T. Howard Chief Jo Pamphile Keeps Up Diversity Push as Awards Dinner Celebrates 30 Years (Q&A)

T Howard Foundation president and CEO Jo Pamphile
(Image credit: T Howard Foundation )

The T. Howard Foundation will recognize several industry leaders and companies committed to increasing diversity and inclusion as part of its 30th anniversary Diversity Awards Dinner on May 17 in New York.

T. Howard is expecting more than 625 attendees for the event at Manhattan’s Cipriani Wall Street, themed Opportunity is Everything and hosted by Tamron Hall,  president and CEO Jo Pamphile said. The foundation will present its Corporate Excellence Award to packaged goods company Procter & Gamble; its Diversity Advocate Award to Charter Communications senior VP and chief diversity officer Rhonda Crichlow; its Executive Champion Award to ABC News president Kim Godwin and its Executive Leadership Award to Revolt Media and TV CEO Detavio Samuels

As part of the dinner festivities, the T. Howard Foundation expects to announce the placement of more than 150 college-age people of color into internship programs with entertainment companies, Pamphile told Multichannel News. She also addressed some of the challenges the media and telecommunications industries still face with regard to equity and inclusion. Here’s a lightly edited version of the interview.

MCN: As T. Howard celebrates its 30th Diversity Awards dinner, how far has the organization come in helping the industry achieve its diversity efforts?

Jo Pamphile: First, we’re just not celebrating 30 years of the Diversity Awards Dinner, but it’s also a celebration of how the industry has demonstrated its resilience through a difficult time with COVID. Through the support of our board during that period we were able to sustain the organization, and the turnout for our last dinner [in September 2022] was like a reunion. Now that we are through that, I’m very much dedicated to looking at the landscape and figuring out what we need to be doing that we’re not doing now.

MCN: Where is the industry now with regards to diversity, equity and inclusion post-COVID? Has the industry lost any ground in its efforts due to the pandemic? 

JP: I think it’s doing fairly well, all things considered. From where we sit, we are getting more demands and requests for diverse talent, not only in internships, but also in terms of job postings to help build positions. We’re also fielding more requests for diverse candidates to fill upper-level management positions. It’s still going to be a challenge and it's not fixed yet, but the opportunities I feel are more out there now. I also think it's driven by the reality that the market is multicultural. 

MCN: Along with upper management positions, where do you see the greatest growth area for employment for diverse candidates? 

JP: I see the greatest growth in the booming tech industry. There are a lot of jobs, but it’s a place where those opportunities are not necessarily going in favor of people of color. We recently launched a diversity tech initiative because we have to be there — we have the talent and we’re looking to build an ever-bigger talent pool. My concern is that there are jobs out there that exist in tech that we don’t even know about because it’s such a fast-moving industry. I feel our challenge is that we have to make sure we’re keeping up.

MCN: This year’s event is being held in May after last year’s dinner in September. Will you look to make May the permanent date? 

JP: No. Ultimately we want to move back to March beginning next year. It’s harder to do the dinner during this time of the year because there’s so much going on, particularly with our recruitment cycle, which has to start in September. The demand for interns is very competitive, so we have to have adequate time to prepare. 

R. Thomas Umstead

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.