Coming Together to Prioritize Diversity
Diversity Week is a mere three days away and its shaping up to be a very busy and exciting week in New York City. Every year around this time, the cable industry comes together to formally re-establish its commitment to diversity at all levels across the internet and television world. Various panels, roundtables, awards ceremonies and networking opportunities are held throughout the week to stimulate ideas and solutions that will continue to diversify the cable platform, all the way from hiring and retention strategies to the content we see on our television screens.
First off for the week is the WICT Leadership Conference, where key players across the industry will gather to recognize the women leaders who are taking their organizations to new heights, and to engage in leadership and networking strategies that aim to help aspiring women leaders succeed professionally and in their personal lives. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a former Olympian who was dubbed ‘The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century’ by Sports Illustrated, will open the conference as one of the keynote speakers, along with Danai Guirira, an actress from AMC’s The Walking Dead and TV journalist Claire Shipman.
A highlight of the conference every year is the Touchstones Luncheon, where this year’s Woman of the Yearaward will be given to Kathleen Finch, the chief programming, brand and content officer at Scripps Networks Interactive. In a Q&A session earlier this month, Finch talked to us about her achievements at Scripps, why WICT is an important entity in cable, and what it means to be a role model and mentor for aspiring professionals in the business. Mary McLaughlin, senior vice president of the Beltway Region of Comcast Cable, and Laura Gentile, senior vice president of espnW, will also be recognized at the Touchstones Luncheon as Woman to Watch honorees.
Next, diversity champions will come together at the NAMIC conference to address diversity and inclusion at all levels in the industry. Panels and sessions will bring a variety of perspectives and experts in the industry together to help attendees navigate the corporate landscape and learn how best to advance their organizations. And on the programming side, in a hands-on workshop, participants will also get to hear about how to create compelling scripted TV content that reflects the diverse stories and cultural experiences of viewers throughout the U.S. The conference will also recognize excellence in multicultural marketing during the NAMIC EMMA awards. Organizations with top-notch marketing campaigns that targeted multicultural audiences will receive honors for their successes.
The week culminates in the 33rd annual Walter Kaitz Foundation fundraising dinner, the most prestigious fundraising event in cable. This year’s diversity advocate honoree is the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). NALIP Executive Director Axel Caballero spoke to us earlier this summer about how NALIP is playing an important role in giving minorities the opportunities and tools to succeed in today’s media and entertainment business. And last but not least, A+E Networks will receive the diversity champion award for its work in promoting diversity within A+E and throughout its myriad of programming, whether through its career development initiatives for women and minorities or the challenging story topics the network airs on racial diversity and sexuality.
We look forward to this industry-wide celebration next week and the chance to honor and meet those who are truly making diversity a priority. While cable works year-round through its various efforts and initiatives to support diversity in the media and entertainment world, Diversity Week is the time for all of its advocates to come together, learn, celebrate, and re-fuel for the year ahead.