In the spring of 2013 DiverseCity contracted Nanos Research to conduct a first-time public opinion poll of residents in municipalities across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) on the topic of diversity in leadership.
- Reaction to current situation – Perceptions on levels of representation in GTA leadership shifted noticeably when respondents were faced with the statistic that although visible minorities and under-represented immigrant groups make up nearly 50% of the GTA’s population, they only account for 14% of its leaders. While GTA residents may not already be aware of the influence gap, a majority are uncomfortable when they learn of it.
- Economic benefits and impact – While one in five unprompted respondents cited equal representation as a benefit of diverse leadership, respondents also cited all the economic benefits highlighted by the Conference Board of Canada’s report for DiverseCity. A significant majority also saw diverse leadership having a positive or somewhat positive impact on the GTA’s ability to attract investment from other countries – making this the area in which respondents were most likely to see a positive impact in the GTA. A comparatively smaller majority saw a positive or somewhat positive impact on the GTA’s ability to create prosperity, but those aged 60 and over were more likely to do so.
- Gender and intensity of opinion – The intensity of opinion on several key questions was stronger among women than men. Women were more likely to perceive having visible minorities and under-represented immigrant groups in leadership roles as important, to think there was currently not enough representation of visible minorities in GTA leadership or in the workplace, and to see a positive impact from diverse leadership on making communities stronger, neighbourhoods safer and the GTA being a great place to live.
- Looking to the future – GTA residents were broadly optimistic about the future, with three in four thinking it likely or somewhat likely that leadership roles will be completely reflective of the GTA’s population. Respondents in their 30s were more likely to hold this opinion than those aged 60 and over. Despite this, a significant majority of respondents called for some degree of action to expedite completely reflective leadership.
Residents are not broadly aware of the influence gap, but when they learn about it, they don’t like it.
- 43% of survey respondents said that there was not enough representation of visible minorities and underrepresented immigrant groups in the GTA’s leadership. But when prompted with the facts – that only 14% of leadership is reflective of the diversity in the population – that number jumped to 61%.
- Women (63.8%) and respondents from Toronto (64%) were more likely than men (57.1%) and those from outside Toronto (57.8%) to think this was not enough representation.
Residents want to see more balanced representation by population. And they want to see it not only because it’s “right.” They want to see it because they feel that equal representation will move the GTA toward becoming a “world class city” – defined by people who live in the GTA as a centre of culture that has a well-represented multicultural community.
According to the Nanos report, the low proportion of visible minorities and under-represented immigrant groups among leaders is seen by GTA residents as a cause for concern. Not just because it’s socially risky, but because it negatively affects such things as:
- the GTA’s ability to attract investment from other countries;
- the ability to attract skilled workers;
- the ability to be innovative in business; and ultimately
- the ability to create prosperity.
What about the future?
75% thought it likely or somewhat likely that the GTA’s leadership would be reflective of the population sometime in the future (18.9 was the mean number of years it would take).
Nearly two in three respondents (64.5%) identified with statements that called for action on reflective GTA leadership. Half of respondents (49.6%) said that the GTA could move faster on this issue, even though they understood that these things take time. One in seven (14.9%) felt this was an urgent problem that the GTA needs to move forward on now. Respondents from a visible minority group were more likely to say this is an urgent problem (21.4%).