Honoring Cable's Finest

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In addition to No. 1 ranked Discovery Communications Inc. and Cox Cable Communications Inc., Women in Cable & Telecommunications' PAR Initiative is honoring eight other programming and operator companies that are best places for women in the cable industry.

Mini profiles of those winners follow in alphabetical order, alternating back and forth between operators and programmers. WICT also is paying tribute to three other companies that are doing the right thing in the areas pay equity, advancement opportunities and resources for work life support — Scripps Networks, Starz Encore Group and Turner Broadcasting System. And profiles of those companies are also included.

Six companies have returned to the PAR list for a second year. They include Comcast Cable Communications Inc., Discovery, Lifetime Television, Starz Encore, The Weather Channel and Turner Broadcasting. Among the newcomers this year are Advance/Newhouse Communications, WideOpenWest Internet and Cable, Home Box Office, Oxygen Media and Scripps.

We've indicated at the top of each profile which of the three key PAR measurements — pay, advancement or resources — that the company excelled in.

Advance/Newhouse

By K.C. Neel

To say that Advance/Newhouse Communications Inc. has gone through a challenging year is a bit of an understatement. Several of its service territories were hit with as many as three different hurricanes. That certainly has affected the company's ability to serve its cable customers. But the MSO has also had to deal with difficult workforce issues.

“They've had to ask themselves, 'How do we ask people to work if they have no school to put their kids in during the day and no home to go to at night?'” says Parthavi Das, Women in Cable and Telecommunications vice president of research and advocacy. “The hurricanes not only devastated their plant, it also devastated the lives of many of their employees.”

The MSO's two founding families — Miron and Newhouse — set up a foundation to help families cope with their losses. For every dollar donated, the founding families kicked in $2. Vice president of communications Jennifer Mooney says everyone who has asked for help has received it.

Advance/Newhouse has also created a roadmap for organizational development that includes provisions for gender equality.

Home Box Office (Resources)

By Tim Clark

Several years ago, Home Box Office surveyed its working parents and learned they had a great concern: back-up care for children when primary care mechanisms failed them. In response, HBO created and now participates in, the Time Warner Child Care Center, which provides short-term care for children of HBO employees when regular child-care is unavailable.

That's just one of the reasons why HBO ranked so highly in the PAR Initiative. Elly Silberman, HBO senior vice president of compensation and benefits, says the network believes strongly in a balanced work/life environment. There are on-site fitness and medical centers, as well as on-site mammograms and screenings for blood pressure and skin cancer.

“We support women returning to work from maternity leave by strongly encouraging department heads to be as flexible and supportive as business requirements permit,” says Silberman.

HBO also works with CareGivers on Call to provide in-home care. HBO's Employee Assistance Program provides referral services for dependent care, as well as counseling and many other services.

Comcast Cable

By K.C. Neel

As Comcast Corp. continues to integrate AT&T Broadband's systems, the MSO has been using various PAR standards as an outline to make sure the integration is seamless.

“They are taking advantage of the merger to integrate the best of both cultures,” says Joanne Cleaver, a consultant for Working Mother Media. “The company is expanding its mentoring and advancement programs. And it is also increasing its efforts at providing clear career pathing for women. And it's working.” She says that the number of women in Comcast's management has increased.

Comcast has spent a lot of energy putting together succession plans and implementing promotional opportunities for women and people of color, says Comcast vice president of human resources Melanie Penna. The company is also committed to using women and minority-owned companies as vendors. “We have gone to lengths to add programming to our lineups that appeal to women and minorities,” says Penna.

The MSO is making sure employees have the flexibility they need to get their jobs done. “We're embracing that more than ever before right now,” Penna reports.

Lifetime Television (Pay)

By Tim Clark

For a workforce dedicated to satisfying consumers' TV appetites, it's gratifying to be recognized two years in a row by Women in Cable & Telecommunications' PAR Initiative. “We devote so much of our resources, programming and public advocacy initiatives towards women,” says Patricia Langer, executive vice president of legal, business affairs and human resources at Lifetime.

Langer says Lifetime relies on outside firms like Kroener and the Cable & Television Human Resources Association to keep a finger on the pulse of providing competitive pay.

What's more, “we offer a full complement of benefits and services, which employees can actually tailor to their individual needs.”

For employees with children, Lifetime offers emergency child care. In-home service is also available from CareGivers on Call, an outside firm. A wellness reimbursement program shows Lifetime's holistic side — it pays up to $200 per year for gym memberships, personal trainers and weight-loss programs. “A holistic approach is not only the right thing to do but it is good business,” says Lynn Picard, Lifetime executive vice president and general manager.

Time Warner Cable (Resources)

By K.C. Neel

Time Warner Cable doesn't really focus as much on women's issues as much as it does on diversity as a whole, according to Holly Coxe, director of people development at the MSO.

“Our overall push this year has been aimed at increasing the representation of women and minorities throughout the whole organization, but especially at the higher levels of management,” she says.

Corporate parent Time Warner Inc. just completed its breakthrough leadership program that includes executives from each of its divisions, including Time Warner Cable, Coxe says. The cable unit also has its own leadership program for regional and divisional executives.

Time Warner has made progress in the past year in its efforts to expand and promote its mentoring and advancement opportunities for women, says Joanne Cleaver, a consultant for Working Mother Media.

The diversity initiatives will expand, according to Coxe. The operator is launching an online learning center that will help employees with diversity issues.

Time Warner has also hired a new diversity training vendor that ought to expand the MSO's diversity efforts even further.

Oxygen Media (Pay, Advancement)

By Tim Clark

From the onset, Oxygen Media was a rarity. It is difficult to find another media company that's owned and operated by women. And that perspective permeates everything the company strives to accomplish. “We [have] a group of employees who are passionate about serving an audience of women,” says Lisa Gersh Hall, president and chief operating officer of Oxygen. Out of the seven members of the company's executive team, five are female.

“It's not uncommon for a person to say a meeting must end at 5:30 because someone has to get to a soccer game,” says Hall. Oxygen practices a very strong internal promotion policy. “There is enormous room for advancement at Oxygen, and we always look to promote from within first,” says Hall.

Oxygen has institutionalized leadership training in the company through a very extensive course. “O! Get the Money,” an on-air promotion that attracted some 16,000 business plans from women seeking financial support grabbed employee attention as well. “A program like 'O! Get the Money' appeals to [employees] sense of adventure and self efficiency,” says Joanne Cleaver, a consultant for Working Mother Media.

WideOpenWest

By K.C. Neel

It shouldn't be surprising that the one MSO run by a woman is particularly sensitive to women's issue in the workplace. WideOpenWest LLC is run by CEO Colleen Abdullah, and it is small enough to be nimble on its feet when it comes to affecting change in the workplace, says Cathy Kuo, senior vice president of marketing and sales.

“WideOpenWest has a nimble culture, and I think they use creatively to attract women,” says Joanne Cleaver, a consultant for Working Mother Media. “They are on track to give mid-level women managers the experience they need to move up and beyond the pink collar ghetto.”

Kuo notes that the company lives by a list of core values that include: respect, integrity, accountability and servanthood. “We spent a lot of time on that last one and defined the term as 'the honor of serving others,'” she explains.

The company has also hired outside consultants to help improve the performance of executives. “The coaches not only help the executives overcome weaknesses, they cheer on their strengths, says Janice Turner, vice president of human resources.

The Weather Channel (Pay)

By Tim Clark

The Weather Channel is no stranger to competition. It is based in Atlanta, home to big names that include Turner Broadcasting System, Cox Communications Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. “If we want to get the best people, we have to have programs in place,” says Lisa Chang, senior vice president of human resources at Weather. “Then we looked at our demos and realized women equaled 40% of our employee base.”

In response, Weather offers telecommuting, flexible work hours, compressed work schedules, an on-site lactation room and an expanded paternity leave/adoption-assistance leave. “The research that exists supports that more engaged employees translate into better business results,” says Chang.

Joanne Cleaver, a consultant for Working Mother Media says Weather has been heading in the right direction when it comes to pay and equity. But the recent implementation of a “climate survey,” conducted every two years to gauge employee morale as it relates to pay and equity, pushed them to the front of the cable pack “They totally redid everything,” says Cleaver. “They got religion big time.”

Scripps Network (Pay)

By Tim Clark

About a decade ago, Scripps Networks developed a set of “core values” for how its staff members work and interact. And while designed for everyone, the values — including diversity, clarity in communication, compassion and work/life balance — have created a particularly supportive work culture for women.

Telecommuting options and flex-time schedules are a key component to Scripps' initiatives for employees. The company helps employees research daycare options. “We also offer elder-care options through our employee assistance program to research local organizations within the communities of our employees,” says Scripps vice president of human resources Julie Cookson.

Scripps Adoption Assistance program provides reimbursement for $3,000 in expenses incurred in the adoption process. Joanne Cleaver, a consultant for Working Women Media, refers to Scripps' policies toward employees as “a very high level of development.

“The company is also good at recruiting and retaining women in IT,” says Cleaver. There aren't that many women to recruit, yet 32% of their tech employees are women.”

Starz Encore Group (Advancement, Pay)

By Tim Clark

Numbers tell everything about the equitable nature of Starz Encore. About 50% of the Starz work force is made up of women. The network group also promoted six female employees into executive positions last year. “We have very good internal and external resources for development,” says Sheryl Anderson, who was promoted to senior vice president of human resources and administration this past March and who has been with Starz for 12 years.

Starz taps into the services of the Cable & Television Human Resources Association in order to mine accurate data about compensation packages in the industry and within the company's home market, Denver.

In an effort to retain employees, Starz has a “Brown Bag Learn and Lunch” program, which provides different departments a chance to “show off” what they do to other employees.

Joanne Cleaver of Working Mother Media says the support and mentoring group that Starz also developed is critical for employees who are on leave. “While you are gone, somebody is assigned to you at the company just to touch base,” says Cleaver.

Turner Broadcasting (Advancement, Resources)

By Tim Clark

Helping employees juggle work and family responsibilities is something that Turner Broadcasting System pays a lot of attention to. And one of the best examples of that is the company's emergency child care support, according to Joanne Cleaver, a consultant for Working Mother Media. She refers to it as “one of the best practices that we would really like to see set an example for corporate America.”

Kelly Regal, Turner executive vice president of corporate human resources and corporate communications, says job sharing and flexible schedules are just some of the ways in which tries to support employees. “We believe that by providing flexible part-time schedules we retain the best talent and maximize their contributions to the organization as full-time contributors who make a difference,” she says.

Employees are entitled to up to eight weeks of 100%-paid maternity leave. Short-term disability benefits offer women who incur pre- or postnatal complications a salary continuation for up to 26 weeks. Prenatal disability leave and maternity leave are considered separate events — protecting a parent's paid time off and leave time.

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