WICT Survey Seeks Best Gender-Equity Practices

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WASHINGTON -The cable industry's workforce is still male-dominated but a few corporations are successfully working to remedy the inequity, according to a new survey by the Women in Cable & Telecommunications Foundation.

The survey, sponsored by the industry and given to 36 telecom and cable companies of differing sizes, employing more than 162,000 people, found that these companies employ a workforce that is 38-percent female. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national workforce averages 46.3-percent female.

The goal of the survey was not to confirm what was already known but to promote the "best practices" of companies that are successfully attracting, retaining and promoting a diverse workforce.

"The whole purpose of this research is to point the way and to be a beacon for companies to improve what they're doing, not only for women, but for everybody working in the industry, as part of the overall mission of advocacy," said Erica Gruen, a member of the foundation and former CEO of the Food Network. "Our hope is that by showing what the best practices are we can inspire everybody else to emulate them."

Of the companies surveyed, 10 have a workforce that is 50-percent or more female. The foundation closely analyzed the practices of those companies. It found that each of them has management-supported programs to recruit, train and retain women and minorities.

The successful programs, according to the survey, are generally well funded-at an average of $240,000 annually. They include such practices as regular "cultural audits," flexible work arrangements, internal pay reviews and training

designed to promote advancement among women.

Grace Killelea, senior vice president of human resources for Lifetime Entertainment Services and a member of the foundation's best-practices task force, said the survey found a connection between workforce diversity and the bottom line.

"Companies who are investing in programs that promote diversity, promote work-life balance and promote equity in pay actually have better bottom line results," said Killelea.

Comcast Cable Communications Inc. president Stephen Burke, on hand to represent the sponsors, agreed on the importance of diversity for the telecom industry.

"For our industry to continue to thrive in what has become a very competitive marketplace, we have to have a diverse workforce which is reflective of the communities we serve," he said.

The WICT Foundation plans to release a white paper on the full results of the survey in January.


States News Service.

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