HerStory shows diversity at highest level

April 29 saw the completion of the city of Pittsburgh’s month-long series on diversity and inclusion. As part of the DiverseCity 365 initiative, women in leadership positions around the city led the HerStory Discussion at the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, giving others insight into how they had shattered the glass ceiling.


DiverseCity 365 began in October 2007 as a means of increasing diversity and inclusion throughout the city. The Department of Personnel & Civil Service Commission created a taskforce to develop strategies toward this goal and establish monitoring programs.

“It is the mission of DiverseCity 365 to demonstrate commitment to equality and diversity by promoting the cultural core values that nurture diversity, eliminate barriers, provide access, opportunity and ensure inclusion as a deliberate part of daily operations at the city of Pittsburgh,” said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. “The city of Pittsburgh recognizes the challenging and long journey ahead to fully achieve diversity goals and the work continues towards improving diversity, fostering inclusion, and ensuring equal opportunity in the city of Pittsburgh.”

Beyond the personal stories told by the featured conversationalists, Ravenstahl shared what the DiverseCity 365 initiative has accomplished. Diversity recruitment efforts have led to an 85 percent increase in applications with nearly 10,000 applicants for City of Pittsburgh employment.

“DiverseCity 365 recruitment created diverse candidate pools and eligibility lists for Public Safety, Professional, Service, and Administrative positions,” said Ravenstahl. “Since DiverseCity 365 the City of Pittsburgh has experienced an increase in applications, minority and female applicants, an increase in candidate and eligibility list diversity, an increase in diverse hires and promotions, and an increase in minority and female representation among leadership.”

Whether this increase in the number of applicants has translated to an equal increase in the hiring of diverse applicants remains uncertain. The women went on to discuss what businesses and corporations should do to actually create a more diverse staff.

“Diversity and inclusion is very trendy now. It’s nice to see a diversity statement or a plan but are they doing something,” said Dina Clark, director, YWCA Center for Race and Gender Equity. “It has to be a commitment of someone at the CEO level.”

Some suggestions for increasing diversity included mandatory diversity training for employees. The women said it was important to create a work environment where diversity is valued.


“We keep making this issue of inclusion harder than it is,” said Yvonne Cook, president, Highmark Foundation. “You can strategize about it, but you just have to do it.”

“It’s really great (public relations) for a company to say, we’re working on it,” said Ola Jackson, founder, Onyx Women Network. “To make it appear as if they’re doing something they have a few people of color, but they’re not.”

Ravenstahl also honored Judith Griggs, PhD for her work at Duquesne University where she serves as the chair on the President’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion Strategies.


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