On the eve of its annual fund-raising dinner, the Walter Kaitz Foundation is
planning a fundamental shift away from its current role as the cable industry's
top minority job recruiter.
Instead, the foundation will fund organizations that assist minorities in
their professional development and help minority-owned vendors to find cable
customers, placing the onus of attracting new, qualified minority executives on
MSOs and programmers, Kaitz president Art Torres said.
The foundation's board of directors endorsed the change in mission during a
meeting at the National Show in June, he added.
'The board felt that [cable companies] needed to be held accountable for
[cable's] diversity efforts, rather than having the foundation play that role,'
said Torres, who has headed the organization for about a year.
The proposed changes follow criticism leveled at the foundation in recent
years over cable's poor overall record in recruiting minorities -- particularly
its lack of success in helping its recruits to keep the jobs they land or move
up the corporate ladder.
Torres said the plan won't be official until after he presents it to the
board next month. But the idea is for Kaitz to quit its 18-year-old job of
directly recruiting minorities for middle-management jobs at cable operators and
Instead, the foundation -- which raises about $2 million per year from its
annual black-tie dinner (this year's is Sept. 13) -- wants to help bankroll
other organizations that have taken up that charge.
Such organizations include the National Association of Minorities in
Communications, Women in Cable & Telecommunications, the Cable and
Telecommunications Human Resources Association and the Emma L. Bowen Foundation,
'We also want to offer scholarships not only for young people who might want
to come into the industry, but also to current employees who need a little extra
help in terms of advancement,' he added.
Kaitz will also handle the supplier-diversity program spearheaded by the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
'We will have a national Web site for diversity suppliers, as well as
continuing a job site that will include resumes from people looking for jobs, as
well as jobs that are available within the industry,' Torres said.
According to NAMIC, minorities hold about 30 percent of the jobs in cable,
but only about 5 percent of those posts are at the senior-vice-president level
Kaitz's recruitment about-face drew mixed reactions from industry
'To not have that recruitment piece is certainly a loss for the industry,'
NAMIC president Pat Keenan said. 'What will balance that out is the increased
support from cable companies themselves to recruit minorities.'
Former Kaitz fellows were also contemplating the ramifications of the
'It's a mixed blessing,' Nickelodeon vice president of communications
Michelle Moore said. 'On one hand, I think you need a recognized organization
that's valued in the industry to keep the focus on minority recruitment into the
industry. Kaitz did a terrific job of introducing new talent to the industry who
otherwise may not have been exposed to cable. But I think operators understand
the need for diversity, and I think there have been a number of operators and
programmers that have excelled in that capacity.'
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.
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