Place yourself in novel situations — and embrace the discomfort. Have the courage to challenge the status quo — even if it means asking tough questions. And, most of all, work tirelessly to cultivate your authentic self — even if it exposes your faults and shortcomings along the way.
These lessons in leadership were part of the 2019 Pitt Business Diverse Leaders’ Summit, held this past week at the University Club at the University of Pittsburgh.
The one-day conference was attended by nearly 80 students and recruiters and diversity officers from 10 organizations: BNY Mellon DICK’S Sporting Goods, Eaton, EY, KPMG, PNC, PwC, Norfolk Southern, UPMC, and U.S. Steel.
“Our annual Diverse Leaders’ Summit brings students and practitioners together to fearlessly explore the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” says Audrey J. Murrell, associate dean of Pitt Business and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership. “These topics, while perennially important, have taken on supercharged meaning in today’s fast-paced, global business environment, and it is absolutely imperative for our students to understand them in order to successfully transition to the workplace.”
At the summit, students and practitioners sat down for a networking lunch, followed by individual roundtable discussions. The topics on the agenda were disabilities in the workplace, gender and sexuality, generation gaps, and affinity groups in the workplace.
The event’s keynote speaker was Joshua Stewart, vice president and director of talent programs and accessibility at PNC Financial Services Group.
Stewart, who is also a board member at the Consortium, a nonprofit education organization that supports school districts across Western Pennsylvania, shared his deeply personal story of identity and sexual orientation.
He told students that, as young professionals, they should focus on the “why.” In other words, it is not enough to know simply what you do in your job or how you do it — why you do it is pivotal and separates you from others.
“The ‘why’ is your purpose, your cause, why you get out of bed in the morning, and why anyone should care,” Stewart told the audience.
He concluded that “When you live in your ‘whys,’ doors will be opened, the pressure will be relieved, and the lights will come on.”
Following their roundtable discussions, students and recruiters shared their key takeaways from the day.
Discussion highlights included:
- Be comfortable in being uncomfortable at work, for it facilitates growth.
- Unconscious bias can exist in hiring decisions, and everyone has a responsibility to guard against it.
- People are most offended when you make assumptions, not when you ask questions.
- People should be open to asking, and receiving, questions. Openness facilitates an environment where people feel safe asking questions and where change can occur.
- The vast majority of the world’s problems come from a lack of education, be it from lacking the knowledge to solve a problem or from ignorance that causes racism and hate.
- Bring your authentic self to work every day. It’s how you will undergo the personal process of transformation and how you will overcome biases and thrive with being uncomfortable.
The Pitt Business Diverse Leaders’ Summit was organized with the help of the following Pitt Business student organizations: the Human Resource Club, Women in Business, Society of International Business, Roberto Clemente Minority Business Association, and Association for Diversity and Inclusion.
Pitt Business prides itself on offering a diverse and inclusive environment as part of its mission of taking students From the Classroom, To the City, To the World.
Learn about the school’s commitment to diversity here.