NAMIC 'Road Show' Preaches Diversity

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NAMIC has organized a road show for senior managers at cable operators, programmers and technology companies, to make the case for executive diversity and the increased recruitment of people of color.

Hallmark Channel CEO Lana Corbi disclosed NAMIC's initiative last Tuesday, during a National Show panel examining the state of diversity in cable.

Corbi, who serves on NAMIC's advisory board, said the effort aims to sensitize senior executives to the value of not just having a diverse workforce, but of putting ongoing diversity practices into place.

She and other panelist made note of such initiatives as leadership development training, mentoring and succession-planning programs as means to improve company performance in both good and bad times.

"A consciousness will come from the top down," she said. In the end, Corbi noted, diversity in the executive ranks will come when CEOs "judge people not on who makes a contribution to the golf game, or a clique, but who makes contributions to the company. The mandate will come to create an open workplace that's genderless and colorless."

STOPS ON TOUR

Lifetime Television, Home Box Office, Fox Cable Networks Group and A&E Networks have received visits from the project so far, and a group of companies will be added to the itenerary before year's end, a NAMIC representative added.

Although Hallmark is a general-entertainment channel, diversity on and off-camera is vital for success, Corbi said.

"It is virtually impossible to meet the taste of a broad viewing population without having a diverse workforce," she said. "We must mirror the country. We can't reflect a narrow perspective, or else the ratings will show it."

Payne Brown, vice president of strategic initiatives at Comcast Corp.'s cable unit, urged cable companies to consider new avenues for recruiting people of color, while making hiring managers accountable for having an effective, productive workforce.

"People need to be incentivized or punished — simple as that," he said.

Brown also said companies should be given incentives to market video-on-demand, high-speed Internet access, interactive television and high-definition TV to people of color, who collectively have a higher level of interest in these services than the general population.

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