The Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey – Foreign-Born



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Improving conditions necessary to draw foreign-born workers to the region and convince them to stay is an idea gaining momentum among companies, government and others looking to diversify and strengthen the workforce and improve southwestern Pennsylvania’s economic outlook.

The foreign-born population has ample room to grow. Residents who were born outside of the United States claim only 4.1 percent of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area adult population, which is the smallest rate among the Pittsburgh Today benchmark regions.

Their perspectives of the region, their neighborhoods, social life and workplace shed light on what the efforts to attract and retain them face.

In the workplace

Nearly 84 percent of the foreign-born residents surveyed are currently working, only slightly less than the 87 percent of U.S.-born residents who took the survey.

Compared to U.S.-born workers, foreign-born workers are more likely to strongly believe there is value in a very diverse workplace. More than 75 percent feel that way. They’re also more likely than others to participate in diversity-related affinity groups at work. And they’re much less likely than U.S.-born workers to say they’ve grown tired of hearing, reading and learning about diversity.

Regardless of where they were born, few workers are impressed by the diversity they find in their workplace, although foreign-born workers are the least likely to be. Only 21 percent see their workplace as “very diverse” compared with 30 percent of U.S.-born workers.

Foreign-born workers also tend to be less impressed with their employer’s commitment to hiring and promoting minorities, recruiting a generally diverse workforce and promoting and advancing a diverse workforce in general.

For example, 51 percent of U.S.-born workers describe their employer as “very committed” to recruiting and hiring minorities compared with 44 percent of foreign-born workers. More than 42 percent of U.S.-born workers describe their employers as very committed to promoting and advancing minorities. But only 33 percent of foreign-born workers share that feeling. And nearly 14 percent say employers are not at all committed to promoting minorities compared with 8 percent of U.S.-born workers who feel the same.

Significant differences also exist in how foreign- and U.S.-born workers perceive the influence of race and ethnicity on pay raises and promotions at work.

Some 39 percent of foreign-born workers feel their race and ethnicity is an advantage when seeking a promotion compared with 27 percent of U.S.-born workers. And 42 percent of foreign-born workers believe race and ethnicity influences their ability to get a pay raise. Only 21 percent of U.S.-born workers believe race and ethnicity is a factor in pay-raise decisions.

Foreign-born residents most often mention lack of advancement in their career and wages as the most important reasons that would cause them to leave the region.

In the community

Most of the foreign-born residents surveyed are not newcomers to southwestern Pennsylvania. More than 73 percent have lived in the region for at least five years and 28 percent have called it home for longer than 20 years.

Not surprisingly, U.S.-born residents are much more likely to have been long-term residents of the region. More than 73 percent of them, for example, have spent more than 20 years of their lives in the region.

The differences between how U.S.-born and foreign-born residents view the region, their neighborhoods and certain aspects of social life are often significant.

Nearly 87 percent of foreign-born residents believe that it is important to live in a diverse neighborhood compared with 66 percent of U.S.-born residents. Yet, a significant number of foreign-born residents haven’t found such neighborhoods. Nearly 42 percent of foreign-born residents surveyed live in neighborhoods they see as “not at all diverse.”

Regardless of place of birth, few residents see the region as a very diverse place. Only 26 percent of residents overall believe it is. But fewer than nine percent of foreign-born residents surveyed describe the region as very diverse and more than one-third see it as not at all diverse.

Finding people to socialize with is something that less than 15 percent of foreign-born residents say is “very easy.” By comparison, more than 31 percent of U.S.-born residents feel it is very easy to find new friends. However, foreign-born residents are much more likely to socialize with people of other races or ethnic background, the survey suggests. They are, for example, twice as likely as U.S.-born residents to invite someone of another race or ethnicity to their home and to visit the home of someone of another race or ethnicity.

Southwestern Pennsylvania can’t count on a definite endorsement from its foreign-born residents. Fewer than 50 percent say they would definitely recommend it to others as a place to live, while 61 percent of U.S.-born residents would. However, another 34 percent of foreign-born residents would “probably” end up endorsing it.


To view a PDF version of the report, click here. To view the complete survey data by category, click here. Separate sections of the report are listed below.

The Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey

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