Minister uses profanity as he criticizes companies' excuses not to hire diverse leaders

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains used profanity as he criticized the lack of diversity in corporate leadership positions to a group of Windsor, Ont., law students on Wednesday.

Navdeep Bains told University of Windsor law students women aren't part of the 'golf network'

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains took part in a question and answer discussion at the University of Windsor on Wednesday. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains used profanity as he criticized the lack of diversity in corporate leadership positions to a group of Windsor, Ont., law students on Wednesday.

"One of the issues I hear from people is 'Well, we just don't have the people. We don't have the talent. We don't have the women. We don't have the diversity in our corporation. We would love to promote diversity but we just can't find the people,'" Bains told the group of about 100 people at the University of Windsor. 

"That's a bunch of bullshit."

"There is an enormously talented pipeline.… The problem is they aren't part of the golf network, they're not part of the club network, the social networks that a lot of these boards exist and operate under. So I think that's the cultural change we were talking about before."

The comments came as Bains participated in a question and answer session with students and faculty to discuss diversity and intellectual property.

Minister Navdeep Bains uses profanity when discussing corporate Canada's excuses for not hiring diverse leaders. 0:30

The minister was also in Windsor to announce $1 million in federal government funding that will add 60 new jobs at Lakeside Plastics Ltd. in Tecumseh.

The tour also comes as the government's Bill C-25 is in the Senate. The bill is designed to boost diversity among corporate directors and members of senior management by amending the Canada Business Corporations Act.

"It's a 'comply or explain' model, so corporations must have a diversity strategy. What's in that diversity strategy is up to the corporation ... they should also have targets," Bains explained to reporters after the event. "If they don't have a strategy, they need to explain to the shareholders why not." 

'You need somebody that embraces diversity'

The university had just announced it is extending the deadline to fill a hole at the top of its organization — it's looking for the school's next president.

"I think they should look for the most qualified individual that represents Windsor," Bains said about the decision. "I think you need somebody that embraces diversity, that has a vision for diversity when it comes to Windsor."

Bains, right, talks with Alan Wildeman, president of the University of Windsor who is stepping down. On his replacement, the minister said, 'I think you need somebody that embraces diversity, that has a vision for diversity when it comes to Windsor.' (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Last January, current president Dr. Alan Wildeman, announced his plans to step down by June 2018. The university was supposed to have found a replacement by February.

"I think when you're talking about diversity it's an extremely important part of the university," said John Coleman, director of public affairs at the university. "When any type of hiring is going on, diversity plays an important part of decision-making."

Fiat's successor will be a man

Earlier this week in Detroit, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne said his successor will be a man.

While he fills the top spot for the international parent company, FCA is one of Canada's biggest auto manufacturers. (Marchionne is himself an alumnus from the University of Windsor.) Candidates to replace him include Reid Bigland, president and CEO of FCA Canada.

"It is a 'he' unfortunately. I don't have any female candidates that are available to succeed me," Marchionne said during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday.

"That's not our fault. We inherited a history of development of human resources which limited choice."

With a file from The Associated Press