Not for Profit Leadership: An Ecological Model for Change in the Greater Toronto Area

By Karen Everett, Laura Mae Lindo, Amonrat Saekang and Wendy Cukier.

Published by Organizational Cultures: An International Journal

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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.

Keywords: Diverse Leadership, Voluntary Sector, Ecological Model

Organizational Cultures: An International Journal, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.57-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 522.134KB).

Karen Everett

PhD Student, Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Karen Everett is a PhD student at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University.

Dr. Laura Mae Lindo

Postdoctoral Researcher, Diversity Institute, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Laura Mae Lindo is a postdoctoral researcher at Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in education from York University.

Amonrat Saekang

Research Associate, Diversity Institute, Ryerson University

Amonrat Saekang is a Research Associate at Ryerson University's Diversity Institute.

Dr. Wendy Cukier

Vice-President of Research and Innovation, Office of Research Services, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Wendy Cukier, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University and founder of the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University, has been an active researcher and advocate of diversity in business and society. She has presented and published over 200 papers and articles, and is the holder of several large research grants. She is the co-author of Innovation Nation: Canadian Leadership from Java to Jurassic Park. She has led and collaborated on a wide range of projects aimed at producing inclusive work environments. She holds a PhD in management science from York University, a Master degree in history and MBA from the University of Toronto, as well as honorary doctorates from Laval and Concordia University. She was named one of the “100 Alumni who shaped the Century” by the University of Toronto. In 2011 she was named one of 25 Transformational Canadians by the Globe and Mail/Lapresse/CTV. In 1999 she received the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross, one of Canada’s highest Civilian Honours.