A new generation is about to transform the American workplace — talented, energetic, ambitious hires who are well equipped to meet the demands of the global business environment.

As for attracting this fresh talent, the cable industry deserves, at best, only a C grade. Competitive starting salaries won’t be the vital determinant. Drawn to companies with similar values, these new entrants are focused on work-life balance, social responsibility, job relevancy, teamwork and global connectedness. And a critical factor for children of the millennium will be diversity.

To millennials, born between 1977 and 1998, diversity matters both as a lifestyle and a workplace imperative. In fact, it has been called one of their defining characteristics, given U.S. Census projections that by 2030, people of color will constitute half the U.S. population under 30.

For this sophisticated, demanding bunch, diversity is a key influencing agent in identifying their preferred employers. And the workforce of tomorrow won’t be duped by superficial diversity in the rank and file. Millennials are sharp enough to know that diversity is a total experience in an inclusive culture where they feel welcome; have visible role models, mentors and support systems; and see opportunities for advancement.

Over the next seven years, 8.4 million Hispanics, 5.9 million African-Americans and 2.7 million Asian-Americans are projected to graduate from college, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). What is the cable industry doing to ensure that it attracts its fair share of the most tech-savvy generation yet?

NACE says 81% of job applicants in the class of 2007 visited corporate websites and 67% checked job listings there. Asian-American and African-American students were most reliant on career center and job search sites at 58% and 43%, respectively, compared to 39% for whites.

To attract top talent, companies must use the Internet to make their diversity transparent. Savvy organizations are also highly visible at multi-ethnic conferences, events and career expos to create relationships and expand their networks.

Knowing this, we might benefit from best practices used by our telco competitors. One of them, for instance, puts proof of its commitment to diversity in the boardroom and corner offices: 27% of board members and 39% of managers are people of color. Another, meanwhile, has gone on a hiring spree: 50% of new hires are people of color, compared to 29% of employees across our entire industry.

As competition for talent heats up, cable companies must be willing to integrate diversity into their culture, strategy, product lines and services. And that’s where NAMIC can help. Our annual conference offers multiple perspectives and strategies for reaching multi-ethnic consumers as well as attracting and retaining multi-ethnic talent. Our mentor and leadership development programs root out the most persistent diversity dilemmas while providing tools for professional growth.

NAMIC knows that to embrace the millennials is to embrace success. Is your company ready to do the same?

Kathy Johnson is president of NAMIC.

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