As the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month continues through Oct. 15, it’s a good time to recognize the strides the cable industry is making in the area of diversity, from programming to the boardroom.
The cable industry just wrapped up its annual Diversity Week, a time when the industry comes together formally re-establish its commitment to diversity at all levels. Throughout the week, panels, roundtables, networking events and award ceremonies spark discussion on how to increase diversity from the small screen to company boardrooms.
The week was capped by a fundraising dinner for the Walter Kaitz Foundation, an organization formed by the cable industry to advance the contributions of women and multi-ethnic professionals in cable. Through the funds it raises, the organizations it supports, and the programs it produces, the Walter Kaitz Foundation serves as a catalyst for increasing diversity in cable in three areas – its workforce, its supplier base and its programming.
In the cable workforce, Charter recently made news in the hiring of its first chief diversity officer, Rhonda Crichlow, a senior executive vice president who is a member of the company’s leadership team.
“The creation of the chief diversity officer role reflects Charter’s unwavering commitment to the fundamental values of diversity and inclusion,” said Tom Rutledge, chairman and chief executive officer of Charter. “Rhonda and her team will work together, with the company’s full support, to ensure that diversity and inclusion strategies are integrated into all aspects of the organization.”
The commitment to diversity by Texas Cable Association members – Altice USA, Charter and Comast – can be seen in a recent issue of Cablefax Magazine that recognized employees from these companies as the most influential minorities in the cable industry.
The 2015 NAMIC and WICT Cable Telecommunications Industry Workforce Diversity Survey released last year found that 39 percent of full-time cable employees are people of color, which is higher than the national benchmark of 32-36 percent. It also found that 32 percent of cable executives are women, compared to the national benchmark of 20-29 percent of women who hold these positions.
When it comes to programming, a record 21 of the most recent Emmy Award nominations went to actors, directors and writers of color. Among those nominees, several went on to win major awards, including leading actor in a drama series; lead actor, supporting actress and supporting actor in a limited series; and comedy writing.
Yet, the annual 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report finds both women and people of color are underrepresented both behind and in front of the camera, compared to their portion of the U.S. population.
For cable, Diversity Week was a time to both celebrate accomplishments and reaffirm its commitment to move forward.