A year on the job, Walter Kaitz Foundation chief Dr. David Porter tells Simon Applebaum he’s pleasantly surprised by cable’s strong interest in diversity, but notes that cable lacks diversity at the top and among its owners.
CableWorld: Where has cable made the most progress on diversity during the past year?
David Porter, executive director, The Walter Kaitz Foundation: That’s a tough question, because the industry is trying to move forward on all fronts. We’re making continual efforts to diversify the workforce at all levels, that’s one place I would highlight. And look at what cable programmers are portraying on the screen. You see significant movement there as well. A lot of networks are paying more attention to what their casts look like, and who produces their shows behind the scenes.
CW: What progress has surprised you most?
Porter: In being here for a year, which has been itself a pleasant kind of revelation, what’s surprising is that so many industry people honestly believe in and support diversity. Every time we reach out to consider new initiatives, or raise new concerns, the industry listens and wants to be involved.
CW: What should the industry do now?
Porter: We haven’t reached the levels we should reach in the number of women and people of color at the very top of these organizations. Companies are making efforts in this area, and that’s the toughest nut to crack in workforce diversity.
CW: Should more emphasis go to people of color owning their own cable ventures?
Porter: That’s an issue the industry has to address as well—making sure there are opportunities available for ownership.
CW: What role should Kaitz play?
Porter: We can be a strong advocate, a voice for diversity and a resource for initiatives in several areas — workforce, program content. Another thing we can do is bring together companies of different interest with a common diversity goal, and create opportunities for them.
CW: Tell us why your industry honoree at next week’s annual Kaitz fundraising dinner is ESPN.
Porter: They made progress this year on workforce diversity, through leadership development work with NAMIC and WICT, and developing an in-house diversity council. On screen, ESPN has more diversity on-camera and more documentaries on diversity topics. They have many bases covered.
CW: Your favorite cable shows?
Porter: Doctor Who and Stargate Atlantis right now, being a big Sci Fi Channel fan. I also enjoy Psych on USA.