Comcast’s David Cohen Looks at Hill, Silicon Valley and Beyond

With Cablefax’s Leaders Retreat at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, FL, slated for the end of the month, we’re checking in with some of the high-profile attendees. This week, Comcast senior evp and chief diversity officer David Cohen shares his insights on regulation, recruiting and diversity.

You spend a lot of time talking to policymakers. How do they look at cable and broadband in 2018, and to what degree will the current deregulatory mindset last beyond the 2018 mid-terms?

I think policymakers on both sides of the aisle generally understand that the cable industry has been a force for innovation and investment for nearly 70 years, supporting 2.9 million jobs in the U.S., with an average of at least 300 employees in every congressional district.  The industry’s workforce spans a range of backgrounds and skills – from engineers and electricians to coders and programmers.

We’re also all in agreement on the need for policies that keep the U.S. on the leading edge of innovation and investment and maintain our global economic leadership.  Unfortunately, despite broad consensus on what those policies should be, politics often holds us back from crafting sound policy.  The cable industry wants to see a continuation of the light touch regulation that’s allowed the Internet economy to thrive, under both Democratic and Republican administrations.  And I hope policymakers can recognize the importance of protecting innovation and strengthening investment, regardless of the outcome of the 2018 mid-terms.

There are plenty of calls for Congress to move on net neutrality. How likely does it seem right now? Can the industry and edge providers find compromise?

It is critical to continue to push for a permanent bipartisan legislative solution on net neutrality – and broader consumer protection across the entire Internet ecosystem.  Much of the rhetoric and debate around net neutrality has become focused on politics instead of substance.  There’s a general consensus among ISPs, edge providers, and consumer groups on the core principles of net neutrality: no blocking, no throttling, no unreasonable discrimination against lawful content, and full transparency.  And, it’s important to note that industry leaders, consumer groups, and policymakers on both sides of the aisle are in basic agreement on the need for substantive, practical rules.  The best way to end this chaotic cycle of political and regulatory ping-pong is for Congress to enact bipartisan legislation to permanently preserve an open Internet for consumers and provide stability to the Internet ecosystem.

Where do you feel this industry has made its biggest strides with recruiting and retention? And where are the biggest shortfalls that still must be addressed?

Recruiting in our industry has to mirror our business – it has to follow technology trends, we have to invest in the experience, and we must continually evolve.  Just like our products, recruitment is becoming highly digital, and the experience for candidates needs to follow the same principles we apply to the experiences we’re creating for our customers – making it simple and easy to engage with us, and ensuring that every interaction reflects our technology-forward culture.  That same philosophy extends to the employee experience.  Nearly 60% of our open positions were filled internally last year, which shows that the investment we’re making in developing, reskilling, and retaining our talent is a real differentiator.

As Silicon Valley encroaches on the content business, how, if at all, does this affect the way Comcast views hiring practices?

It’s important for us to continue to tell our story and highlight what makes us different – not just in Silicon Valley, but across all of our key talent markets.  We’re not just a cable provider, we’re more than just a media company, and we’re not your traditional telecom – we sit at the intersection of all of these industries.  That creates a unique environment and opportunity for how we think about the competitive breadth and depth of our workforce.  We also know that one of the critical talent differentiators we have is our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. Building a workforce that is collaborative, celebrates differences, and reflects the world we live in will continue to be the catalyst for our innovation – empowering individuals to use their unique perspectives and experiences to make incredible things happen for millions of consumers around the globe.

What’s Comcast’s overall philosophy on diversity and how it relates to profitability, customer service, and public perception of the company?

We know that diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the right thing for our business.  As a leader in media and technology, it’s important that our company reflects the communities we serve, in the people who make up our workforce, in the companies we do business with, and in the products and services we provide to our customers.

That is why diversity and inclusion are part of the DNA of our company, and that company-wide commitment reaches across all areas of our business.  This not only helps us operate with an inclusive mindset, but it also drives growth and accelerates innovation.  Diverse and inclusive teams are more creative, more agile, and more likely to create the next breakthroughs in our industry.  Our goal for the past few years has been to strive to be a model company for D&I in corporate America.  We don’t do this for public perception or recognition, but because we want to employ the best people at a company that creates the best products and content in our industry.

To learn more about the Cablefax Leaders Retreat or to register, visit our site.

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