Business community participates in Big Table discussions around Pittsburgh
Julia Mericle, Pittsburgh Business Times (PA)
A group of 10 Pittsburghers shared lunch around a table at the Comcast Corporation (NYSE: CCZ) facility in McKees Rocks Wednesday and talked about how to connect and support the local Latino, Hispanic and immigrant communities. Over 50 Pittsburghers gathered at PwC’s offices to discuss ways to rebuild religious support after the Tree of Life shooting.
And at various other tables throughout the city Pittsburghers gathered for conversations touching on acknowledging mental health, supporting diversity and inclusion in workplaces, coming together to pick up litter and getting to know their local elected officials.
The dialogues were part of Pittsburgh’s first Big Table event hosted by Leadership Pittsburgh. The free initiative— which has run in other cities including Louisville, Chicago and Columbus— attracted over 250 hosting individuals or organizations and about 4,000 individual participants.
The groups joined together to ask, “How can we build stronger, connected communities?”
Hosts included PwC, Comcast, the Allegheny County Executive’s office, University of Pittsburgh, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Libraries, the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, Wigle Whiskey, Rose Schneider YMCA and the Pittsburgh Business Times, among many others.
For Yvonne Campos, representing the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, it can start with something as simple as changing the catering for events like this one from the Chipotle that Comcast served to a locally-owned restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Hispanic community.
“It is about partnering with all the other organizations,” said Campos. “…We need to come together as a group to support each other and collaborate where we can.”
Participants in the conversation at Comcast included Laura Perkins, of Casa San Jose, and Sister Linda Yankoski, of the Holy Family Institute.
Comcast employees spoke of their current community outreach work including work with the Unidos program, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy program, and Internet Essentials, a program that aims to provide internet access to low-income children. Comcast employees also asked those in the room how large businesses like themselves can be more helpful to the communities they are based in.
Ideas included internship programs for a diverse pool or young people and partnerships with diverse chambers of commerce.
Justin Kaufman, Pittsburgh Office Managing Partner at PwC, said the Big Table event at his company consisted of a mix of both employees and community leaders. Kaufman said diversity and inclusion are a high priority for the company and the Big Table event is a way to hear a variety of voices.
“For me personally, when I was presented with the idea of the Big Table…I thought it was a great opportunity to invite the community into our safe space to have these dialogues and help bridge overall where we are trying to go from a community perspective.”
Yet, the community members in the room at Comcast addressed a shared concern that oftentimes these conversations in corporate settings are simply conversations. They asked how this can lead to real action in the business community.
“Sometimes corporations have these resources groups, and it’s a matter of getting together but they don’t’ really do anything,” said Campos.
While specific actions from the Big Table event are still in the brainstorming phase, representatives from both Comcast and PwC said this would not be “a one and done” conversation.
PMAHCC was invited to the table by: