Keeping Things Up to PAR

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OK, so we’re not amateurs anymore. Cable operators and content companies are bigger than ever. Wall Street’s profit demands loom large as public companies struggle to find the right balance between short-term actions and long-term planning. And the gloves are off in the competitive arena.

First, there was satellite, then the Internet and telephone companies are next. It’s hot now and will only get hotter.

Yet somewhat paradoxically, cable continues to morph at warp speed, very much the adolescent. Entrepreneurial startups are still out there in force. It’s still a very exciting time to be in this business, with outcomes not at all predictable.

How can our industry take advantage of the upside of these two parallel realities? Much of it — most of it — depends on the human factor. Hiring, compensating, training and creating an effective work environment — an environment that positions a company for better profitability and to gain and maintain the competitive edge — can mean the difference between an ability to attract and keep top talent and the very real prospect of losing those people, in droves, to other industries. (Or never even attracting them to begin with.)

To that end, I’m very encouraged to see that this year’s Women In Cable Telecommunications survey on pay equity, advancement opportunities and resources for helping balance the pressure of work and life at the same time attracted 40 participating companies — a record number.

Now in its fourth year, this PAR Initiative was created by the WICT Foundation to help companies reach long-term business goals by making best use of women in their managerial and executive ranks.

PAR is a forward-looking trend analysis that goes beyond administering an annual survey and interpreting its results. It provides participants with year-round counsel on crucial human-resources issues and support in adapting best practices. The process helps companies set internal goals and create plans to achieve them. In turn, our industry benefits from having an increasing number of its companies focused on improving their workplace policies and practices, thus enabling those outfits — and the cable industry, collectively — to compete more effectively.

Based on consecutive annual PAR findings, WICT this year introduced its “Tech It Out” program, addressing a looming crisis: a shortage of women holding, or pursuing, technology careers. According to the 2006 Annual PAR Initiative Report, there was a decided drop in the number of female information-technology project managers, from 19.9% last year to 15.6% this year.

The Tech It Out program will concentrate on four goals:

  • Raise awareness of the problem;
  • Support those women currently working in technology positions within the cable industry;
  • Step up recruitment of female technology professionals from outside our industry; and
  • Encourage girls to pursue technology careers in cable.

Yes, our industry has grown up since the “cable cowboy” days, and we are all the wiser. We’re still young enough to pursue dreams and take risks, but we’re seasoned enough to face our challenges and take action. We’re fortunate to have PAR and other valuable resources to help us perform to our best abilities and to shape our future. All of us should make sure that we use them, to the max.

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