Cable Diversity Survey Yields Mixed Results


A new report on cable industry employment for people of color and women provides a mixed bag of positive gains and concerning declines both in middle management and C-Suite positions in recent years, according to according to the 2013 Cable Telecommunications Industry Workforce Diversity Survey by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT).

But the future is cloudy: The representation of both people of color and women in the managerial ranks is not projected to grow over the next five years if workforce dynamics continue at the current pace, according to the study.

“That’s definitely a concern; what we see is an opportunity to do better,” said Alicin Williamson, interim head of NAMIC.

“You embrace the good and worry about the bad,” added Maria Brennan, WICT president and CEO. “A lot of the news is good… You have to celebrate and savor those victories, but you also have to focus on the challenges, which we like to think of as key opportunities to improve.”

The findings of the report, a combination of WICT’s PAR (Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities and Resources for Work/Life Integration) Initiative and NAMIC’s AIM (Advancement Investment Measurement) employment survey, will be presented Tuesday (Oct. 8) during a joint NAMIC/WICT Diversity Town Hall meeting in New York. An industry-high 59% of the cable workforce was represented in the survey, which was conducted this past May in association with global HR consulting firm Mercer. The survey is based on 25 companies representing 223,306 cable employees.

People of color (Hispanics, African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asians and Native Americans) experienced a 5% increase in full-time employment within the cable industry to 38% since NAMIC and WICT’s study two years ago. People of color working in entry-level and mid-level management positions increased by 2% to 26% compared with 2011.

The percentage of people of color in executive and senior- level manager positions declined, however, according to the survey. Only 15% of executive/senior level officials and managers were people of color, down from 19% two years ago.

Much of that decline was among programming companies, which collectively posted a drop in executive and senior level officials of color to 17% from 24% in 2011. The proportion for MSOs remained flat at 12%, according to the survey.

Also, people of color working as entry-level and mid-level managers in programming-related companies suffered a whopping 31% drop over the last two years. MSOs increased their numbers in the category to 27% from 18%, according to the survey.

Williamson said the executive declines within cable networks are particularly disappointing given the increase in diverse images on-screen.

Among women, the industry registered 5% fewer employed females compared to a decade ago. Women represent 34% of all cable employees, below the national EEOC benchmark of 38% to 48%. The percentage of executives and senior-level managers is slightly up from 2003: Women now represent 28% of executives and senior-level managers, up 1% from 2003, according to the PAR findings.

Representation of women among entry-level and midlevel managers increased 2% among MSOs to 33% and 3% among programmers to 49% compared with two years prior, according to the PAR results.

The combined report goes on to say that if current workforce dynamics continue, the proportion of people of color in the managerial workforce is expected to remain flat over the next five years, and will actually decline for women over that same period — results organization officials said are unacceptable.

“These numbers shouldn’t be trending or staying fl at, particularly if those [minority] populations continue to grow year to year,” said James Jones, vice president of education programs and diversity solutions for NAMIC.

WICT’s Brennan added that the projections signal that companies in the industry need to remain vigilant in their efforts to hire and promote women.

“There are a couple of areas where we have to dig in a little bit and work with our cable companies to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to reverse what could be some downward trending,” she added.

Both NAMIC and WICT said their respective conferences will discuss the findings of the survey and look at opportunities for companies to hire, promote and retain qualified people of color and women. WICT’s annual Leadership Conference is set for today and tomorrow (Oct. 7-8) in New York, while NAMIC’s 27th annual conference will take place Oct. 8-9 as part of cable’s Diversity Week events. The week will also include the Oct. 9 Walter Kaitz Foundation 30th annual fundraising dinner.

“This is a one-stop-shop opportunity for professionals in our industry to get a really comprehensive education in terms of things that matter and drive the business,” Brennan said.

“It’s also a really great way for the diversity organizations to lock arms and say to the industry, ‘We’re here because we care,’” she added. “We’re appreciative that the industry cares so much about diversity and inclusion that they dedicated a week for us to really focus on the things that we need to do.”