Sabrina Saunders-Mosby of Vibrant Pittsburgh on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

by Kaidia Pickels
D&I Committee Member

 

As a native of Pittsburgh, the city of bridges, Sabrina Saunders-Mosby has spent the better part of her career helping others cross them.

She is the president and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh, a nonprofit membership organization with the goal of attracting, retaining, and elevating a diversity of talent to boost the economic vitality of the Pittsburgh region. Saunders-Mosby’s’ personal goal is to make Pittsburgh a destination of choice for people of all backgrounds, and especially people of color.

“The champions in my life didn’t always look like me, and for the most part didn’t,” she observed. “Vibrant Pittsburgh is the third organization that I’ve led, and regardless of the champions and mentors I’ve had in my life, I’ve often been the only black woman in leadership teams.”

Part of Saunders-Mosby’s role is to act as an inclusion partner for Vibrant Pittsburgh’s member corporations and to showcase the talents and opinions of people from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities. In her role, she encourages member corporations to celebrate the seen and unseen achievements of diverse employees and works to recommend them for job opportunities, promotions, and board positions.

Vibrant Pittsburgh offers an extensive range of products, services, and resources for member corporations that aid them in enhancing their diversity of talent, including:

  • Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Forum: A convening of D&I advocates and senior leaders from a range of industries around the region that offers a sense of place and space for the sharing of best practices, collaboration, and support in D&I work.
  • Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) Council: A collective of employee business resource group leaders from a range of industries that supports organizations with affinity groups in all stages of their diversity journey
  • Allegheny Allies: Launching soon, this group will function as Vibrant Pittsburgh’s own EBRG and also serves as a regional EBRG for small- and medium-sized companies that may not have the workforce size to dive deep into D&I work on their own.
  • Next Generation Council: A space for young leaders and up-and-coming organizations to talk about how to attract and retain diverse talent in the region.
  • Mentorship program: Vibrant Pittsburgh works to connect members with students from several local colleges who would benefit from mentorship in a wide range of industries or general professional development.
  • Social activities: Vibrant Pittsburgh’s Newcomer events and Dine-Arounds bring together new and established executives from across the region for fun events and networking opportunities.

Noting that Pittsburgh in particular is one of the least diverse metropolitan areas in the US, Saunders-Mosby spoke on how our communities can help amplify diversity efforts. One way is to invest in a regional D&I strategy such as the Vibrant Index Report, which reviews current D&I efforts, identifies opportunities for greater impact, and shares what is already working with a larger audience.

“We measure what matters, and what matters gets done,” said Saunders-Mosby.

Already in its second year, the Vibrant Index Report this year called for a continued and renewed commitment to data gathering efforts. Its diagnostic tool is available to any regional business that wants to participate and is free, confidential, and results in a report that is provided back to the organization. This year’s report had nearly double the questions, and organizational participation increased by 56% from last year.

Saunders-Mosby also took questions from PRSA members that related to support diversity in the workplace. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Companies can show allyship in a number of ways. While representation does matter, short-term and surface-level actions can come off as performative. Where things need to start is having genuine, authentic reflection on your company’s commitment to diverse talent — and ask plenty of questions.
  • Companies looking to better support diverse employees, especially those with different faith traditions, should ask themselves if they are offering flexible time to their workers to allow them to observe holidays that are important to them, and also make efforts to educate other employees on how everyone can be more inclusive.
  • More junior-level professionals may find it challenging to hold their seniors accountable to D&I practices. However, it’s powerful to ask questions and inquire whenever you can (in interviews, strategy conversations, and even performance evaluations) to check in on how your company’s commitments are going.

Lastly, Saunders-Mosby offered some tips specific to PR professionals for better engaging with diversity and inclusion:

  • Relationships matter. Make genuine connections and continue to nurture them in order to build a bigger, more diverse network for yourself and those around you.
  • Diversify your own network. Look around and ask yourself, “How diverse is it?”
  • Educate yourself through discussions, research, and webinars (perhaps even like this one!)
  • Ask yourself, “Is there a significant area of sameness that I gravitate to?” Then, challenge this.
  • Surround yourself with different professionals from whom you can learn and who you can support and uplight in their professional journeys.

Interested in learning more? Visit http://vibrantpittsburgh.org/ to learn how you or your organization can get involved.

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