Diversity roundtable continues to gain momentum

Diversity roundtable continues to gain momentum

Business, communal and political leaders met at Duquesne University for the second annual Corporate Equity and Inclusion Roundtable (CEIR) to advance the Pittsburgh region as a model for diversity.

The brainchild of Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of the Black Empowerment Project (B-PEP), last week’s roundtable included Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Duquesne University President Charles Dougherty. Stevens conceived of the idea after poring through data from the 2010 census. According to the report, only 13 percent of residents within the Pittsburgh region are non-white or Hispanic. Accordingly, Pittsburgh ranked last among America’s top 40 metropolitan regions boasting a non-white or Hispanic population.  

Disturbed by the region’s paucity of diversity, Stevens approached Rich Fitzgerald, who had not yet become Allegheny County executive, and presented the idea of a roundtable.

Fitzgerald agreed, and a working group developed.  

An early member of the group was Gregg Roman, director of the community relations council for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Roman, Stevens and others met regularly to discuss the group’s direction and roundtable’s purpose. After concluding last year’s inaugural CEIR, Roman invited Stevens to submit an application on behalf of B-PEP and CEIR to the Federation for support. Stevens did so, and the Federation agreed to fund CEIR’s second annual event.  

In addition to its financial commitment, the Federation assisted with media, communications and committee staffing for this year’s roundtable.  

“This was a significant effort, and we’re thrilled to have the Jewish Federation as our partner and primary funder,” said Stevens.

At the roundtable, various action groups reported on regional diversity and inclusion practices.  

Barry Nathan, president of Leader Business Coaching, served on a committee addressing corporate hiring practices.  

“Our team was responsible for looking at how corporations in the community can improve the situations of African-Americans and people of color in Pittsburgh,” said Nathan.  

Nathan and his team presented goals, recommendations and metrics for measuring corporate treatments toward diversity.  Stevens noted that CEIR’s intent is to bring positive attention to corporate efforts to diversity, equity and inclusion through the employment of African-Americans and other people of color within both entry level and “C-suite” positions.

“We’re encouraging corporate Pittsburgh to hire all positions,” he said, “not just leadership.”  

Stevens hopes that this effort, noted as the “Hybrid Rooney Rule,” will foster better health and wealth throughout the community.

Stevens predicts that the relationship between B-PEP, CEIR and the Federation will continue.  

“We anticipate the Jewish Federation to remain a strong partner and Gregg Roman to be a part of our working group,” he said.

Despite this year’s attendance of 300 tripling last year’s roundtable, Steven’s admitted that the work is far from complete.  

“What we’re trying to do is have a long-term effect in this area of diversity, equality and inclusion,” he said. “It’s not just to have a great event but an event that changes things.”  

(Adam Reinherz can be reached at adamr@thejewishchronicle.net.)

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