October 10, 2013
Town Hall - Advancing Diversity and Fighting Startling Predictions
By Amy Maclean
If current workforce dynamics continue in the cable industry, representation of women at managerial levels is expected to decline over the next 5 years and the proportion of people of color in those roles could stagnate at 25%. That's according to projections in NAMIC and WICT's employment survey, which was the topic of a joint town hall during Diversity Week Tuesday.
NCTA chief Michael Powell implored the industry to discuss with "spirit but a sense of dissatisfaction," declaring that the industry still has more to do. Comcast evp David Cohen called the prediction about a decline in female managers the "most troubling" in the report, though he, like other town hall panelists on stage, said they were surprised because of the trends at their own companies. "We are honestly not seeing that at Comcast. 36% of vp level and above are women," he said, adding that women accounted for 40% of 2012 promotions.
Similarly, Adria Alpert Romm, Discovery Comm's sr evp, HR & global diversity, said that 54% of the population at her company is female with a significant number of women in leadership positions. Cox evp, chief people officer Rhonda Taylor agreed that the stat is surprising, but added that the MSO has seen some of what the survey predicted in terms of turnover rates. Some of those departing execs do end up at other companies in the industry. Taylor called on the industry to make sure it looks for the best talent and not to just accept that there weren't any women or people of color acceptable applicants. Find out why not, she said. "We have to ask the hard questions," she said.
One area that the entire panel agreed does not have adequate female and minority representation is ad sales. Cohen took it further, identifying 3 other areas at Comcast that need improvement: sports (particularly for women), technical (he said that there are a number of Asians in the field that bring up people of color stats, but that blacks, Hispanics and women are underrepresented) and business services (a huge growth engine for operators).
Moderator/ CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux began the discussion by pointing to US Census projections that by 2043, the majority of the US population will be non-white. "The 2043 numbers are live for me now. Diversity is what is feeding my business," said Telemundo COO Jacqueline Hernandez. She talked about how Telemundo has evolved over the past 20 years from being just a division at a larger company to now a part of the entire company, with everyone wanting to work with it to "cross-pollinate." While the town hall focused on what cable can do internally to promote diversity and inclusion, Cohen received a hearty round of applause when he said cable has a special role to play through the images and entertainment it puts forth.
ED NOTE: This article originally appeared in CableFAX Daily. Go here to subscribe.