With Diversity Week upon us, no doubt you’ll hear the usual grumbling that cable still pays lip service to hiring, retaining and promoting minorities.
Sorry, I don’t buy it. Just look at what is happening on cable org charts. For example, Cox Communications’ SVP and chief people officer Mae Douglas can point to her company being No. 25 on DiversityInc magazine’s list of the top 50 companies notable for their minority hiring practices.
Comcast appears on that list, in addition to being on Black MBA Magazine’s list of the top 50 companies for black MBAs to work, Essence’s list of the 25 best places to work and Latina Style’s list of the top 50 companies for Latinas to work, a company spokesman says.
Cable MSOs and programmers have done much work on many fronts to make diversity hiring a corporate mandate. At MTV Networks one of the hats Marva Smalls wears is EVP of global inclusion strategy. "We all benefit from the diversity of a melting pot," she says. Smalls created a now 10-month-old diversity cabinet that is comprised of employees with the title of VP or above; it meets every six weeks to ensure that a culture of inclusiveness prevails internally, externally and on the TV screen.
The Weather Channel has a diversity council as well, says SVP of human resources Lisa Chang. At the executive committee level of Weather, two of the nine members are minorities, four are women.
"Asian managers, for example, think differently than others," she says. Chang’s company and the companies of all of the programming and MSO executives I spoke with have a variety of programs to reach Asian-American, African-American and women’s organizations both inside and outside the industry to recruit, retain and promote minorities.
Tales of progress on the minority hiring, retention and promotion fronts were echoed at every company I called. A&E Television Networks’ senior corporate director for staffing and diversity Bob DeFrank says two of A&E’s eight executive committee members are minorities and three are women. "We look at diversity in the big picture and are color blind," he says.
Cable isn’t just talking the diversity talk; it’s walking the walk. At the Kaitz Dinner, for instance, MTV fills its tables evenhandedly, Smalls says. MTV employees go to many different events during Diversity Week, and the company chooses not to make a show of "trotting out" people of color at that one. That’s the wrong message, she says. So when you hear people bemoaning – they always do – the lack of people of color at the Kaitz dinner, think about the difference between surface appearances and the real progress being made in the cable industry.
Veteran cable journalist and CableWorld columnist Marianne Paskowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-255-1901. She welcomes reader input, benign or malignant.