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Cable: Behind the Diversity Curve

The cable industry’s efforts to increase the diversity of its work force will take center stage in New York this week.

During the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications’ two-day conference, cable operators and programmers will pledge their time and dollars to bringing up employees, managers and executives from as many different cultural backgrounds as they can.

But a new report commissioned by the association, Multi-Ethnic Employment in Telecommunications, shows that many cable operators and programmers have a long way to go in advancing minorities into management ranks.

Among the findings to be released Monday, the NAMIC survey reported that minority representation in the overall work force has increased since 2004, to 29% from 26%. But the ranks of people of color in middle- and lower-management positions fell to 11% and 20% in 2006, respectively, from 13% and 23% in the same survey two years ago.

The survey was developed in conjunction with DiversityInc magazine, a 150,000-circulation publication based in Newark, N.J.

The results are likely skewed because most companies in the cable sector prefer not to report on how diverse their employee ranks actually are. And NAMIC president Kathy Johnson said it’s fair to assume that companies that did fill out the surveys are very aggressive on the diversity front.

For this year’s survey, only 14 cable companies -- four system operators and 10 programmers -- participated. A total of 50 companies were invited to participate in the online survey. No company names were disclosed.

For its last survey in 2004, NAMIC received responses from 15 cable companies. Only seven companies were part of both surveys.

For more on NAMIC’s Multi-Ethnic Employment in Telecommunications survey, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page 12 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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.