Building Stronger Boards

A Study on the Diversity of Settlement Organizations in Winnipeg
November 24, 2022
1.78 MB68 pages

Boards of directors are ubiquitous in Winnipeg’s social service sector, including in newcomer and refugee settlement organizations. Existing research shows that representative boards are more connected with community issues, better adapt to challenges, and are seen more positively, which in turn increases their impact in the community. This research finds that boards in Winnipeg’s settlement sector are not representative of the populations they serve and that there are crucial ways organizations can change their governance practices to support the participation of newcomers. This participation is important in the development and delivery of services that are inclusive, accessible, and consistent with newcomers’ needs. 

In partnership with Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba, Building Stronger Boards: A Study on the Diversity of Settlement Organizations in Winnipeg by Marleny M. Bonnycastle, Jessica Praznik, Kathleen Vyrauen and Robert Daudet, delves into existing research on boards and analyses interviews with board leadership and board members at settlement organizations in Winnipeg. These organizations face unique challenges in seeking representation on boards given that newcomers are often navigating the deluge of resettlement and may not have time to volunteer while in the midst of settling and developing social connections in their new city. 

The report provides many recommendations for this unique scenario: in order to diversify boards of organizations that serve newcomers and sustain that diversity, organizations must be creative and think outside the box in finding new ways of retaining board members. This includes incentivising board participation, changing how they recruit board members and moving away from using traditional methods of recruitment to ensure representation from people with lived experience. Lastly and importantly, they should change the culture of governance and adopt anti-oppressive principles in all their work, including training all current and future board members in running meetings inclusively.