Bankston makes her first appearance on our list. She is continuing Corning’s diversity awareness by launching an “unconscious bias” training, leading the company’s first global ERG conference, and expanding work on pay equity from beyond the US and into Asia. “There is an increasing understanding that there is a compelling business case for diversity and inclusion that goes well beyond the traditional approach of complying with laws and regulations and doing the right thing,” Bankston says. “Research has shown that organizations that recruit, develop, promote, and retain a diverse workforce experience a positive impact on financial performance, return on equity, innovation, and employee satisfaction.”
A February 2018 UCLA study revealed that of the 45 new scripted shows approved for 2017-18 across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, only four were from creators of color, all of whom were black. What is your reaction to this report?
In recent years, cable programming content has become increasingly diverse with viewers having many choices of what to watch across numerous platforms. Shows like “Black-ish,” “This is Us,” “Modern Family,” “Atlanta,” “Fresh Off the Boat” and others are just a few examples. While we have made significant strides in expanding diverse content offerings, it’s obviously clear we still have a long way to go when it comes to who is creating programming. That only four of 45 creators of new scripted shows for 2017-18 are of color, and that those four are black, says a lot about the lack of ethnic representation as well as the lack of representation in other dimensions of diversity (LGBTQ, those with disabilities, etc.). As the U.S. continues to grow in ethnic and other diversity dimensions, it is important that all diverse viewers see themselves reflected in the individuals who create and produce programming, just as they do in the content of the shows they watch.
What’s a recent example of a step forward for diversity in the industry?
There is an increasing understanding that there is a compelling business case for diversity and inclusion that goes well beyond the traditional approach of complying with laws and regulations and “doing the right thing.” Research has shown that organizations who recruit, develop, promote, and retain a diverse workforce experience a positive impact on financial performance, return on equity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Many organizations, including Corning Incorporated, recognize this and have internal programs to ensure deserving diverse talent is proactively positioned within their leadership ranks.
In conjunction with Mercer, the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) have been tracking cable workforce demographics for more than 10 years. Findings from their 2017 Diversity Survey show that over the last two years “the overall workforce of people of color increased from 39% to 40%, while the percentage of women remained constant at 34 percent. Executives at the senior ranks (senior level officials and managers) rose from 16 percent to 23 percent for people of color and 32 percent to 38 percent for women.” These are positive trends that can continue with proper support from cable industry leaders. NAMIC-WICT projections indicate that “if current workforce dynamics persist, the representation of people of color at the manager level and above is expected to increase by roughly two percentage points in the next five years and five percentage points in the next 10 years.”
In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
In addition to increasing diversity in leadership, organizations in the cable industry should focus on accelerating efforts to achieve gender parity as a primary avenue for helping women succeed professionally. This starts with fostering an inclusive workplace culture in which all employees, including women, have the opportunity to achieve their potential. It’s also essential that female emerging leaders are mentored and given the targeted training they need to move into the upper tiers of management at the same rate as men. Equally important, organizations need to maintain policies and offer benefits that support women and families. All of these measures contribute to retention, which is the key to keeping women in the industry.
As compared to other industries, cable is doing a good job in closing the gender equity gap with the overall percentage of women in the industry currently at 34%. The 2017 PAR Initiative Survey conducted by The Women in Cable Telecommunications revealed “that female executives and senior-level managers make up 38% of the overall workforce, which is eight percentage points higher than the national benchmark, and an improvement since the last survey in 2015. Hiring rates for women also improved, exceeding the rate for men by eight percentage points. Women were also given promotions at the same rate as men.” These statistics are very encouraging and the cable companies should continue current hiring, promotion, and retention practices to push the numbers even higher.