Pittsburgh companies discuss increasing diversity, sharing best practice

'We want to include every business'

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The Corporate Equity & Inclusion Roundtable concluded that the best way to increase diversity and inclusion in the Pittsburgh region is for successful businesses to share practices with others.

Representatives of corporations such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, PNC Bank and UPMC, as well as community organizations, committed last week to working together to identify policies that will expand diversity within the workforce.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was joined Thursday at the County Courthouse, Downtown, by several individuals involved with last week's conversation in sharing the steps that would be taken to move forward.

It became clear to Mr. Fitzgerald that there needed to be change in the region after it was named the nation's second least diverse metropolitan area by a Brookings Institution report in 2011 that examined census data.

Robert DeMichiei, senior vice president and chief financial officer of UPMC, said there are significant efforts already in place by many corporations within the region. The problem, Mr. DeMichiei said, is that best practices are not shared with others. To improve diversity, representatives of corporations must be clear in discussing what works and what does not work for the benefit of the community.

Mr. Fitzgerald said that years ago, African-Americans would leave the Pittsburgh area upon graduation because they knew they could not get the types of jobs they deserve.

"Now, we want them to know there are opportunities here," Mr. Fitzgerald said.

He said representatives of the corporate community will reconvene next year to discuss progress.

The news conference came the same day as county Controller Chelsa Wagner released a report criticizing the county's Public Works Department, saying a history of paying contractors late had made it harder for minority-owned firms to take on county business.

Only established companies with deep pockets could afford to wait months for the county to cut a check, the audit said.

That's in the past, officials said. Jennifer Liptak, chief of staff to Mr. Fitzgerald, said the administration is working hard to make contracts accessible to all takers.

"It's something we've prioritized," she said. "We want to include every business."

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Andrew McGill contributed. Jessica Tully: jtully@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1159, or Twitter: @jessalynn4.


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