For 25 years, the Walter Kaitz Foundation has fostered diversity within the cable industry by helping remove barriers to progress and empowering others with opportunities. Every year, it has also honored individuals or organizations that act as catalysts for diversity within their respective organizations or throughout the cable industry by presenting the Kaitz Foundation Diversity Champion Award.
This year, at its annual dinner at the Hilton New York on Sept. 17, the Kaitz Foundation recognizes Bright House Networks and Scripps Networks as its Diversity Champion honorees.
“For 25 years the Walter Kaitz Foundation has worked to keep the cable industry's eyes focused on this issue, and it has had an impact,” says David Porter, the foundation's executive director. “The cable industry has a keen awareness of the changing demographics, and everything it does is consistent with that, including a work force that reflects the communities it serves. Now, cable must be recognized for the foundation to foster diversity.”
BRIGHT SPOT IN COMMUNITY
At Bright House, fostering diversity is reflected in management's commitment in terms of hiring and promotion practices as well as in its dealings with the supplier community. Bright House is also ensuring that its community activities are reflective of the markets they serve.
“At the highest levels, diversity is what our owners and top executives are all about,” says Jennifer Mooney, corporate VP of public and government affairs for Bright House. “Our commitment is to enhance our communities by building and launching more diverse programs to make a difference.”
Bright House, Mooney adds, has also developed a Women's Leadership Circle to help women in middle management, particularly in the technology sector. “Our operating philosophy is to help advance women in the technology sector,” she says. “But we are always analyzing ethnicity, race, age and gender on a regular basis. Diversity in our communities and our commitment to employees is always a top priority.”
To that end, Bright House has active partnerships with organizations such as the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund in Orlando, Fla., and the United Negro College Fund in Tampa. Bright House has cultivated alliances with local and national organizations that promote diversity within those communities, while pushing for the recruitment of more women and people of color in its senior ranks.
The company has also hired individuals at the division level to focus on multicultural community relations, and supports events and foundations such as the Hispanic Excellence Scholarship Foundation, 100 Black Men Scholarship Awards and India Fest. Within the cable industry, Bright House continues to be an active supporter of the Emma Bowen Foundation, National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable Telecommunications, among others.
TOP DOWN AT SCRIPPS
For Scripps Networks, diversity has always been driven by a top-down philosophy championed by its president, John Lansing. It is evident in the company's diverse work force as well as in the programming and supplier communities, where Scripps has become a model for the industry.
“Scripps has a long record of great work with diversity, but it's stepping up their game even more, with senior executives responsible for different pieces like work force, on-air production and communities. That caught the attention of the committee,” says the Kaitz Foundation's Porter.
The company employs a VP of supplier diversity and is a member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, with benchmarks established to foster new relationships with minority vendors.
Its philosophy of diversity extends to the programming arena as well. Scripps has established a detailed internal review program to ensure that its programming reflects the diversity of its core audiences.
Today, Scripps reports that 38% of its executive team is composed of women and people of color. The company expects to boost that number through the launching of its Women's Leadership Project, an initiative designed to enhance leadership development of female employees. It recently sponsored Women in Power, a professional leadership conference designed especially for women of color.
Meanwhile, an Executive Diversity Committee guides Scripps throughout its business practices, from hiring and recruitment of on-air talent to vendor selection and marketing—all of which demonstrates a holistic commitment to diversity at every level.