About DiverseCity onBoard

  • DiverseCity onBoard bridges the diversity gap in governance and raises the standard for modern governance. It is an internationally recognized program that provides governance training for everyone and connects qualified candidates from under-represented groups to not-for-profit organizations and public agencies, boards and commissions.

    Our governance training is provided through an online learning campus supplemented with in-person discussions and events. Connections are made through a searchable database that matches qualified individuals with board opportunities. DiverseCity onBoard promotes full inclusion, working with individuals and organizations to create effective boards and reap the benefits inclusion provides.

    Program Features:

    • An easy-to-use, self-paced, online governance training platform that is available to any individual throughout Canada or the world. Find out more about our governance training here.


    • A unique board matching service for individuals and organizations that enables pre-screened members of under-represented groups to connect with not-for-profit boards as well as with agencies, boards, and commissions of the municipal, provincial, and federal governments.


    Our matching program is available to:

    – Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples
    – LGBT+
    – Underrepresented immigrants
    – Visible Minorities
    – Women

    And coming soon, persons with disabilities. We are currently working to expand the program to persons with disabilities and ensure that our website, matching database, and learning environment are accessible. We expect the program to be accessible in 2017.

    • Supplementary training opportunities and in-person events are provided to subscribers of the training and/or matching programs. We provide continuous learning and networking opportunities including board matching mixers and webinars that dig deeper into issues surrounding governance and diversity.
  • Individuals

    Governance Training – The DiverseCity onBoard online Governance Training is available to anyone, regardless of background, anywhere in Canada or around the world.

    Board Matching – The Board Matching program is currently available to individuals who belong to at least one of the following groups and reside in one of our local program cities (Greater Toronto Area, London, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, and Metro Vancouver)

    -Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples
    -Underrepresented immigrants
    -Visible Minorities

    We are currently working to expand the program to persons with disabilities and ensure that our website, matching database, and learning environment are all fully accessible. We expect the program to be accessible in 2017.

    Our Growing Community

    The DiverseCity onBoard program was established in 2006 to address the underrepresentation of Canada’s visible minorities and underrepresented immigrants on not-for-profit boards.

    In 2016, with a decade of success behind us, DiverseCity onBoard expanded the matching program to include all women and LGBT+ individuals. While the board matching program has always been open to Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples, we are now making a more concerted effort to engage with and work with this community to address its under-representation on not-for-profit and public boards across Canada.

    In 2017 the program will expand to include persons with disabilities.


    Governance Training – Available to not-for-profit organizations, agencies, and businesses anywhere in Canada. Learn more about this unique professional development opportunity.

    Board Matching – Any not-for-profit organization, or public agency, board or commission operating in a DiverseCity onBoard network city can access board matching service that contains a database of pre-screened, qualified individuals from which to select board members, address skill gaps, and increase diversity, all at the same time.

  • Leadership plays a key role in a country’s economic outlook and social fabric. When there is diversity around the decision-making table, organizational performance improves, innovation happens and new solutions are generated. It also drives essential social networks that are the vanguard of social cohesion.

    Governance is the top tier of leadership where ultimate oversight, strategic direction, and policy are determined. But equally important are the representational roles that boards uphold. A lack of diversity at this level has sweeping implications for how underrepresented groups see themselves, their relevance and their place at the decision-making table.

    Diversity is rising and multiplying in cities around the world. Our Canadian communities, particularly in large urban centers, are hyper-diverse, reflecting a diversity of ethnicities, countries of origin, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. There are more than 1.4 million Indigenous People of Canada. Yet, while our cities and urban regions are becoming increasingly diverse and are home to many of Canada’s Aboriginal/Indigenous population, their leadership, is not a reflection of our demographic reality. Research conducted by Ryerson University in 2014 found that, on average, 12.8% of leadership positions in the Greater Toronto Area were occupied by visible minorities, compared to 53.7% share in the population of the Greater Toronto Area at the time. Women were also found to be under-represented in leadership, holding 32.5% of leadership positions while they accounted for 51.5% of the population in the study area of the Greater Toronto Area. Further research studies on the inclusion of Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples, LGBT+ individuals, and persons with disabilities on not-for-profit boards are needed.

    Our vision is to enhance the standard for modern, effective governance through leadership that reflects Canada’s communities. We want to improve the representation of underrepresented groups in leadership in cities across Canada and help organizations build strong, efficient, and diverse boards that meet the needs of their communities.

  • Our beginnings can be traced back to 2006 when the Maytree Foundation developed a solution to address the lack of diversity in leadership positions at public agencies, boards, and commissions in the Greater Toronto Area. With a roster of 100 candidates and the goal to match at least 10 per cent of them with boards by the end of the year, the program launched as abcGTA. In 2007, at the first Toronto City Summit, the program gained added impetus with louder calls for action on diversity in sectors like housing, health, and education. The province of Ontario made a $1.5 million commitment to DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project. With this, abcGTA metamorphosed into DiverseCity onBoard and became a key cornerstone of the Greater Toronto effort.

    News of our success spread globally. In December 2011, DiverseCity onBoard was recognized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group, underscoring that the program is smart, simple, and – most importantly – scalable. In 2015, DiverseCity onBoard became part of the Global Diversity Exchange housed at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University before becoming an affiliate of Ryerson’s Chang School of Continuing Education in 2016.

    Today we operate in 8 cities across Canada – Calgary, Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Metro Vancouver, Windsor, and a community of practice in Montreal – working to raise the standard for modern effective governance so that all our communities benefit from decisions made around the board table.

  • In 2011, DiverseCity onBoard was selected from over 400 international proposals to receive second prize in the Intercultural Innovation Awards sponsored by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and BMW Group.

    The award opened up a new chapter for DiverseCity onBoard and Maytree. It supports the replication of DiverseCity onBoard nationally and internationally and has resulted in a growing network of more than 30 cities working together to develop similar programs in countries around the world.

    The international community of practice is growing and already counts organizations in Auckland, Atlanta, Barcelona, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Calgary, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hamilton, London, Montreal, New York, Oakland, Ottawa, Stuttgart, Sydney, and Vienna.