With Myers leading the charge, Cox’s Northern Virginia region has shown measurable improvement in both employee morale and external engagement with the surrounding community and its customer base, allowing the region to surpass its financial plans this past year. Armed with a fierce commitment to leadership, diversity education and wealth of industry knowledge, Myers was recently named a “leader among leaders” in a survey conducted by his peers. He is incredibly dedicated to supporting NAMIC’s mission. “We have a great opportunity to better leverage the value of diversity and inclusion as it relates to but is not limited to race, gender, background, sexual orientation, generational diversity, and most importantly but more frequently forgotten, diversity of thought: character, expression and individuality,” he says.
What’s the definition of diversity in 2014, and how can the cable industry do better in the area of inclusiveness?
As written in Diversity Inc. (source Diversity Inc. website), I’d say Cox has made major strides in inclusiveness and is building the foundation for a blueprint in the industry. Few companies have the dedicated diversity-and-inclusion leadership of Cox Communications’ President, Pat Esser. He chairs the company’s National Diversity Council and consistently communicates how diversity is a critical part of the culture, values and business. He meets with employee resource groups and local diversity councils, and this year spent time with millennial employees to gain insight on their ideas about diversity and inclusion and their experiences at Cox. At his request, Cox added five millennial employees to the National Diversity Council. Esser also holds senior executives accountable for diversity results by having diversity-related goals in their performance plans. Cox redesigned its employee resource groups to support specific segments of underrepresented populations. Cox continues to have multicultural resource groups across the enterprise. The company this year also enhanced its diversity-recruiting strategy and ensured that all recruiters in Talent Acquisition were trained in this strategy, which includes cultural-competence education, social media, building relationships with multicultural nonprofits and presenting diverse pools of candidates.
What’s been your company’s biggest innovation this year?
Moving to a Center of Excellence Model to dramatically increase and enhance our customers experience with us. This strategy is essential to our long-term ability to compete and to continue to offer the new and innovated products and services our customers expect from us.
Who has been your strongest mentor, and why?
I received an excellent education from a former military officer and F-500 executive Charles “Chuck” Perry. He really stressed leadership as it relates to building your leadership organization or team. It included these six key points that I use and share today with my mentees.
Go the extra mile, spend the extra time needed to hire not good but “great people.”
Hire people who are smarter than you in some skill set.
Look for leaders that understand the value of “Emotional Intelligence.”
Build a culture that requires a qualified diverse candidate to be identified and considered for each vacancy, even if it prolongs the recruiting process.
Hire people of diverse thought and background; don’t hire people just like yourself.
Get to know your people as individuals before you start leading your people.
What qualities do you look for when making a new hire?
My thoughts on this subject are simple: Good leaders aren’t born or made; they are developed through desire and commitment to lead, serve and educate. I look for leaders who are students of their craft, first focusing on continuous improvement of their own leadership skills before they can successfully lead others. In senior leadership roles, I consider the following table stakes during the interview process. They are:
All important, but are a given. With that being said, “Job One” is for them to show a commitment to lead by example, have a focus on teaching and developing their people, encouraging, supporting and empowering them.
Name one emerging trend in cable we should all have our eye on?
Emerging trends can be viewed from several angles–good and not so good. Both can be seen as trends that we should all in this industry have our eyes on. So if I’m going to get on my soapbox and for this moment I will take the opportunity. I could talk about technology; there are several innovations coming our way. But, I’d prefer to bring visibility to the shortening or shrinking of leaders of color in mid-level and senior positions specifically outside of HR and Field Services (where it is much less of a gap). It’s the challenge of finding, recruiting, developing and maintaining mid-level and senior leaders of color, specifically women and also men to a lesser extent. We also have a great opportunity to better leverage the value of diversity and inclusion as it relates to but is not limited to race, gender, background, sexual orientation, generational diversity, and most importantly but more frequently forgotten, diversity of thought: character, expression and individuality.