greater Montreal population, they held only 40 per cent of leadership positions, the study found.
The contrast is worse for racialized people (all people that are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour): despite representing more than 22 per cent of the population, they held only five per cent of senior leadership positions.
Though both groups are still underrepresented, there are some signs of progress.
The findings mark an eight per cent increase since 2016 for women and a 12.5 per cent increase for racialized people.
For women, the highest representation is found in government-appointed positions (54.9 per cent), hospitals (52.9 per cent) and the education sector (47.1 per cent).
But women continued to be badly underrepresented in senior leadership positions in the corporate sector (24.9 per cent) and the public sector (36.2 per cent). They’re also below parity among elected officials, at 40.2 per cent.
Though the corporate sector numbers are low, the study shows they have been climbing in recent years, increasing by 66 per cent since 2012.
“The presence of significant differences among organizations within the same sector suggest that organizations that prioritize and put processes in place to recruit and retain women are able to find qualified candidates,” the study says. “The issue is not the lack of qualified women but organizational choices.”
For racialized people, the highest representation is found in government-appointed positions (9.5 per cent) and in elected officials (7.9 per cent). It’s the corporate and public sectors that have the lowest number in leadership positions, with both sectors hovering around two per cent.
Racialized people also don’t represent more than 20 per cent of any corporate board, the study found, and 88 per cent of boards have none at all.
“Once again,” the study says, the issue isn’t the availability of well-qualified candidates, “but rather the priority and effort that organizations put into recruiting and retaining them.”
A Canada-wide comparison of different cities and provinces will be released in the new year.
Based on initial data, Cukier said she believes it’s likely to show Quebec has made more progress than other provinces when it comes to women in leadership roles, but “much less” progress with racialized people.