Not for profit leadership: An ecological model for change in the Greater Toronto Area

Despite the Canadian voluntary sector’s provision of critical support to diverse communities in the areas of “social, health, cultural and arts services” (Christensen 2005, 1), little statistical data is available that looks specifically at diversity in leadership within this sector (United Way Toronto, 2008). This paper will argue that diverse leadership in the voluntary sector is crucial due to the breadth of services offered by these organizations. We will begin by exploring Suarez’s (2010) contention that the voluntary sector is currently moving towards a more “business-like” management structure. Utilizing Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) ecological systems theory, we will illuminate the larger social impact of this shift if diversity in leadership is not explicitly addressed. Drawing on data collected in a large scale study conducted in 2011 on diverse leadership representation in the greater Toronto area (GTA), we will contextualize the problem in diversity in leadership roles through a comparison of the corporate and voluntary sectors. This paper will conclude with suggestions to help ensure that the move towards a “business-like” model of management in the voluntary sector does not result in the perpetuation the under-representation of women and visible minorities which currently plagues the corporate sector.

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