WICT, NAMIC Surveys: Women, People of Color Increase Representation at Senior, Executive, and Board Levels

The cable and communications industry has made major strides in the hiring of women and people of color, but the industry is struggling with retaining women and people of color at the same pace as men and whites, according to industry diversity employment studies from NAMIC and WICT.

The results of the biennial study — revealed this morning at a Town Hall meeting in conjunction with the WICT Leadership Conference and the NAMIC Conference — offered offered encouraging news on hiring and promotion of people of color and women compared to the last conducted reports in 2017.

Among the companies that participated in both the 2017 and the 2019 surveys, the 2019 AIM/PAR Workforce Survey reported that representation of people of color at executive/senior managers levels increased to 28.4% from 25.1% over the two-year period. In addition, the percentage of people of color at board of director levels increased to 16.8% from 15.3%. Compared to whites, the hiring percentage rate of people of color is 15.4 percentage points higher, said the survey.

Overall, people of color representation within cable industry increased at all levels for both operators and programmers, according to the survey. 

“It’s encouraging to see that people of color are making advancements in the industry,” says NAMIC President and CEO Shuanise Washington.

The survey also reported that female representation at the executive/senior management level increased to 34.9% from 32.7% compared to 2017, as well as at the board of directors level, to 25.2% from 16.8%. The overall promotional rate is higher for women than for men.

“We are grateful that we work in an industry that allows WICT and NAMIC to measure workforce diversity and inclusion,” said WICT President & CEO Maria E. Brennan. “Knowing where women and people of color stand is step-one in ensuring progress. As the survey results show, for women, closing the gaps in hiring and employee retention are central to achieving parity with men.”

The surveys also raised several red flags for the industry. Promotional rates for people of color are lower than whites, and young white professionals under the age of 36 are promoted at more than two times the rate of young professionals of color, according to the survey. For women, the survey reports that the turnover rate for women is 7.3 percentage points higher than for men.

“Clearly more needs to be done, particularly in the area of retaining and promoting people of color,” Washington said. “Companies need to shift from focusing solely on diversity to also focusing on inclusion. That’s where you are going to start to see real progress because diversity without inclusion is not effective in the long term.”

Brennan added that the data will help fortify the industry’s efforts to become more diverse and inclusive. “Like our partners at NAMIC and The Walter Kaitz Foundation, we will use this data to help companies strengthen their practices and policies to improve recruitment and retention of women within their workforce.” 

The AIM/PAR Workforce Survey was administered by research company Mercer and financially supported by The Walter Kaitz Foundation. A total of 21 organizations representing 75.5% of the industry workforce participated in the online survey of cable and communications companies, which employ more than 245,000 people, according to the organizations.

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.