Cable Execs: Diversity Is Good Business

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New York -- As the country becomes more ethnically mixed, the business
case for diversifying cable’s employment ranks and programming was made clear at
various Diversity Week conferences and dinners here.

Most executives believe the industry has made progress in its endeavors to
place minorities in upper-management positions.

But nearly all who spoke at such events as the annual National Association of
Multi-Ethnicity in Communications Conference or the Walter Kaitz Foundation
Fund-Raising Dinner said much more work needs to be done if cable is to prosper
in an increasingly multicultural environment.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell, who spoke at
Wednesday’s Kaitz Dinner, urged the industry to stay committed to the issue of
diversity, adding that the communications revolution represents the first real
opportunity for people of color to achieve true economic prosperity.

"Diversity is the key to corporate success and economic success in the
future, whether it’s in your customers or your labor force or the mobility of
your own employees in your own institution," he said.

But clearly, such efforts won’t happen overnight. In fact, MTV Networks
chairman and CEO Tom Freston estimated that it typically takes close to seven
years to fully implement a diverse culture top to bottom within a company.

Still, the industry appears to be headed in the right direction. "In the past
several years, we’ve seen major investments in Hispanic and African-American
television ventures from some of America’s largest media networks and cable
companies, [and] they are seeing the profit potential of the minority market,"
NAMIC president Jenny Alonzo said.

To further those efforts, African Americans and Hispanics themselves need to
work together and develop more influential coalitions to help corporate America
understand the value of and financial power of the minority marketplace,
according to U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO George
Herrera.

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