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Diversity & Leadership

Centre for Leadership Excellence

What does diversity in leadership mean to you? This month seems to pose this question over and over.

In the recent Nova Scotia election, 30% of the MLAs elected were women (including new Cumberland North PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, a Sobey EMBA graduate). There was only one visible minority member elected, Tony Ince. There are several French-speaking MLAs.

Register now for the Leadership and Diversity Conference, June 16-17 at Saint Mary's University.


Later today, Wednesday, June 7, the 30% Club Canada meets at Sobey School of Business to address a group of Maritime business leaders, board chairs and CEOs. The 30% Club Canada is committed to building a strong foundation of business leaders to champion meaningful, sustainable change in the gender balance of board and executive committees. Its goal is to have better gender balance and at least 30% women in senior-level executive and board positions in Canadian companies by 2019. Women comprise less than 5% of CEOs, and less than 20% of CFOs/strategy executives in Canada currently, plus women make up an average of only 19% of board seats in the TSX 250.

Gender balance isn’t the whole story, though. Diversity encompasses gender differences, racial and ethnic differences, certainly. With our 50% international student population at the Sobey School, and close to the same split in our faculty, on this campus, we are immersed in a diversity that much of Nova Scotia does not experience.

Diversity goes deeper and broader than these parameters; consider diversity of ages, religious beliefs, languages, experience and socioeconomic status. There is also diversity of thought – the political spectrum is just one measure. In leadership in particular, there are different styles, from Command and Control to Servant Leadership, Transformational Leadership and more.

If you are interested in exploring what the ramifications and implications are of diversity in leadership, and the myriad ways these can manifest, you might wish to attend the Leadership & Diversity Conference hosted June 16 and 17 by our Centre for Leadership Excellence. As the website says,

“From entrepreneurialism to top level positions, diversity in leadership at present is misrepresentative of the population, and has become a key conversation in the business world. This conference addresses the issues behind diversity in leadership roles, by holding critical debates and discussions, and promoting the dissemination of critical knowledge we aim to also talk about diversity in leadership styles and the positives impacts of diversity.”

A key event will be the Canadian premiere of Why Women Need to Climb Mountains, a documentary about historian and author Gerda Lerner, a founder of the academic study of women’s history. A Jewish woman who pursued civil rights and social justice, and who was responsible for a documentary anthology called Black Women in White America: this encapsulates so much of the potential discussion around diversity.

The documentary was written, produced and directed by Renata Keller, a filmmaker, artist and graphic designer, who will be present to discuss the film.