Cable Working to Reach Diversity Goals


New York -- Despite a disappointing report on the cable community’s hiring practices and promotion of minority employees, cable executives said the industry is moving in the right direction with regard to diversity.

Several CEOs and executives speaking Monday at the opening session of the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications’ conference here said it is imperative that cable understand that its diversity efforts will determine its future success and its ability to beat back competitors.

“We’re going to win by having better product and outmarketing our competitors,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said. “I don’t know how to do that except to be more diverse.”

But the cable industry has almost been at a standstill relative to diversifying its employment base -- particularly in middle- and upper-management positions -- according to a NAMIC minority-employment study the association released at the conference.

Executives agreed that companies have to employ disciplined plans to affect diversity within their companies, as well as to hold executives accountable for employing and advancing people of color and women into the upper echelon of management positions.

“[Executives] have to take [diversity] as seriously as missing a sales number and keep it top-of-mind,” CNBC CEO Pamela Thomas-Graham said.

MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath added that once minorities are hired, the work environment has to be accepting of new ideas and potential complaints if companies are to retain talented women and people of color.

“People of color can’t be afraid to take risks because of the potential scrutiny they may face,” she added.

DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti said that with the ratio of minorities to whites decreasing from 1-9 in 1950 to 1-1.5 in 2004, it’s mandatory that the industry’s management reflect its subscriber base.

While cable’s weeklong efforts are unique among most industries, Britt said it isn’t an end-all to building a more diverse work force.

“It says something about the cable business that it’s different from other businesses,” he added. “But diversity is not a one-week thing … we have to talk about it all year.”