Evidence of meeting #106 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was board.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Christina Loewen  Executive Director, Opera.ca
Alexandra Badzak  Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ottawa Art Gallery
Adrian Burns  Chair, Board of Trustees, National Arts Centre
Jack Hayden  Chair, Board of Govenors, Rosebud School of the Arts
Johann Zietsman  President and Chief Executive Officer, Arts Commons
Christina Franc  Executive Director, Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions
Martin Théberge  President, Fédération culturelle canadienne-française
Marie-Christine Morin  Acting Executive Director, Fédération culturelle canadienne-française

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

Good morning, everyone.

Welcome. Today we're beginning a new study and ending a study, all in the same day. Today it's new beginnings. Right now, we're starting our study on gender parity on the boards and at senior leadership levels of Canadian artistic and cultural organizations.

We are beginning with three witnesses. We have Ms. Loewen from Opera.ca, Ms. Badzak from the Ottawa Art Gallery, and Ms. Burns and Ms. Collins from the National Arts Centre.

We will begin with Ms. Loewen.

8:45 a.m.

Christina Loewen Executive Director, Opera.ca

Thank you.

Opera.ca is the national association for opera in Canada, representing 14 professional producing companies from coast to coast, as well as affiliates, businesses, and individuals. We appreciate the opportunity to speak to this committee on the issue of gender parity and applaud this committee for studying this important issue.

Gender parity is an issue the opera sector takes as seriously as the government, and we have enacted several initiatives to effect change in this area that are aligned with many of our recommendations. I'm going to read our recommendations first, and then I'm going to tell you a bit about what they mean and how Opera.ca is responding to them.

Our first recommendation is that the Department of Canadian Heritage commission gender and diversity analysis research to better understand the scope and the depth of the problem, and share these findings. In the opera sector, collectively, we have not yet achieved gender parity among senior leaders and boards. In opera, I should say, general directors are the top leadership, and not often the artistic directors. Current parity figures for general directors is at 43%. Because we're a small sector, that equates to six women. With the exception of one, these women all lead the smallest organizations. Gender parity on opera company boards in Canada is, on average, 46%, or 90 out of 200 positions.

These figures are improvements in the past three years, as the opera sector has undergone many recent leadership transitions that have improved our parity. Three out of eight senior leadership appointments in the past three years have gone to women. We have also gathered data on parity in the sector that reaches beyond senior leadership and the board, to areas such as conductors and stage directors, where there is much work to be done in achieving parity. This is very important because this committee is studying the administrative and the governance side of things and we're also looking at the artistic leadership.

Future research will include parity statistics in all leadership positions of an opera company, to fully understand the depth of the problem. Research is essential, not only for understanding the problem, but as a key step in establishing a baseline so we can measure improvements over time, and to establish explicit gender parity outcomes or expectations.

Our second recommendation is to work with sector organizations and national arts service organizations in establishing realistic and achievable targets and timelines for achieving gender parity, if adopting a quota model or Norwegian approach. As a membership association representing the opera sector, we are focused on change in gender parity and are in the process of not only declaring change initiatives, but also establishing targets and timelines for the sector that can be agreed upon by member companies. We're doing this because we understand the importance of having action plans, targets, and timelines behind declarations of change.

However, as a membership-based association, we focus on incentivizing change as we lack levers for mandating it, but understand that the Department of Canadian Heritage, as a funder, might choose a quota approach. This recommendation requests that if a quota model is being considered, the Department of Canadian Heritage work with sector organizations in establishing realistic, achievable targets, given the fact that organizations have differing board length terms and employment contracts.

Our third recommendation is to provide funding for human resource programs that address perceived barriers to female leadership advancement, with a focus on mentorship and second-in-charge positions. The recent controversy over top jobs in arts and culture in Canada going to non-Canadians—and there was an article just in the past few months in The Globe and Mail about this—is exacerbated by the fact that these appointments have mostly gone to non-Canadian white men. One widespread rationale for this is the perception that there is a lack of qualified Canadians for these senior positions and, by extension, a lack of qualified women. Some hypothesize that the talent pool in Canada is too small, and others lament the lack of second-in-charge positions. That's a career path issue leading to these leadership positions. There is also evidence growing around gender bias with respect to what a leader looks like, which is predominantly male. That was an article in The New York Times in March.

In her recent “Canadian Performing Arts Leadership Audit”, part of a final major research paper for her MBA studies, consultant Jeanne LeSage noted that survey responses to suggestions for the sector to select, develop, and train the next generation of leaders include high scores for mentoring and second-in-charge positions.

Targeting both the perception that a leader is male and the lack of mentorship in second-in-charge positions, Opera.ca is developing a women's networking and job-shadowing program. It matches female leaders in the field with female protégées, who gain experience at a leader's side in a second-in-command capacity. Through this program, we also hope to reinforce and normalize the perception of women as leaders. This is just one kind of investment in human resources that we think could generate meaningful change in gender parity.

I have one last recommendation, which is to partner with service organizations in providing professional development and support for board governance-training in subjects like gender bias, inclusive practices, equity diversity, and accessibility training.

Despite our intentions and our efforts, we recognize that associations don't make hiring decisions—boards of directors do. Unconscious biases may exist in hiring practices. In the opera sector, boards themselves have not achieved parity. To incentivize change and address implicit and unconscious bias in hiring practices, our organization is introducing a new governance series in equity and inclusion for opera board members. This series will focus on the concept of corporate responsibility, or CR, a broadened definition of corporate governance that includes accountability to a range of stakeholders including employees, volunteers, government, and community. It will specifically study how gender and diversity on boards contribute to greater CR. This program is an example of how an investment in board training could help achieve gender parity.

As a last note, I would say that this investment could be combined with the recent announcement of training in the creation of harassment-free workplaces in the arts and culture sector.

Thank you.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

Thank you very much.

We will now go to Ms. Badzak from the Ottawa Art Gallery.

8:50 a.m.

Alexandra Badzak Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ottawa Art Gallery

Thank you.

Good morning. I'm so pleased to be presenting to you today. I am the Director and CEO of the Ottawa Art Gallery, and I suppose my voice is representative of the many municipal and regional art galleries across Canada. Some of you may have heard that we opened our doors to a new gallery this past weekend to huge success.

Many people, including the media, were positively surprised at the dominance of women in our project. I and our professional team, primarily made up of women, to our P3 private partners led by females, to key members of the building project team, pulled off an incredibly complex $100-million project. We apparently blasted through some biases of who and what it takes to get the job done.

As our organization embraces the time of transition and growth, it is timely to reflect on this transitional culture of gender parity as it relates to leadership, to what barriers might still exist in the sector, and to its impact on the decent work movement within the arts. We are certainly encouraged by the recent announcements made by Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Cultural Human Resources Council to support training and funding eligibility as it relates to a respectful and harassment-free work environments. This is a crucial step in working towards a new environment of arts leadership for the better.

According to a recent Canadian art magazine study based on the Canada Council for the Arts' recipient list of core funding, directors and curators in Canadian visual arts galleries are made up of 70% women and 30% men. This is seemingly good news, until you start to review important positions in the most powerful institutions across Canada, and North America as a whole. It's then that you see a complete reversal, with very few women in top positions and the women earning 20% less than their male counterparts. There is, unfortunately, what appears to be a glass ceiling in major institutions. There are, however, some notable exceptions, past and present, particularly in Quebec.

Steps need to be taken at the highest levels of organizations across Canada to nominate more females for executive positions. Executive search firms need to expand and put forward more female prospects, and those making hiring decisions on the CEOs of galleries and museums need to consciously check biases and recognize that expertise can be gained within Canada and in female form.

Many HR research reports I have read suggest that males come out stronger in articulating vision and exemplifying confidence and experience, thus resulting in a perception of a stronger candidate. This is a bias that our sector perpetuates. From my own experience in hiring practices, I have seen female candidates who are well equipped to lead. In interviews, they generally adopt a different style. They may assert their experience while acknowledging risk, attributing credit to others where credit is due, and acknowledging areas for improvement.

These qualities must no longer be attributed to weakness or a lack of confidence but rather to strength and the ability to honestly communicate the full picture of activities and realities. Vision is not about bolstering egos or using fancy lingo to steamroll an organization through unsustainable plans. Vision is about recognizing the unique set of circumstances that affect an organization and collectively driving an organization forward.

Across Canada, the arts sector has benefited from exemplary female leaders who have made positive changes in their organizations. Examples of these changes include rescuing galleries and museums in crisis, greatly increasing organizational capacity, building new and expanded facilities, raising major funds, and massively expanding audiences. This leadership style often promotes qualities such as shared and compassionate leadership and mentoring, an ability to embrace change and to pivot an organization to be more responsive, and a talent for providing sound fiscal management.

In 2017, the Canada Council for the Arts updated its policies and required that funding applicants commit to reflecting the diversity of their geographic community and region in organizational and artistic policies and programs. Now they've asked that we see diversity on staff and, most importantly, on the board of directors.

At the municipal and regional level in this country, the arts sector is dominated by female leaders who have risen from the ranks and have built strong ties to their community and an authentic style of leadership that often strives for sustainable excellence.

Women are leading the charge in ensuring that arts organizations establish, and maintain meaningful connections that are now being officially encouraged by our funders and our governments, and which have implicitly encouraged for decades, as not-for-profit arts organizations, a sense of accountability to their mission and communities. Yet, often, this commitment to diversity was not recognized, supported, or worse, at times, undermined by those in the leadership circle. That is a most unfortunate situation.

This authentic style of leadership, that has been recognized by national labour organizations within their decent work indicators, is becoming more and more prominent. In fact, our own organization was recognized by our work in the decent work movement through the Ontario not-for-profit network in their promising practice study.

Several of our practices were called out, including fair income and gender parity of wages; a platform for shared decision-making and ownership of planning and budgeting; flexible work environments that respect constraints around child, spousal and parental care; less contractual and more full-time permanent positions, mentorships, and opportunities for advancement; and wellness days replacing sick days.

Certainly, we know there are areas for improvement, including better health and benefit plans, as well as harassment policies that include a review of poor behaviour and practices.

In closing, I would like to echo other organizations' call, such as that of my colleague and the Canadian Arts Coalition, for you to consider the following recommendations: again, to instruct the Department of Canadian Heritage to conduct a literature review on gender parity in the arts, with attention to directors and board of directors, because the sector needs a comprehensive picture of the problem; work with the arts sector to encourage corporate headhunting firms to ensure that all executive searches include candidates who are not only female but also indigenous, disabled, queer, trans, and people of colour; encourage the Canada Council for the Arts to look to best practices, and to collect data regarding priority groups, as we really do need some comprehensive data; provide funding for human resource programs that address perceived barriers to female advancement; and provide mentorship opportunities.

Thank you very much.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

Thank you.

Ms. Burns and Ms. Collins from the National Arts Centre, please.

8:55 a.m.

Adrian Burns Chair, Board of Trustees, National Arts Centre

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Good morning, members of the committee.

Thank you for inviting me to speak to this distinguished committee today about gender parity in arts organizations at the board and artistic leadership level. Debbie Collins has kindly offered to accompany me today in case members have questions on which they wish to drill down into our organization on the human rights agenda and parity issues.

We would like to thank each and every parliamentarian here today for their kind support of our National Arts Centre.

The NAC is always pleased to speak to members of Parliament about opportunities and issues facing the arts in Canada. While we're located just down from Parliament Hill, the NAC is a national organization that acts as a catalyst for performance, creation, and learning.

Every day we collaborate with artists and arts organizations across Canada, and strive to make a difference in communities from coast to coast to coast. Our increased national role has been spearheaded by our president and CEO.

Peter Herrndorf will leave his position next month. Recognized as a leader and a visionary, he has promoted performing arts across the country.

He has also been a leader in another area, gender diversity. With the full support of the NAC board of trustees, our senior management team, of which 11 out of 21 members are women, has ensured that gender parity has been achieved.

The senior management team includes Ms. Jayne Watson, the CEO of the NAC Foundation, our private fundraising arm.

As for our artistic leadership team, five members out of seven, or roughly 71%, are women. They include Cathy Levy of Montreal, Executive Producer of NAC Dance; Brigitte Haentjens, also from Montreal, who leads our French theatre department; Jillian Keiley, from St. John's, Newfoundland, who leads English theatre; her fellow Newfoundlander, Heather Moore, who is the Artistic Producer of our National Creation Fund; and finally, Heather Gibson, a Manitoban by way of Halifax, who heads our NAC Presents Canadian music series.

In addition, three of our associate artistic directors are women.

Those women, those leaders, are part of the NAC's administrative and creative direction teams. They help us tell Canada's stories and enhance female voices across the country. They inspire leaders and future leaders in arts and they set the example for arts organizations here and elsewhere.

In addition, in recent years the NAC has maintained very good overall representation of women in its workforce. According to the last employment equity status report prepared by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in January 2016, women are well represented in all occupational groups at the NAC, and nearly half of all positions are held by women. That's above the industry average. In that regard, our performance contributes to better representation of women throughout the industry.

Unfortunately, when we look at the numbers of women as artistic directors in Canada overall, we still have a long way to go. At one point last year, we were surprised to learn that Jillian Keiley, Director of our English theatre, was the only female artistic director among the largest non-profit theatres in Canada as a result of a number of shifts that have occurred in recent years. Since then, thankfully, we have seen the appointment of a number of brilliant female artistic directors. They include Ashlie Corcoran at the Arts Club in Vancouver and Eda Holmes at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. Still, among larger theatres, artistic directors remain predominantly male.

In the orchestral world, music directors are predominantly men. However, the numbers increase at the executive director level. Of the 10 major orchestras in Canada, 60% of the executive directors are women.

In the dance community, we see many women choreographers heading companies, which they have sometimes founded themselves. However, when we look at ballet organizations, we see that women in high-level positions—such as Karen Kain of the National Ballet of Canada, and Emily Molnar, at Ballet BC—are fairly rare.

In the recorded music industry, there's significant representation of women at the executive director and artistic director levels in major non-profit music festivals, but in commercial festivals, there are very few women at the top. To have more women, more of them need opportunities for internships, apprenticeships, and experience in supporting roles. However, most organizations can't afford to invest in employees at that level, and funds for apprenticeships are limited. To help increase the number of women artistic directors, more training opportunities need to be created.

In theatre, we are encouraged that more training opportunities are becoming available. In Montreal, that training includes the new artistic director program at the National Theatre School, the HEC international arts management master's program, and there's the Queen's University master's in arts leadership program. There's another one coming in the west that I'm not yet allowed to share with anyone, and that's very good news.

Let us switch gears now and talk about boards of directors. Achieving gender parity at the board level is critical, particularly in large institutions such as performing arts centres, festivals, orchestras, and our museums. The good news is that many arts organizations in Canada are trying to address gender parity on their boards. The Professional Association of Canadian Theatre's pledge initiative has challenged arts organizations to address gender inequality, including their boards.

There's a similar movement in the Canadian music industry. As you may be aware, the group Across the Board, led by music industry leaders Keely Kemp and Joanne Setterington, is working with a number of boards on gender parity in the hopes of creating a healthier industry for everyone. That advocacy group's target is 50% women on the boards of directors of organizations by the year 2020.

We believe that the federal government is doing an excellent job of addressing gender parity on boards of arts and cultural organizations through its open application, Governor in Council appointments process. Through that process, in partnership with the federal government, the National Arts Centre has been able to recruit a remarkably talented representational board that has gender parity. It includes five female trustees besides the chair: our Vice-Chair Susan Glass of Winnipeg; Gail O'Brien from Calgary, who chairs our capital planning committee—as you know we've gone through a big building campaign; Kim Bozak from Toronto, a marketing expert, chairs that committee; and Tracee Smith, by definition a financial expert from Toronto. The terrific men on our board include Don Walcot of Montreal, who chairs audit and finance; Enrico Scichilone, un avocat, chairs our governance, nominating, and ethics committee, as well as our human resources committee. As well, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, Mayor of Gatineau, and Ottawa mayor Jim Watson are in their ex officio roles as members of the board.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is perhaps a helpful twist. In addition, many institutions at the government level have it right in their bylaws to add advisers or outside board members to their committees, much like they do in the private sector. These members have a vote at the committee level and, as you know, the recommendations of a committee are strong endorsements for a board. Our outside board members also include a number of brilliant women, including Toby Greenbaum, formerly of Public Works; Susan Cartwright, who led the public service—both of whom are from Ottawa; Elizabeth Roscoe from Chelsea; and Louise Sicuro, an outstanding cultural leader in Quebec.

Finally, Madam Chair, the NAC CEO and artistic leadership and senior management teams are in frequent touch with our colleagues from across the country, and they have sometimes assisted with questions on governance matters when we are asked. Throughout Canada, arts organizations are working to improve the representation of women at the board and artistic director level. We applaud the federal government for paying attention to this issue, and we are happy to help this important cause in every possible way.

To close, our experience at the NAC has been that a culture that values diversity is key to achieving gender parity within an organization. How do create such a culture? Well, it starts at the top. When a strong leadership chases diversity at the top—that is, at senior management, the board, and artistic leadership levels—it infuses the rest of the organization. The result is a more balanced, inclusive organization that truly reflects our society.

Thank you very much. I will gladly answer your questions.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

Thank you for all of the presentations.

We are now going to begin with the member of Parliament who started this study, whom I really have to thank her for that.

Ms. Dzerowicz, for seven minutes.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Thank you so much, Madam Chair, and thank you all for your excellent presentations today.

I'm the member of Parliament for the riding called Davenport. It's in downtown west Toronto. There are lots of artists and creators there who inspire me all the time. I hold meetings with them; I call them art strategy round tables. This issue came up at the last session, and I thought it would be good for us to study it, to figure out how we can finally get to the other side, so I want to thank you all for being here.

Why is gender equity so important in the cultural and artistic sector? Why is it important for us to have that?

9:10 a.m.

Executive Director, Opera.ca

Christina Loewen

There are a number of reasons why you might want to achieve gender parity. There is a really strong argument for parity for parity's sake. We can't ignore the fact that 50% of our population is composed of women, and yet, they do not represent positions at organizations that reflect that percentage.

There are, as Alexandra pointed out, many benefits and outcomes that people talk about, the effects that more women in positions of power might have, especially when it comes to being on boards and in senior leadership positions. People believe that women make different decisions, that having more women on boards and in senior positions could lead to improved corporate performance or corporate responsibility.

The problem with trying to define exactly why or what kind of outcomes you might have for increasing gender parity in positions of power is that 10 years down the road, you end up with a program that may or may not achieve those outcomes, and the criticism then falls on the parity initiative.

You really have to be careful. Women didn't create these problems. But, of course, the parity initiative is going to be the one that will be blamed, right, if these outcomes are not achieved. It's great to have these ideas and expectations of outcomes but, at the same time, the strongest argument is the demographic one.

May 1st, 2018 / 9:10 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

I'm going to flesh out some of the recommendations that were put forward. To me, they were excellent. Two of you mentioned the need for baseline data and further study to make sure that we have a very clear picture of the state of gender equity across the sector.

I hope you can flesh that out a little more. When I think about artistic and cultural organizations, I'm going right across the gamut. It's not only performance art; it's not only visual art. I'm thinking of the publishing sector, music, film, and all of that. It's very diverse. Are we just looking at the issue at the board level and senior leadership level, because I use the term “artistic director”. That's specific to performing arts organizations, but what should that senior leadership layer also include as you study this recommendation?

9:10 a.m.

Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ottawa Art Gallery

Alexandra Badzak

I'm not quite sure what you're asking there.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Well, if we're doing a study, who should it include as senior leadership? Artistic director isn't necessarily a term that's used in the film industry, so how can we make sure that we actually capture that leadership end?

9:10 a.m.

Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ottawa Art Gallery

Alexandra Badzak

Okay, I see.

Certainly you should include artistic directors, and then you have managing directors in arts organizations. You often have those two going hand-in-hand. Within the art gallery world, it's usually a director. It could be a director/curator position or director/CEO situation. If you want to capture that senior management level, you're going to have to go there. Often, within the smaller organizations, at least within the visual arts, your curator is your top position. You'd have to be grabbing all of those positions to get some deep data around this.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Thank you.

One of the other recommendations was to have more training for boards to really make sure that we train them about unconscious bias. My understanding is that those types of board training sessions already exist quite extensively at universities. Are you saying that the recommendation is to modify those, or that something additional needs to be created in addition to what already exists at the large universities around board training?

9:15 a.m.

Chair, Board of Trustees, National Arts Centre

Adrian Burns

I would think, Madam Chair, that additional training needs to be done. If you look at comparators in the private sector, it was not fashionable even a decade ago to have any director training whatsoever. Now it would be very hard to get a board position in the private sector if you hadn't gone through the ICD training or one of the other groups that does this across the country. I certainly feel there is room for that in the public sector and always in arts organizations.

Largely, they're volunteer positions. Probably 99% of them are, including ours at the National Arts Centre board. I think you really need to take that into account. These are not positions that people are seeking to make a living from. In that sense, you're going to get a large variety of people who really do need to be focused and trained for those positions.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

We're at 40 seconds.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

I have just one last question. If you're looking sort of globally, which country does this well from a gender equity perspective in the cultural and arts sector? Who does it well in terms of a model country that we can look at?

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

If you can just say the name, then we'll move down the line.

9:15 a.m.

Executive Director, Opera.ca

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Thank you so much.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Julie Dabrusin

We are now at Mr. Van Loan, please.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Thank you very much.

I just have a couple of very short questions, firstly, for the National Arts Centre. By my notes, 17 out of 28 members on your board are female. That would be 60%, meaning that 40% are male. Has that gender imbalance caused problems for your performance, in your opinion?

9:15 a.m.

Chair, Board of Trustees, National Arts Centre

Adrian Burns

If I heard you properly, Mr. Van Loan, we don't have 17 members on the board. That's the artistic director level, I think, that you were referring to.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

You have 28 members on the board.

9:15 a.m.

Chair, Board of Trustees, National Arts Centre

Adrian Burns

I'm sorry; I can't hear the number.