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Pekarsky & Co. Walking the Walk around Equity, Diversity & Inclusion – Case Study #3

September 28, 2020

Calgary Public Library – 2020 Board Recruitment


The Calgary Public Library (“the Library”) is a distributed library system featuring 21 branch locations offering library services, collections, access to technology and programs to Calgarians of every age, ability, ethnocultural group and socio-economic status.


The Library’s 2019-2022 strategies aim to (1) Create opportunities to build connection, share in collaborative action, and deepen understanding of community; and (2) Be a positive catalyst for personal change and adaptation, sustaining curiosity and lifelong discovery. The focus on community libraries remains strong. Through efforts focused on inclusion, reconciliation and connection, the Library strives to promote an enhanced level of community for all within the City of Calgary. The Library’s continued prioritization of early literacy, learning and empowerment programs helps to lay the foundation for the next generation of Calgary’s readers, writers, thinkers, dreamers and builders.


Pekarsky & Co. has had the great privilege of partnering with the Library on its annual Board Recruitment since the fall of 2016. In June 2020, P&Co. was engaged once again to recruit three Directors for the Board. Early meetings were held with the Search Selection Committee to discuss the annual Board Skills Matrix Review and identify areas of focus for the current year’s appointments.


Core competencies identified for 2020 included previous governance experience in the public or not-for-profit sector; government relations, stakeholder and community engagement experience; and project management experience. In addition to, and equally important as the desired functional skillsets, the Library focused on attracting Board members who demonstrate diversity of culture and community, experiences, perspectives, occupational backgrounds, information, connections and skills to best carry out its governance, planning, stewardship and advocacy functions.


To reach a broad spectrum of potential candidates across Calgary, the Board opportunity was posted on the Library’s website in addition to P&Co.’s and on a variety of social media platforms. In addition to the 74 online candidate submissions received, including referrals from community-based organizations supporting ethno-culturalism, P&Co. targeted outreach to an additional 21 candidates (from underrepresented visible minority groups) for the opportunity.


Every candidate who either applied online or who expressed interest through our direct outreach was engaged with in a thoughtful, professional and appreciative manner. Once we determined a candidate met a number of the requirements for the role, virtual candidate meetings, via Zoom, were held given on-going COVID-19 restrictions; P&Co. carried out 30 of these interviews to further assess the technical and cultural requirements specified at the outset of the search.


A long-list of 15 candidates was presented to the Library Board’s Search Selection Committee on September 10th, 13 of whom were visible minorities, nine of whom were women. Deciding who to move forward to short-list, from amongst the exceptional group of candidates presented, was a most difficult task for the Search Selection Committee. Seven candidates, six of whom represented visible minorities, and four of whom were women, were approved for short-list by the Search Selection Committee with interviews taking place on September 16th.


This search has yet to be finalized with Board approval of the finalist candidate slate and presentation to City Council outstanding. 2020 Board appointments for the Library will be announced at the City’s Organizational Committee meeting on October 26th. As part of our recruitment process, all candidates not selected for appointment are respectfully closed off and thanked for their interest in contributing to the Library. Information on other ways to become actively involved as a volunteer with the Library is provided as volunteer efforts are critical to its ongoing success.


As one of the very few public institutions in our City serving to meet the diverse needs of all community members, the Library has taken a strong lead in its commitment to and execution of equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. With discretion, awareness and appreciation, we ensured diversity of all forms, including diversity of thought, was incorporated into our Board recruitment process for the Library. The Search Selection Committee is very pleased with the result.