"Pittsburgh is a place where diversity is welcome and my contributions are valued."
Josh Stewart grew up in White Oak Borough, a small community in southeastern Allegheny County near a bend in the elbow of the Youghiogheny River. After his first year of college, he came out to his parents and siblings. A period of emotional bumps followed, but acceptance and love prevailed, with strengthened relationships as a result. Fast-forward several years: Josh and his husband, Charles, now happily live in Baldwin Borough with their young son, Thatcher. And as for the larger community?
“I have always found Pittsburgh to be a welcoming city in general,” he says. “It might not be as well-known for LGBT inclusion as some larger cities, but the strong sense of community does create a welcoming environment. We have the robust resources (Persad, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and others) of a larger city – including a first-rate annual Pride celebration -- as well as the family-oriented, tight-knit feeling of a small town. There are dynamic professional opportunities within LGBT-inclusive organizations that make Pittsburgh and great place to live and work for families like mine.”
Josh has been out in his workplace, PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., since his first day there more than a decade ago in the call center of its consumer lending business. “Along the way I have been surrounded by welcoming, encouraging and engaging managers and colleagues who recognized the value of diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” he says. “My colleagues supported my bringing my entire self to work, as well as my advocacy for diversity and inclusion at PNC. That’s what led me to my current role.”
Josh collaborates with business leaders across the company to help educate and coach employees on core concepts and best practices, and connect all employees with the diversity and inclusion strategy. He also provides oversight for the company’s 10 diversity and inclusion councils, and is president of “PNC Proud-Pittsburgh,” the bank’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies (LGBTA) Employee Business Resource Group, which creates LGBTA employee, customer and employee initiatives for the southwestern Pennsylvania market.
“Diversity and inclusion is a journey. It is important to acknowledge that not every interaction I’ve had throughout my life has been as welcoming and inclusive as it could be,” he says. “But there is always an opportunity to learn and share. I remind myself to always ‘meet people where they are.’ Only when we do this respectfully can we begin to change hearts and minds.”