Affirmative action could soon be on its way out the door thanks to a challenge currently being considered in the Supreme Court. However, while the Supreme Court has yet to decide whether or not to overturn the policy aimed at increasing African-American inclusion in education and employment, many employers have already abandoned the concept.

DIVERSECITY 365—Tamiko Stanley welcomes city employees and area diversity administrators to the Inclusion Series. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

In its stead are diversity initiatives, a concept designed to encompass inclusion among varying social differences ranging from age group and gender to communication and work styles.

“Diversity programs were being proactive in preparing for the possible elimination of affirmative action and putting a positive spin on being inclusive on purpose,” said Tamiko Stanley, the City of Pittsburgh’s assistant director and equal employment opportunity officer for the department of personnel and civil service commission.

On Oct. 25, the City of Pittsburgh held their Annual Fall Inclusion Series. The event was part of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s DiverseCity 365 initiative aimed at providing access to opportunity, removing employment and engagement barriers, and ensuring the city’s realization of its diversity goals.

“Diversity is a priority which is why we’re investing in it,” Stanley said. “Diversity is key to attracting minority talent and keeping minority talent.”

The event featured three interactive theatre sessions where actors depicted diversity issues in the workplace. While the series heavily focused on ageism and sexism, the topic of racism in the workplace played a lesser role.

“I thought the skits were a little different. They were somewhat controversial in the way different people perceived things that go on in the office. I think they did a good job of depicting the generation gap,” said Monica Jones, manager of diversity programs for the Allegheny County Airport Authority. “When they did the skit with the African-American CEO and he thought they had enough diversity, even though everyone else in the room was White, it showed the lack of persons wanting to embrace diversity.”

With the possible elimination of affirmative action, and an all-encompassing definition of diversity, African-Americans could find themselves lost in the shuffle. As one actor said in one of the skits, “this is about diversity, not affirmative action.” However, instead of being concerned with the ever-growing definition of diversity, many African-Americans are embracing it.

“They were excellent at bringing out underlying issues in diversity and inclusion,” said Clyde Pickett, special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion at Community College of Allegheny County. “Traditionally we have a linear focus. We see things in Black and White, but as we look at diversity we need to start opening up our definition.”

The series was presented by the Metamorphosis Performing Co. The interactive format of their programs allows the audience to gain perspective of the complexities of communication through observation, questioning the characters in the situations and discussion with the moderator.

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