Retaining a diverse workforce in today’s economy is a concern of corporate leaders in major cities through out the United States.

Pittsburgh is no different.

Addressing the issue head on, the Western Pennsylvania Diversity Initiative recently hosted a symposium with the above named title.

SPREADING THE WORD—Diversity practitioner Tiffany Taylor Smith, M.S. Ed, owner of TRTaylor Consulting Group educates Pittsburghers about diversity in the workforce.

In attendance during a presentation conducted by diversity practitioner Tiffany Taylor Smith, M.S. Ed, owner of TRTaylor Consulting Group, more than 50 Bar Association members, educators, health care and corporate officials were on hand aiming to get the tools to help empower workforce diversity within their companies. “My goal today is to discuss the best practices in diversity retention, today’s generation of employees and cultural conversations,” she said.

As good employees, she pointed out that people and workers need to understand their communication style. “How we communicate is very important.” She said that 30 to 40 percent of what a person communicates conversationally is verbal and the rest is within body language. Gesture, tone, inflection, posture, or eye contact may enhance or negate the content of a message. “Studies show body language and non-verbal cues operate primarily on an unawareness level and are more trusted than words,” she said.

With four generations currently in the workforce, she indicated that each encompasses different communication styles and work principles. Age groups are veterans 65 and up; baby boomers, 46 to 64; Generation X, 30 to 45; and Generation Y; under 30. Smith said work ethics, leadership techniques, interactive styles, communication, work, family views and feedback and reward expectancies are all different. “Knowing your communication style and how you process thoughts is important as well as personal exploration,” Smith said. “The ways you and others examine the stereotypes and prejudices you may hold about other cultural groups,” she said is good to know.

Smith also suggests engaging in cultural conversation by owning your reality, practicing listening, being open to sharing, being comfortable with discomfort and having patience with yourself and others.

An educator, coach, consultant and writer dedicated to helping people love who they are while embracing those who are different, Smith recommends that companies have in place board leadership (sponsorship and accountability), a diversity tracking system, mentoring and talent development, cultural appreciation and communication training and affinity groups.

A former Diversity, Recruiting and Training manager for Proctor and Gamble, Smith received her master’s degree in education specializing in counseling services from Fordham University and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Rochester. Presently she is an adjunct professor in child and adolescent psychology at Kean University and teaches courses in schools for adolescents on global citizenship and cultural identity.

Located in Cranford, N.J., Smith said the primary objective of TR Taylor Consulting Group is helping people leverage their personal and collective power. “We are a collection of expert business and education consultants committed to building cultural appreciation in our clients’ organizations.” Services include cultural appreciation, leadership coaching, student workshops, parent coaching and workshops, organizational culture assessments, life management coaching and team effectiveness.

Pleased with the results of the presentation, Neal Holmes, president and CEO of WPDI, said he was ecstatic about the turnout. “Participants were engaged in conversation and I am impressed how people stayed around and continued dialoging after wards.”

Participant and WPDI board member, Bruce Fox, director of human resources for Massaro Corp., said he gained insight from the engaging presentation and that such programs are much needed.

Founded in 2005 as an outgrowth of the Community Outreach Taskforce of the Bar Association, WPDI is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to facilitating diversity by providing educational, networking and other resources for employers and employees. Its mission is to promote regional economic growth by providing resources to employers in the Pittsburgh region to attract, hire and retain employees from a variety of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. The group’s three-point vision is to create a vibrant community of organizations and individuals who value diversity to provide a forum to develop and disseminate resources that communicate the importance of diversity to the region and its employees. Also to measure and publicize western Pennsylvania’s successes in attracting, developing and retaining employees of diverse backgrounds.

Holmes, with WPDI under three months, said he is thrilled the direction the group is headed.

“As a way for our members to move their diversity initiatives forward,” he said, “we are offering customized diversity workshops at their workplace.” He indicated that the workshops are at no cost because an annual on-site workshop is included with membership.

Other membership benefits include access to a network of local diversity and inclusion professionals with whom you can build relationships, share best practices and resources, and advance corporate and community diversity and inclusion initiatives that will expand the region’s economy. Holmes said through the WPDI network, educational programs, and other available resources, one is able to broaden and strengthen diversity and inclusion within their company or organization, better enabling them to attract and retain top level talent from a pool of diverse professionals.

As president and CEO of WPDI, Holmes said, “I am looking forward to helping to bridge the gap between diversity work in theory and the true practice of diversity work for organizations as well as for our members. WPDI is here to serve the western Pennsylvania area and the Pittsburgh region. We are positioning the organization to new heights of collaboration that reflects the needs of our members. Our goal is to reach out to all facets of the community to reflect the diverse population that we are chosen to serve.”

Other WPDI leadership include JW Wallace, chair; Lakshmi Gopi, vice chair; Tonya Johnson, secretary and Stephen Spolar, treasurer.

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