The pursuit of diversity can sometimes feel like a theoretical science that largely hinges on the Heisenberg Principle, under which certain particles and waves cant choose a specific path until an observer tries to measure their trajectory. The cable industrys efforts to increase minority representationboth on the air as well as throughout the executive ranks of distributors, programmers and vendorshas been under observation for some time. And theres no doubt that this scrutiny has pushed companies to move in the right direction, funding diversity initiatives, casting a wider hiring net and supporting industry organizations like NAMIC, WICT, Emma Bowen, T. Howard and others.
Compiling this list gets tougher each year because the number of qualified nominations keeps going up. It’s a problem we’re happy to take on. Minority execs are clearly advancing to higher levels in cable as they gain experience and mentor others to follow in their paths. For the companies, diversity has become not so much a peer-pressure phenomenon, but more a function of enlightened self interest as the entire industry embraces the truth: Diversity is good for business. This is now in so little dispute that it has almost become a cliché. That’s progress.
But while the industry can be proud of its diversity strides, everyone knows that the struggle continues. Efforts to improve minority representation at the upper management levels and on corporate boards, for example, continues to face challenges. This year, we asked our Most Powerful Minorities in Cable to give us their perspective on a variety of diversity topics and we were struck by the number of minority execs who gave big kudos to cable for its efforts. However, those kudos were often followed up with an important caveat: We still have a long way to go.
That’s true. And it’s why we’re all watching. To be sure, this collective observation of the industry’s diversity efforts has in fact coaxed quite a bit of action in recent years. That stream of energy continues to surge forward, with mentors, training programs and other initiatives finding incredible talent in places where executives in past years may have never looked. After all, lack of minority hiring has also partly stemmed from laziness, ignorance and lack of knowledge of where to find assistance in recruiting minority talent. Observation and awareness has made that far less of a problem today. The industry knows what to do and how to do it. It’s in action mode. But we need to keep the pressure on. We need to keep observing. That’s the only way to make sure the right path always gets chosen.