MONTREAL – More women and people who identify as visible minorities are taking on senior leadership roles in Montreal, according to a new study by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute and the Canada Women’s Foundation.

In 2019, women, who make up 51.4 per cent of the population, hold 40.7 per cent of senior leadership positions -- up 8.1 per cent from 2016, the study found.

Visible minorities, who are 22.6 per cent of the population in Greater Montreal, hold 5.3 per cent of senior leadership positions -- an increase of 12.5 per cent since 2016.

But while those numbers have increased since 2016, the report finds these two groups are still vastly under-represented when compared to their proportion of the general population.

“Organizations that have diversity in their senior leadership are more innovative, have more effective workplaces and perform better financially,” said Wendy Cukier, director of the Diversity Institute and co-author of the study.

“Despite the proven benefits of diversity in the workplace, women and racialized minorities continue to be underrepresented in senior leadership positions and this represents a lost opportunity.”

The study looked at 2,537 senior leaders across the Greater Montreal area, including Laval on the North Shore, and Brossard and Longueuil on the South Shore.

It analyzed organizations working in the government, public, corporate, voluntary, education and health sectors, arguing that diversity in leadership improves the economy by prioritizing equality and attracting talent from across the world.

“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. People need to see themselves reflected in leaders, in their teachers, their politicians and in their police officers,” said Cukier.

“We have an opportunity to attract the best and the brightest from around the world and to harness the power of diverse students, workers and entrepreneurs. It’s key to our global success as a nation.”

The study found that government agencies have the highest number of diverse leaders, while the corporate sector has the least.

“The test of meaningful equity is this: who has the power to make decisions to change the status quo for the better?” asked Paulette Senior, president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

“Building inclusive leadership truly matters across a range of identities — gender, race, sexuality, ability, age and more.”

The Diversity Institute and the Canadian Women’s Foundation are calling on organizations to hire more women and racial minorities to “to advance social equity, drive economic growth and respond to skills shortages.”

“It’s not about a checklist; it’s about real progress. While the improvements have been encouraging, there’s still a long way to go,” Senior said.

The study is a part of a series that analyzes diversity in Canada’s major cities, which is set to be launched in January.