Spencer stepped into the CEO role last year after his Mega Broadband Investment teamed with private equity firm GTCR to buy Vyve Broadband. And he quickly made it clear that Vyve would continue to expand its empire, most recently through the purchase of FamilyView Cablevision in central South Carolina. He’s also made it known that Vyve Broadband is committed to a culture of inclusion. “Diversity statements are just words on a poster, but data tells your truth,” Spencer says. “I am proud of our team for making smart hiring decisions every day and understanding that having an organization comprised of individuals of all different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds is crucial to our success.”
The conversation about racial injustice in 2020 has been… WELCOMED! It starts with respect, listening and willingness to participate in talking about the uncomfortable topics.
In what ways can companies best show a sincere commitment to diversity and inclusion?
A sincere commitment is demonstrated in the makeup of your work force. Diversity statements are just words on a poster, but data tells your truth. Look at your company’s raw data. It starts at the top and we have a diverse senior management team and that helps drive a culture of inclusion across the whole organization. I am proud of our team for making smart hiring decisions every day and understanding that having an organization comprised of individuals of all different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds is crucial to our success.
How have you been a champion of diversity & inclusion in your professional life?
The most important part is treating everyone with decency and respect. I have always gone out of my way to spend time with our frontline employees. I intentionally seek out and have dialog with team members that have different viewpoints and come from different backgrounds. Our country is so divided right now, but I find that regardless of your background, you will find that you have more in common with people then you may have first expected. We also hold quarterly face-to-face “all-employee” meetings in small groups to provide every employee a voice. We ask for candid open feedback and I am proud to say, our folks don’t hold back. We create an environment where all are welcome and that starts with the senior team. This level of inclusion is an unwavering and fundamental part of our culture.
What initiatives in our industry best embrace diversity?
The great thing about our industry is that broadband and cable services are used universally across all races and every socioeconomic group, so you need to have all voices at the table to be successful. Closing the digital divide is a mission, I see so many operators on, in doing so, we’re creating opportunities across all footprints as well. Faster internet speeds across the country means greater access to education, culture, experiences and people regardless of where you live. It allows people to embrace other cultures and backgrounds in ways they could not without cable and broadband services. Our industry also puts on major events every year that celebrates and encourages diversity.
What are some of the tough conversations this industry needs to have?
It is pretty simple – we just need to have open candid conversations. I have participated in several discussions with hundreds of people over the last several months and it can get very uncomfortable for everyone. We have been programmed not to discuss race, which makes it even more difficult to even start the conversation. We think we have to agree on everything, but we don’t. I have very close dear friends and family that I strongly disagree within many areas, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to have strong, loving relationships. Listening to other points of view, respecting each other’s position and showing empathy is key. Furthermore, it is imperative that we have fair hiring and business practices; and treat everyone with dignity and respect. I was recently invited to address a group of CEO’s and it was obvious that most of us were uncomfortable. Afterwards, I received sincere follow up requests from many of them around how we can improve – together.
Which current shows (on linear and streaming) best embrace diversity?
Most content providers have embraced diversity; have recognized that viewers want to relate to the screen and that starts with being able to make a connection with the character by seeing themselves. Scan the libraries of most of the major streaming services, and you will find a wide range of diverse content. While there is more work to do, I think the programmers have done a decent job in recent years. Frankly, programmers that don’t embrace diversity won’t survive. That’s the great thing about America, we are made up of many cultures and different types of people which makes for a much richer experience. Great content is representative of that rich experience.