Diversity Week Highlights Cable’s Continuing Efforts

The Cable TV Industry’s Annual Diversity Week returns to New York this coming week with Women In Cable Telecommunications, the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications and the Walter Kaitz Foundation hosting events to highlight the industry’s efforts toward creating more diversity and inclusion both on screen and in the executive suite.

WICT leads things off Monday (Oct. 15) with its annual Leadership Conference. NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group chairman Bonnie Hammer will deliver the opening keynote at the gathering, which bears the theme “The Intersection of Imagination & Activation.”

WICT Gathering Leads Off

Highlights of the conference include Monday’s Touchstones Luncheon, in which WICT will honor its 2018 Women of the Year: Italia Commisso Weinand, executive vice president of programming and human resources for Mediacom Communications, and Mary Campbell, chief merchandising and interactive officer, Qurate Retail Group. (All three events cited here are at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.)

Author and journalist Joanne Lipman will provide the keynote address on Oct. 16 based on her book, That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together.

WICT will also bring back its “Pearls of Wisdom” series of mini-keynotes delivered by influential female executives, including Michelle Gadsden-Williams, managing director, inclusion and diversity lead, North America, Accenture; Roma Khanna, CEO of Revolt Media and TV; Matt Abrahams, lecturer, organizational behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-founder, BoldEcho LLC; Francesca Gino, professor of business administration, Harvard Business School; and Masih Alinejad-Ghomi, journalist and author of The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran.

The two-day, 32nd annual NAMIC Conference begins on Tuesday (Oct. 16), with the theme “Empower Leaders, Create Super Heroes.” Led by Shuanise Washington, the organization’s newly named president, and NAMIC Conference co-chairs Italia Commisso Weinand and TV One general manager Michelle Rice, the conference’s numerous panels and events will offer insight towards the industry’s efforts to advance greater inclusion and diversity.

The conference will open with a keynote address from CNN anchor Don Lemon and will close with the organization’s annual awards luncheon Wednesday (Oct. 17). BET Networks chairman and CEO emeritus Debra Lee will receive NAMIC’s Mickey Leland Humanitarian Achievement Award.

The conference will also feature the L. Patrick Mellon Mentorship Program Luncheon. Presented in partnership with WICT and sponsored by the Walter Kaitz Foundation, the program will feature John Kobara, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the California Community Foundation.

During last year’s Diversity Week, NAMIC and WICT teamed to present reports on workforce diversity for women and minorities. While the next report is not set until 2019, WICT president and CEO Maria Brennan said the week’s events put cable in a positive light relative to its diversity goals and initiatives.

“Our industry can teach other business sectors a thing or two about workplace diversity and inclusion,” Brennan said. “Not only does cable allow WICT and NAMIC to measure its workforce diversity, we set aside a full week to convene our stakeholders to share best practices. I know of no other business that does that.”

Kaitz Dinner Is Centerpiece

Diversity Week’s centerpiece is the 35th annual Walter Kaitz Foundation fundraising dinner on Wednesday (Oct. 17). The Kaitz dinner raises funds to support media and telecommunications industry diversity groups. The 2017 dinner raised more than $1.6 million. Under the theme “Diversity Through the Decades,” the dinner will celebrate African-American-targeted cable network TV One as 2018 Diversity Champion and the Boys & Girls Club of America as Diversity Advocate.

“These two organizations epitomize the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s belief that a demonstrated commitment to enhance diversity and inclusion can be achieved in groundbreaking and innovative ways across all organizations,” Michelle Ray, the newly named executive director of the Walter Kaitz Foundation, said. “This 35th anniversary milestone offers our industry a unique opportunity to reflect upon the work we’ve all done to make diversity and inclusion one of the cornerstones of our industry while we chart a course for the future.”

TV One’s Michelle Rice, a former Kaitz fellow, told Multichannel News that her network is honored to be recognized by the Kaitz Foundation for contributing to diversity and inclusion on television.

“When we launched in 2004, there was only BET in the marketplace, and people then were questioning whether there needed to be another black network,” Rice said. “Now, if you look at the proliferation of black content across the platform, we know the answer to that question as the industry now understands the value of this audience, and we believe that we had a lot to do with that.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.