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Getting Up To PAR

12/02/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

Like no other sector, the cable business exemplifies U.S. industry at its most dynamic. Replete with zealous entrepreneurship, tireless workers, new frontiers, innovative ideas and a dichotomy of old and new methods, this is an industry that also gives pause to recognize and celebrate its people.

Collectively, we do a fine job of honoring our leaders, joining forces to raise charitable funds and educating through our associations. Now, as our industry morphs and matures, it’s time to take a bigger step towards accountability with workplace processes.

In its third year, the WICT Foundation’s PAR Initiative — measuring Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities and Resources for Work/Life Support for Women — is a road map for companies to develop policies and programs that recruit, empower and promote smart, skilled and diverse individuals.

With serious economic and technological challenges ahead, demands on employees will only increase — particularly the reliance on women who now fill the ranks of entry-level and mid-management positions. What training, advancement, resources and pay policies are in place to support their work?

Cable’s ad-hoc days are over. It’s time to shore up best practices. A thriving internal culture is not going to carry you through the next four quarters unless formal processes are in place to sustain momentum.

Before Oxygen participated in the PAR initiative, little at the company had been institutionalized. Policies were not on paper, so not only were employees unaware, but management wasn’t tracking the status of Oxygen’s human resources.

In 2004, Oxygen’s PAR score was good, but could have been better. In 2005, it ranked highest in Advancement Opportunities on the PAR industry scorecard. Using PAR’s year-over-year tracking process, Oxygen extended its management-training program to directors and managers. It revamped its performance-review process to make it easier and more comprehensive.

Oxygen offers flex time and part-time options, as well as telecommuting and job sharing in certain cases. It institutionalized its pay-equity policy. All employees now have their pay reviewed annually and compared against market data to make sure they are fairly compensated. PAR might not change a business overnight, but it does offer a measuring stick to evaluate practices and make critical decisions. We all know in business that if you can measure, you can bring about change and improvement — particularly in the area of human resources.

PAR has evolved into a comprehensive workplace tracking study that enables companies to set goals, institutionalize practices, witness progress and achieve results. More broadly, it demonstrates the importance of creating workplaces where all types of people can excel if properly supported. Regardless of size, affiliation or type of business, all organizations benefit from measurement and accountability. PAR is a tool (see details at http://www.wict.org/WICT/Foundation/PAR/2005/) specifically designed for our industry, and its value is cumulative. Dive into the PAR results, and you’ll see progress.

Approaching 2006, we hope more companies will take part in PAR, fortify their workplace programs and contribute to creating a stronger, more competitive industry overall.

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