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Closing the c-suite diversity gap

The Smith School of Business is launching new executive leadership programs for LGBTQ+ leaders, newcomers to Canada, and more. 

[Erin LeBlanc and Tina Dacin]
Erin LeBlanc (left) and Tina Dacin (right) are two of the minds behind this executive leadership program. (University Communications)

In the coming years, the Smith School of Business will unveil a series of programs aimed at fostering diversity in the corporate boardrooms and executive offices across the country. 

The first such program launches this October, and is designed specifically for senior business professionals who identify as LGBTQ+.  

“Many LGBTQ+ business people shield their identities in the workplace,” says Tina Dacin, Stephen J. R. Smith Chair of Strategy & Organizational Behavior, and Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Smith Business School. “While significant strides have been made in LGBTQ+ acceptance in Canada, there are still barriers to senior leadership roles for members of the community. Our hope is that all of these programs will support leaders as they embrace and apply their full identities at work.” 

According to the Canadian Board Diversity Council’s 2017 Annual Report Card, the number of respondents who self-identify as LGBTQ serving on Financial Post 500 boards decreased from 2.1% in 2016 to 1.6% in 2017. The LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program aims to help turn the dial and speed up progress in this area by increasing the talent pool in this category of diversity. 

Offered by Smith’s Centre for Social Impact at the SmithToronto learning facility, this five-day program is intended to help individuals strengthen their leadership impact and work with confidence and authenticity. The five days will include speaker presentations, group discussion, exercises, and opportunities for self-reflection. Completing this course can also help students attain their Certificate in Social Impact for Professionals from Smith.

The LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program is the first of its kind in Canada, and was inspired by a similar program offered by Stanford University. There are 30 spaces available in this inaugural offering, and Dr. Dacin says interest has been strong. 

Erin LeBlanc is an Adjunct Lecturer with Smith School of Business, and will be one of the faculty in this leadership program. She was a part of the program design committee, and will be presenting on the diversity of communication, thinking, and problem solving styles. 

“As a member of one of the communities that is the focus of this program, I would have loved to take a program like this had it been available before,” says Ms. LeBlanc. “People are concerned about being their authentic selves at work for fear of reducing their upward mobility, and we hope this program will help them bring their whole selves to work without compromise.” 

In the coming years, the Smith Centre for Social Impact will also be launching programming for women in leadership, Indigenous leaders, and newcomers to Canada. 

To apply to the LGBTQ+ Executive Leadership Program or to learn more, visit ssb.ca/diversity.