The cable TV industry this week will be closely watching the results of diversity employment surveys from Women In Cable Telecommunications and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications as the annual Diversity Week festivities kick off in New York.
The highlight of the three-day confab — which includes Monday’s WICT Leadership Conference, NAMIC’s 33nd Annual Conference on Tuesday and The Walter Kaitz Foundation’s fundraising dinner Wednesday evening — is Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting that will reveal WICT’s PAR Cable Telecommunications Industry Diversity Survey and NAMIC’s AIM (Advancement Investment Measurement) report. Both research studies are geared to help companies identify the factors that influence the industry’s ability to recruit, retain and advance a diverse workforce.
While the final results of the surveys were not available at press time, WICT, NAMIC and Kaitz executives said they are encouraged by preliminary results. The 2017 PAR and AIM surveys reported increases in women and people of color in senior level positions, but also showed a drop in promotion rates.
PAR for the Course
WICT president and CEO Maria Brennan did not disclose specific numbers for its PAR survey, but did say the share of women in executive and senior-level jobs is up, along with promotion and hiring rates.
”We’ll continue to not only showcase the good things about the survey but more importantly showcase the challenges, and help our industry enact practices and policies that will improve the numbers exponentially quicker than if they were doing it alone,” she said. “We’re grateful that the industry allows us to measure — that’s a big deal, because there are a lot of industries out there that don’t allow that at all.”
NAMIC president A. Shuanise Washington also said that this year’s AIM survey shows signs of improvement regarding minority hiring, retention and advancement compared to the previous 2017 survey: “There will be some progress that we can talk about but there will also be opportunity areas. I believe the results of the survey will certainly be indicative of that.”
Kaitz Foundation executive director Michelle Ray said she’s not discouraged by early results from the reports. “Sometimes no change or a little bit of change can be better than going backwards,” she said. “Whether the message is good or bad, it just makes me know that there’s still work to be done.”
Other key Diversity Week events include the WICT Leadership Conference, themed “Forge the Future,” which is expected to draw nearly 800 attendees to the conference. The conference’s opening session will feature a fireside chat with U.S. women’s hockey gold medalists and gender-equity advocates Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando.
“We’re so busy trying to get through the day to day and think of mid-term or near-term, but we want our members and women in the industry to think about long-term as well,” she said. “While the overarching theme of the sessions is leadership development, we are going to be forward-looking and forward-facing, so that we can help our members read the tea leaves.”
WICT is expecting more than 1,000 attendees for its annual Touchstones Luncheon, which will feature an artists’ panel with the co-creators and stars of IFC’s Baroness von Sketch Show, Meredith MacNeill and Jennifer Whalen. The organization will also present its Women of the Year and Women to Watch awards during the luncheon.
NAMIC Seeks a Dialogue
NAMIC will kick off its 32nd annual Conference — themed “Breaking Barriers: The Multicultural Media Agenda” — Tuesday with an opening keynote with the conference’s co-chairs, Cox Communications president Pat Esser and NCTA: The Internet & Television Association president and CEO Michael Powell. “Traditionally, the organization has brought in an outside person to do a keynote, so for me it was really about having a dialogue with leaders within our industry,” Washington said.
Other NAMIC Conference highlights include the organization’s L. Patrick Mellon mentoring luncheon on Tuesday, featuring a moderated discussion with former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, and the annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, when NAMIC will award its Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award to Urban One founder and chairperson Cathy Hughes, as well as present the organization’s annual Next Generation Leaders Awards.
“The goal is trying to create opportunities for people to hear from those who have broken barriers in their professional lives,” Washington said. “We’ve been focused on making sure that when NAMIC members and other attendees get to the conference, it’s a cohesive and meaningful platform — not only informational but educational — and most importantly, something that they can take with them back to their day jobs.”
With its tagline “We’re All In,” the Walter Kaitz Foundation is expecting a strong showing for its annual fundraising dinner despite recent industry consolidation. Kaitz’s Ray said the organization is hopeful of matching or surpassing last year’s tally of $1.4 million in fundraising revenue.
“Given that we’ve had a lot of movement in the industry in the past year and that different financial decisions are being made in organizations that now have three or four other companies that we used to work with separately, we have seen a decrease in our fundraising efforts,” she said. “However, we’re encouraged because the numbers remain fairly robust, and we want to continue to build on that.”
Actor/comedian Chris Spencer (Aspire TV’s Icons, Idols + Influencers) will host the dinner, which will honor Comcast with the organization’s Diversity Champion Award and education-based, non-profit organization City Year with the Diversity Advocate Award, according to Ray.
“Inclusion has been the big play across the industry,” Ray said. “It’s no longer the notion that we’re just talking diversity — without speaking to the inclusivity piece of it, it’s hard to talk about diversity. Some people are pushing back and see diversity as differences; what we’re talking about is how to engage people that don’t have a voice.”
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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.