Posted on May 7, 2007

Mayor Vows Push For Minority Hiring

Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 4, 2007

A city workforce that has become less diverse will soon have a new member charged with reversing that trend, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl pledged yesterday.

The hunt for an equal opportunity officer to upgrade minority recruitment is one part of a two-pronged staff shift announced yesterday. It’s billed as Mr. Ravenstahl’s effort to insert his priorities into a city hierarchy that he’s run for eight months, and recently cleared of several hold-overs from predecessor Bob O’Connor’s inner circle.

He’s also looking to hire a manager assigned to measuring city government’s effectiveness, which he said reflects the need for accountability in the 3,200-member workforce.

“It’s clear that we’re not doing as well at hiring minorities as we need to,” Mr. Ravenstahl said. “We have to do a better job, and I’ve determined that it’s through outreach, it’s through communications, it’s through marketing, it’s through having an individual there that’s solely responsible for outreach and recruitment.”

A city that is one-third African American has a Police Bureau that is 80 percent white, a paramedic service that is 87 percent white, and a Fire Bureau that is 90 percent white. All three public safety services have grown less diverse in recent years.

Recruitment of women to those roles has only been slightly better.

Mr. Ravenstahl said his administration has tried to recruit minorities through churches, and “had some success, but not the success that’s necessary to really secure the diversity that we need.”

He said he’s hoping the new equal opportunity officer, who will be paid $69,991, will bring experience in the field and knowledge of what’s worked in other cities.

Such a hire “is long overdue,” said M. Gayle Moss, president of the Pittsburgh NAACP. “We are a part of this whole business of the most livable city. Whatever the city does, we should be a part of that.”

Her biggest concern: “I just hope that this person will have the clout and the respect of his colleagues, that he will be able to effectuate change in the city.”