Diversity: How to Measure Progress

Over the last few years, the cable industry has gone through significant consolidation. In challenging economic times, creating greater efficiencies while maintaining or increasing deliverables is smart business.

Part of that process is measurement. You need to know where you stand to recognize what is working and what is not. That’s certainly true for the nonprofit associations that support the industry. Our boards, committees, members and other key stakeholders challenge us to do more while maintaining a focus on the bottom line — applying a business mentality to our work.

In the case of the National Association for Multi- Ethnicity in Communications and Women in Cable Telecommunications, our business is strengthening ethnic and gender diversity in the industry. Benchmarking progress on diversity and improving our understanding of the best practices being used by the most successful companies are central to that process. Measuring diversity is step one in strengthening diversity.

This year, in response to those who have challenged us to do more and deliver consistent results, we have consolidated our two employment benchmarking tools — WICT’s PAR Initiative and the newly rebranded NAMIC AIM survey. We will release the results on Oct. 4, during a joint Town Hall meeting as part of Diversity Week. The industry has strongly supported this partnership, through generous financial support from the Walter Kaitz Foundation as well as with participation from programmers and operators representing 54% of the industry’s workforce.

Since 2003, the WICT PAR Initiative has measured the status of women employees in the cable industry based on three criteria: pay equity, advancement opportunities and resources for work/life support. A comprehensive advocacy program helping companies to set goals, institutionalize practices, measure progress and achieve results, the PAR Initiative showcases best practices regarding company policy and procedures. Each year, the PAR Initiative grows more valuable as a resource for measuring and supporting the advancement of women in the cable telecommunications industry and has been supported both by WICT’s 20 chapters nationwide and the industry.

Launched in 1999, the NAMIC employment survey, formerly titled A Look Toward Advancement: Multiethnic Employment in the Communications Industry, provided a baseline of statistics and perceptions about the state of multi-ethnic diversity in the cable telecommunications industry. Th is newest iteration of the NAMIC employment survey, now called the NAMIC AIM (Advancement Investment Measurement), will provide rich data that companies can use to support goals for sustainable growth of multiethnic diversity and will further strengthen NAMIC’s role as a key industry resource for the cultivation of a diverse talent pipeline.

We worked with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to create and administer the combined survey. In doing so, we reduced the total number of questions by more than 70% in comparison with the previously separate surveys, while still giving us the data we need to inform our constituents.

By partnering on this research, NAMIC and WICT have demonstrated a resolute commitment to ensuring that the industry has access to uniform data that is vital to sustaining a strong pipeline of diverse talent. We will reveal the results at the Town Hall meeting. Until then, we are proud to share our businesslike approach to measuring and strengthening diversity.

Maria E. Brennan is CEO of WICT. Kathy A. Johnson is CEO of NAMIC.