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Urban League Of Greater Pittsburgh's Longtime Leader Retires, Hopes For Better City

Rebecca Reese
90.5 WESA
Esther Bush has been president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh for 27 years. She's retiring this summer, after serving in various positions at the Urban League for four decades.

On today’s program: As Esther Bush, the decades-long head of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, retires, she hopes for businesses and local politicians to make the Steel City a better place for Black residents; and how returning to the office can cause anxiety for employees of color who experience microaggressions and racism at work.

President and CEO of Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh is retiring after 27 years of service
( 0:00 — 11:00)

Esther Bush, CEO and President of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh will retire later this year, after being with the organization since 1994.

Bush returned to Pittsburgh in the '90s after spending several years away from the city.

“Pittsburgh is home,” she says. “And so, coming back home and being able to help support the institutions that made me who I am, like Westinghouse High School, Central Baptist Church, and being able to help family and friends with the little bit that I've learned to run such an institution as the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh was just a dream come true.”

Bush notes that the League and city of Pittsburgh still have a long way to go, but is hopeful for the future.

“If we look at Pittsburgh, we have every single thing we need to make it a good place for everybody to live. Pittsburgh can do better,” says Bush.

She emphasizes that all individuals, businesses and corporations can accept and should act to improve life for all Pittsburghers in the city.

“Don't just ask me what I'm doing. What supports are you putting in place?” Bush says. “If all of us did just that within our family, friends and social circles, we would be a much better city.”

Marginalized employees concerned about returning to the workplace
(11:10 —18:00)

As some workplaces move back to in-person, some employees have expressed a desire to continue working from home. Employees of color, in particular, have stated that a virtual work environment limits their exposure to microaggressions.

“It doesn't mean that the virtual environment is free from microaggressions,” explains Audrey Murrel, professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. “But what I'm seeing from some data and some reporting is that particularly employees of color, employees from marginalized groups, other identity groups were reporting feeling less of that because of the nature of the social, and the personal, and the face-to-face interactions, which they didn't have during the remote work period.”

Murrel also cautions that the work-from-home format can open the door to new methods of discrimination in the workplace.

“I’ve heard some employees, particularly from those targeted groups, commenting that they are judged differently. And so there is greater suspicion in remote work that, am I really working? And, so, how can I provide legitimacy and confidence to the person I directly report to?”

Murrel says employers need to be conscious of this phenomenon when returning their employees to in-person work.

“Organizations really need to pay attention to psychological safety,” says Murrell. “They need to understand that in coming back to work, that the issues that individuals were concerned about aren't going to go away just because we were out of a face-to-face workplace.”

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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