Diversity and Inclusion in Nonprofit Leadership in Ontario Report

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February 2024

The Diversity Institute and CivicAction, with support from Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate, collaborated to develop the Diversity and Inclusion in Nonprofit Leadership in Ontario Report.  The research focuses on advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in nonprofit sector boards and executive teams throughout Ontario. The survey of 8,902 senior managers and directors from 803 nonprofit organizations in 25 cities across Ontario— explored the challenges faced by these equity-deserving groups, aiming to identify critical success factors and skills required for leadership positions. The study found that 56.6% of nonprofit leadership positions in Ontario are held by women, while racialized people occupy 18.2% of nonprofit leadership roles. There was a significant lack of representation of Indigenous Peoples in leadership positions in the nonprofit sector, representing less than 3%, which is the lowest level of representation out of all equity-deserving groups.

Key findings from the report:

  • 45.5% of Black leaders report experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment.
  • 50% of Black leaders often find themselves as the sole person of their race or ethnicity in the boardroom.
  • 40% of Black leaders have contemplated leaving their board positions due to EDI issues they have encountered.
  • More Black women leaders than those from any other equity-deserving group reported that errors made at work were often unfairly held against them throughout their board terms.
  • Indigenous women accounted for 71.6% of Indigenous board appointments and 71.4% of Indigenous senior management, surpassing the gender parity goal within the Indigenous demographic. However, when asked about barriers to their advancement, participants noted that Indigenous identity, such as racism and stigma, affected Indigenous women’s participation in nonprofit boards more than did their gender identity. 
  • Almost one-half of survey respondents from equity-deserving groups with hidden identities, including those identifying as 2SLGBTQ+ or persons living with disabilities, reported needing to hide part of their identities to fit in with other board members (40.9% and 48.1%, respectively).

The report provides recommendations to help Ontario nonprofits become more inclusive, including organizational-level and individual-level considerations. Societal-level recommendations are also presented, these include government-mandated data collection on equity-deserving groups, expanding EDI initiatives, and more. The report also addresses the barriers to inclusion and provides insights into potential solutions. Download the Diversity and Inclusion in Nonprofit Leadership in Ontario Report to learn more about the study and recommendations, click here.

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