News

Diversity Week: A Plan Comes Together

9/13/2010 12:45 AM Eastern

The return of Diversity Week to New
York City is convenient for those of us who live
and work here. Fortunately, it’s also convenient
to the organizations working on educational,
fundraising and networking events from Monday
to Thursday.

Women in Cable Telecommunications and the National Association
for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications are marking
31 and 30 years, respectively, as potent advocates for diversity
in cable’s upper ranks and rank and file. WICT’s
Leadership Conference is Monday and Tuesday
at the Hilton, and NAMIC’s annual conference is
Tuesday and Wednesday at the same venue. The
Association of Cable Communicators holds its annual
Forum there Wednesday and Thursday.

Attendance prospects overall are up from last
year, when the events were in Denver.

As they say, it’s so nice when a plan comes together.

WICT reports registered attendance 25%
ahead of a year ago, and says the final number
should be around 500, a big bump from
last year’s conference. This is the WICT conference’s
first inclusion in Diversity Week, in New York or
elsewhere.

The NAMIC Conference is tracking ahead of last year’s
400 attendees — no surprise, as the organization’s members
are mostly based on the East Coast, and 40% of them
work in New York.

ACC expects a lift from Denver, but noted that this is the
second Forum to be held outside the group’s strong base in
Washington, D.C.

As for the centerpiece Walter Kaitz Foundation Fundraising
Dinner Wednesday night (at the Hilton), executive director
David Porter said, “Our numbers are doing great. We’re going
to have certainly over 1,000 people.” Attendance might not hit
the 1,250 level of 2008, but will be vastly ahead of last fall’s 750
in Denver.

Porter also says sponsorships at the highest levels of philanthropy
are at their highest levels ever.

“The industry’s come back in full force,” Porter said by phone
on Friday. “Being in New York has had a huge impact, and I’m
glad we’re back.”

A side benefit of the New York location is ancillary
business events and networking happen because
of the critical mass. Those, in turn, funnel
more people to the diversity discussions at the
conferences, Porter said. “We’ll have that again
this year.”

He said the agendas looked very solid at the
conferences. And the Kaitz honorees — Discovery
Communications and Rep. Doris Matsui (D.-
Calif.) — are worthy of celebration.

Discovery, to cite one statistic, has women
running six out of nine networks and managing
the joint ventures OWN and The Hub. Matsui has
championed broadband adoption in low-income
homes.

“I think the mood is going to be very positive,” Porter says.
Even as the TV economy has bounced back, organizations
such as those Kaitz supports need to keep emphasizing the
need for ethnic and gender diversity in the upper ranks,
though, and on both sides of the cameras.

Also, when downsizing happens (as it has the last two
years), people of color and women sometimes suffer disproportionately.
Where that’s happened, rebuilding needs
to occur, Porter noted.

Let the rebuilding start here this week.