"CREATING PEBBLES OF POSSIBILITIES FOR LADDERS TO OPPORTUNITIES"
On June 10, 2010, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in an article by Harold Miller reported that the Pittsburgh Region was ranked ‘dead last’ on indicators of racial and economic parity in comparison to 39 other regions in the country with regard to the Black working poor and African American children. A 2012 analysis prepared by the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board reported that African Americans in the Pittsburgh Region make less than other groups in the same sector of work.
The lack of equity and inclusion of African Americans and people of color in our Region’s workforce is also quite evident at the professional level. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), nationwide minorities account for 6.71% of law firm partners and 20.32% of law firm associates. By comparison in Pittsburgh, minorities account for only 2.03% of the 395 partners and 8.90% of law firm associates based on information submitted by eight firms with offices in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh had the second lowest percentage of minority partners of the 42 cities represented in the survey.
The problems to be addressed by the Corporate Equity & Inclusion Roundtable are also evident at the national level in that the country is experiencing the largest wealth gap between whites and minorities of the last quarter century. According to the 2010 Census Bureau Report Whites have 20 times the wealth of African Americans and 18 times the wealth of Hispanics.
The Corporate Equity & Inclusion Roundtable Partners agree that the time is ripe for increased dialogue and deliberate identification and implementation of effective strategies and policies among all stakeholders which will in turn create a common brand to market the Pittsburgh Region as a region with a strong and meaningful commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
To achieve higher levels of inclusion of people of color and diversity in employment, in business ownership and in business development in the Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania Region. The Roundtable’s vision is to bring about measurable lasting change and breakthroughs in workforce diversity and inclusion and economic opportunities.
To develop and implement strategies to overcome the diversity and inclusion challenges within the corporate sector in Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania, by facilitating collaboration with key partners from educational institutions, community organizations, workforce development agencies and professional organizations collectively working toward a common goal of branding the region with a strong and meaningful commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Develop strategies for identifying, recruiting, hiring, developing, promoting and retaining more African Americans and people of color from entry level to corporate executive positions, including the “C” suite.
Create an effective campaign that raises awareness of the value and the business case of having a diverse workforce, one which the Allegheny Conference on Community Development would embrace that has measurable goals and recognition for its member companies.
Expand the commitment to develop, promote and retain current African Americans and people of color in area corporations.
Identify and implement corporate ‘best practices’ for achieving highest levels of diversity in both employment and in contractual opportunities which, at a minimum would parallel the representation of these persons within the Greater Pittsburgh Region. Best practices should include mentoring, orientation, training, communication skills,performance evaluations, etc. There should be a corporate commitment to create a pool of resources to invest, long term, into a talented diversity pool. For purposes of accountability it is recommended that the principles of workplace diversity, equity and inclusion be included in the performance evaluations of high level managers. The strategic implementation of these goals is a must for the successful accomplishment of this mission.
Identify an individual or organization to monitor and evaluate implementation of best practices and to provide expertise in building diverse cultures, and to identify ways of ensuring commitment and compliance to the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the Pittsburgh Region and beyond.
Initiate a commitment from public officials which leads to the announcement that anyone doing business with the city or county will be evaluated partially based the percentage of African Americans and people of color employed, and the number of such individuals in leadership positions within their companies. When implemented such a commitment would send a clear message that diversity must be embedded within the business strategy of area companies and corporations.
Implement a corporate version of the “The Rooney Rule” concept similar to that utilized by the National Football League (NFL), which would make standard the practice of interviewing African Americans and people of color for top executive positions, and would expand the rule so as to use it across the board for all job openings.
Implement what might be called a “Hybrid Rooney Rule” which would include in the final round of consideration firms and companies owned by African Americans and people of color before awarding construction, and goods and service contracts. Such a commitment would potentially impact the level of wealth for African Americans and people of color, and in turn positively impact their families and communities, and the economic health of our city, county and region.
Support the adoption of “Ban the Box” type policies which allow persons with criminal histories to be considered for employment and allowed the opportunity for their skills to be assessed. The application must exclude the box which historically required disclosure of past criminal conviction. (As of December 2012 seven states and forty-three (43) cities have adopted Ban The Box legislation.)
Create incentives for companies to achieve a significantly diverse workforce. There should be efforts for public recognition and accountability. (As of May 2012 Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald had begun to utilize the Rooney Rule for the hiring of top executives for Allegheny County government.)
(Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable)