By Remington Sinclair

There is no doubt that the healthcare industry is a critical part of Pittsburgh’s economy and can be a driver in the push for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. That combined with an effort by UPMC — is a major reason why Pittsburgh was chosen to host this year’s National Healthcare DEI Conference, which ends today, July 20.

The conference was launched seven years ago by Angeles Valenciano, who now serves as the first woman CEO of the National Diversity Council. 

Valenciano was inspired by her mentor, Dr. Harry Gibbs, chief diversity officer at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Gibbs was determined to prepare and provide the next generation with a space and platform that would lend itself to a more diverse and inclusive work environment. 

“I want to speak to the fact that as organizations we really need to evolve into becoming ‘cultures of desire,'” says Valenciano. “What I mean by that is there has to be an understanding and a true desire to evolve in becoming not just OK or good, but incredibly understanding and knowledgeable around the differences that we know will continue to happen and to shift in our country.

“We have so much work to do if we look at the numbers today. There is a little bit of a gain in some areas, but the problem with that is organizations can organically have diversity come into their workplace. The issue is how do they keep that diversity in place? How do they promote that diversity? How do they include that diversity so that it creates a path to positions of leadership and continues to evolve?” 

Valenciano says the conference came to Pittsburgh thanks to James Taylor, chief diversity, inclusion and talent management officer at UPMC.

“As we were planning the conference, he was the first one to raise his hand and say, ‘I think the conference needs to be in Pittsburgh. We are the city of the future, we are healthcare, we are the largest healthcare provider in the country, we need to bring everyone to Pittsburgh from across the country to see what we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are at the top of our game investing in everything that has to deal with the DEI in our workplace.”

A recap of the National Healthcare DEI Conference will be available online soon.