As our communities and our culture change, many businesses are placing greater emphasis on recognizing the strength of a diverse workforce as a competitive business advantage.
Image “By emphasizing diversity and inclusion, we are able to more closely reflect the communities we serve, attract and retain top talent and create deeper relationships with our customers and vendors,” said Lou Cestello, PNC Regional President in Greater Maryland.
Cestello shared these words during a recent event hosted by PNC. Each year, the organization offers a history and heritage program where keynote speakers share insights into the nation’s journey toward embracing and strengthening multiculturalism. In Baltimore, past speakers have included Juanita Abernathy, wife of the late civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, as well as Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP. This year featured University of Maryland Professor of Law and author Sherrilyn Ifill and Rev. Dr. Paul Smith, civil rights veteran, minister, educator, author, and diversity role model. The two engaged in an unscripted dialogue followed by a question and answer period.
The session, part history lesson and forward-looking instruction, was held at the Hippodrome Theatre in late February. About 100 people, including area school children, community members, local business leaders and PNC employees attended.
Rev. Dr. Smith urged attendees to “hear the sound of the genuine.” In other words, work to understand another person’s perspective, history and thoughts before making a judgment as a way of building relationships and creating a dialogue that could lead to positive outcomes.
In response to a question from a member of the audience about the greatest challenges facing the African American community today, professor Ifill pointed to the mass incarceration of African Americans and the lack of reentry support and services. She said, “Prison systems and schools provide a clear reflection of how we, as a nation, value what’s important.” She also spoke about the importance of a broader discussion on gay, lesbian and transgender inclusion as well as about immigration law.
The discussion was deep and dynamic and provided a glimpse into how individuals as well as businesses can begin thinking and working to make our community a stronger, healthier place through inclusion, conversation and action.
According to the folks at PNC, inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s part of the company’s brand and business strategy. As the company grows, so does the complexity of its business relationships and the needs of its customers. The only way to be successful is to be sure that the right people are in the right positions; listening to customer needs and developing products and services to meet those needs— whatever the income level. And, to spend time working to make the communities it calls home stronger and more stable— whether it’s through volunteerism, grants, loans or technical assistance.
PNC Chief Diversity Officer Marsha Jones stated that, “We recognize that our people [PNC employees] represent our strongest competitive advantage and our greatest sustainable resource. For this reason, we view diversity as a core value and a business imperative.”
For information about PNC, its diversity and inclusion philosophy and its open positions, visit www.pnc.com.
Darcel Guy Kimble, APR is vice president, Corporate Communications for
PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.