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Execs: Employee Retention Key to Diversity

While the cable industry has increased employment among women and people of color, industry executives said Tuesday that cable companies need to work on retaining those employees to continue its gains.

Executives speaking at the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communication and Women in cable & Telecommunications joint Town Hall meeting Tuesday morning (Sept. 29) were encouraged by reports from NAMIC's AIM (Advancement Investment Measurement) and WICT's PAR Cable Telecommunications Industry Diversity reports that showed employment increases in women and people of color within upper management and executive positions compared to the same period in 2013.

WICT’s PAR survey reported that the percentage of female executives and senior-level managers increased by 4% since the last PAR report, in 2013, while NAMIC’s AIM survey concluded that the percentage of executives and senior level managers of color had increased by 1% in the period.

In Town Hall opening remarks, NCTA president and CEO Michael Powell said the industry should be lauded for its continual diversity push, especially compared with other industries' efforts. He added, however, that the cable industry continues to “set our standards high” and needs to remain vigilant in reaching its diversity goals.

Indeed, both surveys also reported that retention rates are declining, meaning that female and minority executives are not remaining in their positions.

“If we don’t fix retention rates, we’re going to keep going backwards,” said Lissiah Hundley, executive director of diversity and inclusion for Cox.

David Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer for Comcast, added that retention is the ultimate “one step forward, one step backward” issue for the industry; he deemed that frustrating but not impossible to overcome.

“If we apply the same focus on the retention question that we have on [diversity] hiring, we’ll be able to move the numbers forward,” Cohen said.

Stacy Green, executive vice president of global human resources and facilities for A+E Networks, pointed to creating attractive benefits packages and listening to the concerns of diverse employees will help to keep talented employees within the company.

Mary Meduski, executive vice president and CFO for Suddenlink, added pay equity and valuing employees and the jobs they perform also can go a long way toward retaining executives.

Upper management executives should also be cognizant of the issues that concern diverse workers and address them directly with employees, according to Paul Richardson, senior vice president of human resources for ESPN and chief diversity officer for The Walt Disney Co.

“Most places are bad in giving their employees direct feedback, and for women and minority employees its even worse,” Richardson said.

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.