Why diversity matters

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorial
Published On Wed May 12 2010

In the Toronto region, where visible minorities will soon constitute the majority of the population, embracing diversity is not just about creating vibrant communities and ensuring social harmony.

Diversity, particularly in management and leadership roles, is also a vital component to building a strong corporate sector that can succeed in our increasingly global economy.

In a speech to business leaders in Toronto this week, Governor General Michaëlle Jean made a strong case for ensuring that ethnically and racially diverse Canadians can get a foot in the door — and have a fair shot at the corner office.

“Saying yes to diversity is saying yes to modernity, to opportunity, and to the very future of our country,” said Jean. “But saying no carries a huge price. For each time social exclusion closes a door, another door is opened to desolation, frustration, and despair.”

We already know those conditions lead to neighbourhoods full of poverty and criminal activity that drive up public costs and, ultimately, scare away business investment.

Politicians, community leaders and increasingly business executives themselves routinely state that Greater Toronto’s incredible diversity is one of the region’s greatest assets. And yet, visible minorities are still woefully under-represented in the upper rungs of corporations.

Studies have linked diversity in leadership to better corporate performance and more creative thinking. As we struggle to recover from the economic crisis, we ought to be more conscious than ever of these benefits of diversity.

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