I can picture some eye rolling at the topic. Oh boy, here we go again – more whining about diversity. Even I wondered about the topic myself. That is, until I saw the numbers.
Did you know that over 47% of the people living in the GTA are visible minorities? Ok, so now that this is on the table, look around at your organizations and see if this is reflected in the leadership. This is what the talk was about.
The epic question was asked – why are visible minorities not reflected in the workplace. First, perhaps the term itself is misleading. At 47%, they can hardly be called the ‘minority’ anymore. Maybe in the spirit of political correctness we should change the term. However, it would mean once again, separating the races. Perhaps we need to just say that leadership does not reflect the community of the GTA. How’s that?
Back to the question. In answer, panelists gave their own theories. Power was one. Another was much more simple – people like to work with others like themselves. So they choose what they know. That theory was interesting for me.
I’ve been told this many times before and I realize it’s true. When sitting on interview committees, I do look for someone who is much like myself. I like people who are creative, ambitious and honest. I admit, I veer towards those who are a bit reserved like myself. And I like people who are smart and quick. The last characteristic that enters my mind is race or sexual orientation. Because all of the qualities I listed above are not limited to only one group of people.
More research revealed that many visible minorities who were polled believed that for this to change, it would take an average of 18 years. Hmmm..... this bit of info hit a note for me.
It took me 18 years to get to the position where I am now. Many of you who are close to me will know my story. I have always said that there were only a handful of people who helped me along in my career, while there were ten times as many crabs in the bucket. I watched others who were considered part of the standard leadership pool, sail through with half the experience and I knew, it would take me more time. That’s just the way it was.
John Tory, by all accounts is really part of that standard leadership pool. So it was interesting that he was on the panel with Mitzi Hunter, CEO of Civic Action and radio journalist Matt Galloway who was the moderator. And yet, he seemed a natural fit.
He commented candidly on the responsibility the media needs to take when it comes to the result of leadership the way it is. Look at the black community, he said. The few unsavory individuals caught on camera time and time again seemed to sway the public’s opinion on what this community was really all about.
These remarks made me smile. Having grown up in a community where many of my close friends were black, I knew all too well that petty criminals were not limited to only one group of people.
After the event, I made sure that I pushed my way through the crowd to shake his hand. I wanted to tell him about my 18-year story, but I wasn’t sure how to frame it in 20 words or less. And I thought of asking him if he would consider running in an upcoming election to become one of our political leaders. But I chose to keep the conversation light and just remarked on the important work he was doing. He smiled warmly and repeated my name, accurately.
It was an inspiring lunch and a good conversation in a room filled with people who represented the GTA. All 100%.