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Can Pittsburgh be the Next DiverCity?

By Carlos Tribino

Thought Leader

How diversified is your talent? How much cultural variety and richness is there among your engineers, product designers, operators, sales teams, C-suite? This continues to be a challenge for many Pittsburgh companies, let alone Pittsburgh tech companies. Surely we’ve come a long way, where we are seeing female founders and CEOs, as we do see them from Turkey, Guatemala and any part of our planet.

And that’s great and encouraging. But a lot of work remains to be done to continue on this path.

Diversity in the workforce is a lot more than lip service or sending a politically correct message. Diversity has been proven again and again to add richness, results and tangible value to the table. This town has plenty of disruptive companies that are changing the game across various industries. And disruption, by definition, does not come from the status quo. It comes from a desire to do things differently with a purpose to improve the status quo. A diverse workforce will bring different perspectives, different points of view, a commitment to challenge the establishment, all stemming largely from different cultures with different life and professional experiences. And it is this realization that has the most forward-thinking tech companies scrambling to inject more diversity into their talent pools.

Companies are rethinking their brands to appeal to and attract more diverse talent. As the founder of a local branding and marketing firm, we often get approached by companies with requests to develop or update their brands, their positioning, their logos or their digital strategies, as the case may be. But we are beginning to see requests from prospects and/or clients looking to position their brands as embracers of diversity in order to tap into a talent pool that they realize will bring more value.

This past September 15th marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, and some local companies made a point of not just joining but leading the celebration. PNC held a Hispanic Heritage Month event at their headquarters auditorium with guest speaker José Manuel Calderón, former Spanish NBA player and current advisor to the Cleveland Cavaliers, to discuss his experiences migrating to the U.S. and moving across teams and cities within the country.

Touching on the benefits, pitfalls, opportunities and lessons learned from coming to a foreign country and rebuilding their careers in a new land, here are some interesting insights for both immigrants and locals alike:

Tech consultancy Sngular, with a majority of employees in towns from Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Puerto Rico and geographically and/or culturally similar destinations, held a panel with local Hispanic leaders discussing the benefits of spicing up your workforce with Hispanic talent. Latin America has become a major destination for outsourced tech talent, led by Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica. There is an opportunity to tap into that talent not just by outsourcing, but by bringing it internally into your teams.

Think about one of Pittsburgh’s most visible success stories, a brand we’re all too familiar with and the only Pittsburgh company to make the list of AdAge’s top 100 U.S. brands – Duolingo. It was founded by an immigrant from Guatemala, Luis von Ahn. How many Luis von Ahns could we have here and how much value could they bring to town?

The benefits of diversity are as clear as the challenges of obtaining it. In Pittsburgh, this is currently still a bit of an uphill battle. But most worthwhile things are not easy. Just like this “Rust Belt” town has risen to the challenge of reinventing itself into a major force in tech and healthcare, embrace the challenge of being the next DiverCity!