Michael Powell

Since Powell took the top job at NCTA in 2011, he’s pushed the industry to do better when it comes to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. As the Black Lives Movement sparked conversations this year, he joined an AMC Networks town hall to discuss racial inequality, telling employees that this is a moment for leaders to learn. While acknowledging there’s more work to do, Powell has frequently praised the industry for its decades-long commitment to diversity. “Nothing more embodies the industry’s solid commitment to progress than Diversity Week as well as the efforts of the Kaitz Foundation. I think it is an exceptional, committed embrace of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “Moreover, as an industry we measure ourselves and hold ourselves accountable through industry-wide surveys. We sometimes succeed and we sometimes fall short, but we at least take the test and give ourselves a grade.”

The conversation about racial injustice in 2020 has been… eye opening.

In what ways can companies best show a sincere commitment to diversity and inclusion?
In short, walk the walk. It is important to put out messages of inclusion and support for minority employees and other stakeholders, but a serious self-examination will take a much harder look and hold the organization accountable for progress. Goals should be measured. Performance reviews should incorporate diversity and inclusion metrics. And, Boards should ask hard questions about under representation at the highest levels as well as the mid and lower ranks. Finally, many problems are not the product of overt racism, but of implicit, unconscious bias that is ingrained in so many of us as a consequence of centuries of messages of racial inferiority. Businesses need programs that help us all see these unconscious behaviors.

What initiatives in our industry best embrace diversity?
Nothing more embodies the industry’s solid commitment to progress than Diversity Week as well as the efforts of the Kaitz Foundation. I think it is an exceptional, committed embrace of diversity and inclusion. Moreover, as an industry we measure ourselves and hold ourselves accountable through industry-wide surveys. We sometimes succeed and we sometimes fall short, but we at least take the test and give ourselves a grade.

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