WICT: Cox, Discovery Are Above PAR


Women contemplating a career in cable would do well to consider opportunities at Cox Communications Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc.

Those companies were named as the recipients of the 2004 Forerunner Accolade for the Best Operator and Best Programmer, respectively, by the Women in Cable & Telecommunications Foundation’s 2004 PAR Initiative.

WICT’s second study, reflecting results from 32 participating companies, gauges female employment relative to pay equity, advancement opportunities and resources for work/life support. Last year, the survey had 28 participants; 20 companies responded in both years.

For Cox, this marks the second straight year it has captured the Forerunner Accolade award among operators, while Discovery supplanted the 2003 winner, The Weather Channel.

The Forerunner Accolades were presented at WICT’s 20th annual benefit gala Nov. 3 at the Hilton Washington in the nation’s capital.

Cox topped Advance/Newhouse Communications, Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable and Wide Open West LLC in the operator category. (WICT lists the other companies alphabetically, not by rank.)

For its part, Discovery beat out Home Box Office, Lifetime Television, Oxygen Media and Weather to wear the programming diadem.

Getting more specific, survey results listed Discovery, Lifetime, Oxygen, Scripps Networks, Starz Encore Group LLC and Weather as the best companies for pay equity (there was a tie in this grouping).

Cox ranked first both in terms of advancement opportunities and resources for work/life support criteria.

Relative to advancement opportunities, Discovery, Oxygen, Starz Encore and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. also made the top five, while Discovery, HBO, Time Warner Cable and Turner were given the best marks for the resources they offered to work/life support programs.

One of the key findings of the 2004 PAR Initiative indicated that the ratio of female managers jumped to 38.4% from 29% in 2003. The improvement came even though the percentage of all women employees declined slightly to 38.5%, from 38.7% in 2003.

Over the same time frame, female middle managers jumped to 33.4% this year from 19.7%. Among senior executives, there was a slight dip to 26.6% from 26.7% the prior year.

Women of color represented 13.5% of the cable workforce, up from 13% in 2003, while the ratio of managers here grew to 8.5% this year from 6.5%. In upper management, survey results were pegged at 2.9% in 2003, versus 3.4% in 2004.

Substantial gains were made in pay equity, as the ratio of responding companies without such a formal policy declined to 40% this time around, from 65% a year ago. In 2004, only 5% of the respondent companies didn’t conduct any internal pay-equity surveys.

Elsewhere: 85% of the respondent companies said they provide leadership training for mid-level and high-ranking women, while 80% do so for entry-level women; 80% of companies offer flex time hours, up from 70% in 2003; 50% offer full-time telecommuting, the same as the year before; and 50% offered job sharing, down from 55% the prior year.

“In just one year, we’ve seen change in our industry as a result of the PAR Initiative,” said WICT president and CEO Benita Fitzgerald Mosley in a prepared statement. “It is testament to the industry’s commitment to diversity that more companies participated this year and that those who participated in both years made such bold steps to address the areas of improvement identified in the 2003 PAR Initiative. While the numbers show that we have taken significant steps, they also highlight areas where substantial improvement is still needed.”

The PAR Initiative survey was conducted by mail and phone interviews between April and July of this year. Follow-up by phone and e-mail was provided by Working Mother Media last spring to some 50 companies identified as having high potential to complete the survey, owing to their prior interest in it.