As Black History Month (February) ends, Women’s History Month (March) begins. Diversity has been an issue of great discussion recently, in all parts of U.S. society, and the cable industry – from the front office to onscreen – has been no different.
Cable employees can be found throughout every state in the country, with 16,614 in Texas alone. And a growing number of those in the industry are women and minorities, finds a study that Women in Cable Telecommunications and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications have been conducting for more than a decade.
The latest Industry Diversity Survey, released last fall, indicated that the percentage of people of color, and of women, in executive and senior positions in cable exceeded national benchmarks, as did the overall hire rate for people of color. In 2017, the overall workforce of people of color increased from 39 percent to 40 percent, while the percentage of women remained constant at 34 percent. Executives at the senior ranks (senior level officials and managers) rose from 16 percent to 23 percent for people of color and 32 percent to 38 percent for women.
Still, the survey found room for improvement, especially in the areas of employee retention and promotion.
The cable industry also hosts an annual event to raise money for diversity programs and to recommit to prioritizing diversity initiatives across the media and entertainment landscape. In 2017, the 34th annual Walter Kaitz Foundation raised more than $1.6 million toward these efforts. The Foundation’s mission includes serving as a catalyst to increase diversity in cable in three areas – its workforce, its supplier base and its programming.
What about onscreen – are viewers seeing more diversity? More than two-thirds of TV viewers say that the TV programming they watch reflects people of different races, ethnicities, gender and sexual orientation, according to a recent poll from Morning Consult.
As NCTA’s report on the recent 9th annual Hollywood Creative Forum notes: “The demand for diverse and multicultural programming is higher than it has ever been.”
The report also notes, “the television landscape has shifted towards embracing strong female plot-driven shows – like HBO’s Emmy-award winning Big Little Lies – and towards affording African-American women more opportunities to break the mold – like HBO did with Issa Rae, the creator, executive producer and lead star of the network’s hit show, Insecure.”
In September, Emmy Awards winners taking center stage reflected that diversity, with historic wins that included the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing and the first Muslim and South-Asian man to win an acting Emmy. According to CNN’s coverage of the awards presentation ceremony, “From people of color to women, the night’s biggest winners continued to strengthen the argument often made that the small screen is more inclusive.”
Winners came from a record pool of 27 nominations of performers from diverse backgrounds.
What will the Oscar Awards, to be presented on Sunday, March 4, bring? In addition, the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications will announce its Vision Awards winners on April 3. The 25th annual Vision Awards recognize original programming that is reflective of the lives, spirit and contributions of people of color that best reflects the ethnic and cultural diversity of the viewing audience. Learn more about the awards and see a list of nominees.