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Reunion Discussion Topic - Diversity in Canadian Health Leadership - New CMAJ Article

Updated: Apr 1


University of Toronto researchers published an article in the March 14 issue of CMAJ entitled " Diversity Among Health Care Leaders in Canada. https://www.cmaj.ca/content/194/10/E371 The article is being shared as an item of great interest to the Vernissage Health community, where leadership development, mentorship and career advancement are our primary aims.


In the study of more than 3000 health care leaders in Canada, gender parity was present, but racialized executives (established leaders) were substantially under- represented. In Vernissage Health, a recent impact study indicated that approximately 45% of emerging leaders (impact study participants who are IHPME students and alumni) are racialized. However, this article indicates that less than 10% of health executives (established leaders) in Canada are racialized.


The issue of representation has also been addressed within Vernissage Health since it's inception in 2017. A concerted effort is made to recruit individuals with diverse backgrounds and leadership experiences to serve as mentors and established leaders in our Dialogue Series. If our emerging leaders can relate to a leadership role model and mentor that reflects their background and interest, it builds confidence and they are more apt to see themselves advancing into leadership roles.


This issue was raised by our emerging leaders in our "5 Year Impact Study" as an item for ongoing attention and was discussed by the Vernissage Health community at our recent Reunion on March 30. Two key suggestions were made at the Reunion. The first is, through our coaching and mentorship initiatives, to more actively promote the career advancement of Vernissage Health early career alumni so the racial representation at executive levels in health is gradually increased. The second is to better engage our very diverse group of mid career leaders within Vernissage Health and develop their capacities to serve as mentors to emerging leaders.


Camille Orridge, an IHPME alum and Vernissage Health established leader, provides some context to the discussion: "At the Reunion, we discussed how to help mid career racialized leaders break through the "glass ceiling" into more senior positions in health. If we can support, coach and mentor, particularly Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ mid career leaders, to successfully assume senior roles, over time, we'll create a more representative pool of established (senior) leaders. As the data in this paper shows, there is a great need to close the gap and initiatives like Vernissage Health can help move this work forward".


Stay tuned for a full report later in April about the very positive evaluation results contained in the Vernissage Health 5 Year Impact Study (for publication) and more about the engaging discussion at the March 30 Five Year Reunion.



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