Finding Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in Municipal Government and Public Sector Organizations in Canada


Kartik KumarKartik Kumar, National Practice Leader, Municipal Government and Broader Public Sectors.


Diversity and Inclusion has been a common discussion point for many Municipalities and Broader Public Sector organizations over the last several years in Canada. As communities and populations begin to shift to become more inclusive and diverse, meeting these changing societal values and demographics will require fresh perspectives and representation at the leadership level within Municipalities and other Public sector organizations.

Oftentimes innovative leadership qualities are found within diversity candidates that can challenge the status quo to effectively impact change across a community. Typically, diversity candidates have experienced and mitigated a lifetime of adversity and obstacles. These experiences, both professionally and personally, foster new ideas, creative thinking, innovation, agility and influence. However, when it comes to appointing diversity candidates to positions of leadership, Municipalities and other organizations within the Public Sector face a number of challenges including:

●  Finding Passive Diversity Talent

●  Diversity Leadership Driven By Representation

●  Benchmarking Diversity Candidates Against Competencies and Skills

●  Creating An Inclusive Culture To Drive Performance

Finding Passive Diversity Talent

Many Municipalities and organizations see the value that diversity can bring to their leadership teams but don’t know where to start their search for this elusive talent. For many years, organizations and Municipalities unknowingly created a culture of homogeneity thus shrinking their own internal talent pipelines as a source for diversity talent. Instead, Public and Private Sector organizations must partner with external experts, such as an executive search consultant, to assist in the identification, appointment and presentation of the most qualified and capable diversity candidates for a role.

Diversity Mandates Driven Representation

One element of diversity that some organizations fall victim to is the necessity to hire a diversity candidate as a response to societal pressure. I’ve worked with many clients in my career as an executive search consultant, that believe that hiring a diversity candidate that can provide the best value to a community is the simple concept of representation.

When I work with Municipalities, Public Libraries and other Public Sector organizations – I advise Councillors, Board members and other stakeholders and selection/recruitment committees to consider three things:

  1. The benefits that diversity can bring to their communities/ organizations.
  2. Require a diverse slate of candidates.
  3. Examine diversity within the community/ organization and population to help clarify and define the best fit of diversity for a leadership role.

Benchmarking Diversity Candidates Against Competencies and Skills

Sometimes the personification and perception of diversity by selection/recruitment committees may not always align with the true values and representation of the communities they will be serving. As a best practice, a diversity candidate should be representative of the larger community in which they will serve, while also maintaining the leadership attributes required by the role.

In addition, Municipalities and Public Sector organization’s selection/recruitment committees must carefully examine what key competencies and skills the role requires. Sometimes the benchmark diversity candidate that a search committee thinks they need, does not always align with the skills and core competencies demanded by the role itself. The best fit diversity candidate is a well-rounded individual that is able to meet both the requirements for the role as well as represent the larger community/ organization.

Creating An Inclusive Culture To Drive Performance

The other caveat that Municipalities and Leadership within the Public Sector overlook when hiring a diversity candidate is inclusivity training and acceptance of new and different perspectives for other senior leaders. Inclusivity programs allow for the broader leadership team to adopt and best leverage new perspectives gleaned by diversity candidates in powerful ways. By elevating cultural sensitivities and awareness to the existing senior leadership team and creating a more inclusive culture, senior leaders can learn how to better collaborate, break through unconscious bias and support one another.

As a result, this awareness and approach to inclusivity will increase collaboration. This culture reshaping will then trickle down through the wider teams and produce better results. As this cultural shift slowly takes place, success can be measured by performance and the attraction of other diversity candidates to the talent pipeline.

About The Author.

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector, including Municipal Government and Public Libraries. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the Broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik to learn more ([email protected]) about Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada.