Our panel of women, including single women, married with and without children, debates cable’s progress on opportunities for women and the always sticky work-home balance.
BENITA FITZGERALD MOSLEY PRESIDENT & CEO, WICT;
ELLEN SCHNED SVP, AFFILIATE RELATIONS, CBS COLLEGE SPORTS; AND
LYNETTE FINE SVP, CLIENT SERVICES, ALLSCOPE MEDIA.
CABLEFAX: THE MAGAZINE: Has cable come far enough in the last few years in terms of senior executive opportunities for women?
BENITA FITZGERALD MOSLEY: Unfortunately, the WICT PAR Initiative reflects a steady decline in the number of women holding senior-level positions within the cable industry, especially women of color, over the last six years. Industry consolidation has resulted in decreased opportunities for women, so companies must be more strategic and vigilant when considering women for these senior-level positions.
ELLEN SCHNED: Benita’s right, of course. Women in cable have made great strides the past several years, but there is still a long way to go. More women than ever are holding the top spots in programming, those incredibly important decision- making positions, but we could use more women CEOs and in the board rooms.
LYNETTE FINE: I’m a bit more positive than Ellen and Benita. While I agree there’s been a steady decline in the number of women in senior-level positions, there are more women in executive positions, junior and senior, than men. It seems to me that the majority of award dinners showcase the high-level women…not men.
CFTM: What’s been the most difficult part of balancing home and work life for you? Is it still easier for men to do this?
LF: The most difficult balance for me are the practical realities of the steady amount of travel I do. So the toughest part for me is packing, doing laundry and blending two very different lifestyles. Yes, men have it easier if they have a caretaker. If not, they have all the same issues as women on this one.
ES: True, the travel is rough, even on single women, but I think we tend to put the most pressure on ourselves, so it’s up to us to find the balance and draw limits. I think that applies equally to women and men.
BFM: For me, life balance includes work and family along with my health/fitness, social, church, and volunteer activities. While my family is always my top priority, the balance may shift in favor of work or other priorities as needed. I am fortunate, however, to have a husband who plays an active role in managing our family and we’ve been successful in integrating our home and work lives.
CFTM: What kinds of opportunities in the cable industry are not as open to women as they should be?
BFM: Women should focus their attention on careers that are typically dominated by men and are, therefore, ripe with opportunity for women such as: technology, operations and finance. WICT challenges industry companies to expose more women to career opportunities in these areas and provide the training and career development necessary to fill the pipeline with more women.
LF: Due to the success of WICT, and the support of so many good women and men in this industry, the doors are wide open for the most part. Of course Benita’s correct that we need more women in technology and it’s good to see that WICT is trying to do something about that.
ES: The doors certainly aren’t open at all the golf tournaments. I maneuver my way into as many as possible. [laughter]
CFTM: Five years from now, what would symbolize to you total equality in the workplace for women and men?
ES: Seeing more than 50% women on the NCTA opening session.
BFM: In five years, our industry will have fully implemented the best practices espoused by the PAR Initiative such that women receive equal pay for equal work and an equal number of women and men will work at all levels. And to ensure that the industry continues to grow and introduce valued services to its customers and viewers, women will have a prominent role in making the decisions that appeal to those customers.
LF: That’s right. For me, though, the best thing we could see in five years is that these sorts of questions become obsolete, and that there is a club supporting men as WICT does for women.
CFTM: What is your company doing to develop career growth for women?
ES: CBS College Sports is very supportive of growth opportunities for women. The first project I created at the network was Women in Sports Trailblazers, which honors leaders who’ve opened doors for women in sports. The company supports the initiative 200%. Plus one of the first honorees came from within the CBS ranks – the legendary CBS sportscaster Lesley Visser, one of the first female sportscasters on television and the first woman inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.
CBS College Sports also participates in the annual Women for Hire recruiting event. Plus, I’m proud to report much of the senior roster at CBS College Sports are women, including the head of operations, online, legal, creative services, affiliate marketing and HR.
BFM: WICT lives our mission to develop leaders among our staff by employing flex work, pay equity, and other work/life support policies.
Professional development is also a top priority, and we often use our own vendors to provide training to our staff in-house, and employees take part in events and programs hosted by WICT and other organizations.
LF: I’d answer that question a bit differently. The company I work for makes sure we are surrounded with support for a balanced life. That allows women, and men, to be open to new challenges, and take on any opportunity to enhance our career.
CFTM: Do women mentor each other better than men? If you’ve had a mentor in your cable career, what’s the most important lesson that mentor shared with you and that you’d like to share?
BFM: In my experience, successful women, and WICT members in particular, often feel a personal obligation to open the doors of opportunity to other women. Today’s senior-level women have seldom had women in positions above them as they’ve climbed the ladder, so many have only had the benefit of male mentors. However, men and women offer different perspectives, so each can serve a valuable role in mentoring women as they advance their careers.
The best advice I’ve ever been given by a mentor was to keep saying "Yes" and opportunities will come your way. As a result, I’ve taken a lot of risks in my career, and I’ve been amazed by the unforeseen benefits that I’ve enjoyed as a result of being in the right place at the right time.
ES: I agree with Benita, it’s not gender that makes a good mentor, it’s the individual. I’ve had terrific mentors, both female and male – Maggie Bellville and Bob Rose among them, both of whom are the gold standard when it comes to leadership and mentoring.
"Hit it and Move On" was one of the best lessons I ever got from another cherished mentor, Gordon Hastings, with the Broadcasters Foundation. Sticks with me to this day – don’t get bogged down or sweat the small stuff. But I have to admit, this is a lesson I’m still working on!
LF: I agree with what’s been said about the mentor’s gender. Mentoring is really an individual thing more than a gender issue. As for advice, my mentor shared with me that you are your best when you extend beyond yourself, and effect positive change in the lives of others.
CFTM: Did the presidential election energize women in your company?
LF: Yes it did. It was very exciting to hear everyone’s voice on the election, regardless of the party they supported.
BFM: WICT has members and staff that are reflective of American society, and like many Americans, we are inspired and energized by the diversity of thought, race, age, culture, and gender reflected by the candidates and their supporters this year. What a country!
CFTM: Are there issues that you’d like to see cable programming address?
BFM: At 51% of the population, women are the majority market and make 80% of consumer spending decisions. I would like to see cable programming recognize this fact accordingly with its programming and advertising strategies.