COVID-19 continues to have a profound effect on our lives and livelihoods. Across Canada, we’ve united in common purpose to respond, recover and ultimately thrive – a cause for optimism. However, we’ve also been reminded in recent months that we’ve failed to live up to our declared values of equity, diversity and inclusion.
One issue we must address is the limited diversity on boards of non-profit organizations. While we’ve made good progress with women, that is not the case with racialized groups. The recent 2020 Diversity Leads report, released by the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University, found that while 51 per cent of Toronto’s population is racialized, just 16.2 per cent of voluntary-sector board directors are racialized.
In Vancouver, 49 per cent of the population is racialized, compared with 16.8 per cent of directors. A scan of websites of non-profit organizations indicates that many prominent boards have zero Black, Indigenous and people of colour or BIPOC directors.
These numbers speak volumes. A large proportion of non-profit boards simply do not reflect the talent pool, nor the people they serve. When boards don’t have directors with diverse lived experience or who understand important histories and cultural nuances of the groups they serve, can they optimally govern and address the needs of the entire community?