Cable Lags In Diversity: Survey

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This week, the cable industry will put its best foot forward regarding diversity efforts — but a new industry-based survey indicates cable still lags other industries in hiring and promoting people of color.

Despite an increased emphasis on diversity over the past few years, there’s been little progress with regard to promoting minorities to the executive ranks, according to the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications’s Multi-Ethnic Employment in the Telecommunications Industry report.

The survey, to be discussed this week at a NAMIC conference in New York, was developed in association with DiversityInc. magazine, which compiles an annual top-50 list of companies committed to diversifying their employment and supplier ranks.

Multichannel News obtained early results from the survey, which only included responses from 10 unidentified companies in the cable sector. The report queried human-resource executives at various operators and programmers about their diversity practices, and asked NAMIC members about how seriously they think the industry treats the goal of diversifying the executive ranks.

The survey found the number of African-American executives in top cable management fell from a high of six during NAMIC’s most recent employment survey in 2002 to three in 2004.

The number of Asian executives increased to three from one and Hispanics remained even at two.

African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics all suffered losses in the middle-management ranks, according to the survey.

NAMIC president Jenny Alonzo said cable has been proactive in attracting minorities, but hasn’t adequately helped them move up the corporate ladder.

“Folks need to look at the data and understand where we are strong — we’re strong at bringing minorities into the industry, but they’re not moving up and they’re leaving,” Alonzo said. “Retention is a problem.”

The industry in general didn’t compare favorably to the DiversityInc. top 50.

More than 178 companies, including some from the cable industry, participated in the 2004 DiversityInc. survey, which asked detailed questions about top-level commitment to diversity, supplier diversity programs and methods of communicating diversity initiatives externally and internally.

Time Warner was the only cable company in the top 50, at No. 49. Pitney Bowes Inc. ranked first.

“If you aggregated the data that we have, the cable industry would not fall within the top 50 companies for diversity,” DiversityInc. CEO Luke Visconti said. “Cable has some great opportunities, but they have not made any progress since the last round of data two years ago, unlike corporate America, where there is extremely rapid progress.”

The results:

  • African-Americans represented 7.7% of middle managers compared with 7.8% of companies in the top 50 survey;
  • Asians comprised 2.3% of cable middle managers, compared with 11.25% of DiversityInc.’s companies;
  • Hispanics comprised 6.5% of middle managers in the DiversityInc. survey, versus 3.2% in cable companies;
  • Women comprised 49% of middle mangers in the DiversityInc. study, compared with 38% in cable;
  • Fewer minorities in cable are among the top-10% highest-paid employees compared with DiversityInc.’s top diversity companies; and
  • Only female cable employees, at 30%, outrank women employees among the DiversityInc. group, which counts 25% of women among the top-10% highest-paid employees.

“When you compare the research to Diversity Inc.’s top-50 list, it appears that our major advertisers are well ahead of our industry when it comes to diversity initiatives,” Alonzo said. “We have to be careful — we have threats from dish and from the Internet. Cable has been a trailblazer, but there are a lot of other things on our heels.”

Cable executives with knowledge of the report would not comment on the matter.

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