The cable industry's recent record on diversity hiring
over the past year looks mixed.
Last week, a Federal Communications Commission study
reported that minority employment increased last year, while the percentage of female
employees dropped slightly.
The five-year trend report showed that minority
representation increased from 29.1 percent to 30.9 percent in 1998. Among full-time
employees in upper-level job categories, minority representation increased to 21.7 percent
from 20.9 percent, according to the survey.
The total number of minorities in professional and
managerial categories has shown a net increase of several percentage points, according to
the report. Also, black men and women showed the largest percentage increase in top
positions over the past five years.
Industry observers said the numbers were encouraging, but
more research is needed to define how minorities have fared in senior and executive-level
"We're glad to see that minority representation
within the industry and in the areas defined by the report as upper management is headed
in the right direction," National Association of Minorities in Communications
president Joe Lawson said. "However, we need a better tool to really get a handle on
how successful the industry's been in providing opportunities for minorities in
upper-level and ownership positions."
Executives also questioned the industry's commitment
to hiring women after the five-year trend report showed that female representation
Women represented 41.7 percent of the cable work force
versus 42 percent last year. Among total full-time employees in upper-level job
categories, female representation decreased from 29.4 percent to 28.9 percent.
The report also said the total number of women working in
professional and managerial categories remained unchanged over five years.
In a statement, Women in Cable & Telecommunications
called the findings "startling."
"As women make up increasingly larger percentages of
the overall work force in this country, our industry has continuously lagged behind in its
representation of women. Cable's downward trend, if it continues, would begin to
cripple an industry that has to compete with other industries to attract top talent in the
labor pool," the statement said.
But FCC Mass-Media Bureau chief Roy Stewart called the
changes minor. "I'm pleased and gratified to see that the cable industry is
still trying to go out and recruit minorities and women," he said. "I'm
pleased to see that there were no dramatic changes."
States News Service contributed to this story.