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Board diversity – is progress being made beyond gender? (panel discussion)

Author(s): Andrew MacDougall

Nov 21, 2023

It is incumbent upon the public, private and non-profit sectors to develop the talent pipeline that will further improve diversity at the Board and executive officer levels. This was a key message delivered during a Board Diversity Network panel discussion hosted by Osler.

Panelists were Osler partner Andrew MacDougall; Dr. Wanda Costen, Dean, Smith School of Business, Queen’s University; Dexter John, CEO, Morrow Sodali, Canada; and Tracey Primeau, Member of the Board of Directors, Ontario Power Generation. Lori-Ann Beausoleil, Board Diversity Network co-founder, was the moderator.

Looking for talent in non-traditional areas is a good starting point. For example, the federal and provincial governments often hire Indigenous Peoples for leadership positions, and they are also good candidates for corporate leadership. Educators in post-secondary schools are also being looked upon to help identify potential candidates. Removing barriers to education is essential to creating leadership opportunities. Two Ontario universities, for example, have waived tuition for Indigenous students who come from the traditional territories on which the universities reside.

Combatting diversity and inclusion fatigue is a challenge for those advocating for greater Board and executive officer diversity. Involving everyone in an organization in diversity and inclusion – not just CEOs and Board members, but also managers and people managers – provides for shared responsibility. Diversity advocates also need to be reminded that this is a journey which is not completed until all targets and equity have been achieved. Going into communities outside one’s comfort zone to start conservations about diversity is also important.

Watch the full video recording.