Comcast Explores New Channels of Diversity

Since taking on the role of executive director of diversity and inclusion at Comcast Corp. last year, Maria Arias has revamped some of the communications firm’s diversity initiatives. Among the more notable accomplishments is the creation of an external diversity council, which advises the company’s business leaders on various issues in the field.

Diversity Executive spoke with Arias about how Comcast measures success, as well as some of the firm’s recent diversity-related accomplishments in the wake of acquiring NBCUniversal last year. The following are excerpts from the interview.

What areas of D&I do you place special emphasis on?

Following our acquisition of NBCUniversal last year, we developed a new team focused on building a foundation to develop a long-term and sustainable program that ensures diversity is reflected in our leadership, workforce, purchasing decisions, programming and community investment.

Additionally, we created a Joint External Diversity Advisory Council — the first within our industry — that consists of national leaders in business, politics and civil rights to advise senior executives at Comcast and NBCUniversal and work together to help our company become a model on diversity for the communications and entertainment industries.

How do you measure success?

To measure our success, we look at our level of outreach and how we’re tracking against our goals. We have benchmarks so that we can better develop our goals and measure our initiatives in the years to come.

For example, below is just a snapshot of what we accomplished in 2011:

• We increased diversity on our board of directors and formed internal diversity teams and external advisory councils to drive initiatives.
• We increased diversity hires and promotions in several areas while expanding employee training on diversity.
• We increased our spending with diverse suppliers. It is our belief that by improving our resources to increase our diverse suppliers, we will boost competition, promote equal access and extend Comcast’s culture of inclusion.
• We continued to expand our diverse programming to provide customers with access to programming that celebrates diversity and inclusiveness. We are also making progress increasing diversity in front of and behind the camera. In addition to expanded distribution of diverse programming, in 2012 we announced agreements with four new, independent minority-owned networks.
• We increased our contributions with minority-led and minority-serving nonprofit organizations in communities across the country.

What role does senior leadership play in D&I efforts?

Comcast’s culture of fairness, respect and inclusion starts at the top. It began with our founding 50 years ago and remains a core principle today. Everyone on our senior leadership team recognizes that our business is stronger when we create a team with different viewpoints and experiences.

In addition to our external Joint Diversity Council, we also created an Internal Diversity Council composed of senior leaders from across our business who implement and promote diversity at Comcast. Our senior leadership understands the importance of diversity and inclusion and fully embraces it as part of our company’s culture.

Mohini Kundu is an editorial intern at Diversity Executive magazine. She can be reached at editor@diversity-executive.com.