Comcast NBCUniversal has had plenty of success in managing diversity and inclusion over the past seven years. That success shows in the company's ranking on the DiversityInc Top 50. The company is ranked No. 7 now, but was No. 49 just five years ago.
David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation, credits the success of the company's D&I efforts to the embedding of diversity within the business and functional areas of the company that are responsible for executing on business objectives.
Comcast NBCUniversal has a number of teams helping to drive this. Its Corporate D&I team coordinates company-wide initiatives and serves as a critical D&I resource to the rest of the company. The Corporate D&I team is also responsible for data analytics and D&I reporting.
The company's Workforce D&I team is embedded in human resources and has direct responsibility in hiring, setting hiring practices and initiatives, and executing on them. Comcast NBCUniversal's employee resource groups have over 30,000 members in more than 150 chapters across the country.In addition, disability inclusion initiatives are housed under Workforce D&I, and the company also has a dedicated Military & Veterans Affairs group that spans the organization. The company ranked No. 10, No. 4, and No. 6, respectively, on DiversityInc's Top Companies for Employee Resource Groups, People with Disabilities, and Veterans lists.
These teams, along with Programming, Community Impact, and Supplier Diversity (the company ranked No. 2 on DiversityInc's Top Companies for Supplier Diversity), work together to ensure there is a D&I lens at all times. Cohen explained, "We have been successful in moving the diversity and inclusion needle by embedding the responsibility for driving diversity and inclusion in the company right into the businesses where the decisions are being made that impact the diversity of this company and the feeling of inclusion that exists among our employees."
Internal and External Diversity Councils Drive Efforts
Comcast NBCUniversal has three diversity councils supporting its D&I efforts. Comcast and NBCUniversal each has an internal diversity council (IDC), which are chaired respectively by Cohen and Craig Robinson, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at NBCUniversal, and have senior leader representation from all areas of the two businesses. The internal councils set and implement D&I strategy and hold key stakeholders accountable for results. The IDCs meet independently and jointly throughout the year, and management bonuses are tied in part to D&I goals and performance.
The company's Joint Diversity Advisory Council (JDC), its external council, serves in an advisory capacity. Also chaired by Cohen, the JDC provides advice and guidance on development and implementation of the company's D&I strategy. The JDC is comprised of external national leaders in business, politics and civil rights and represents interests of women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people.
Cohen noted that the JDC has been one of the most important tools the company has had in driving its D&I efforts. Cohen noted, "Having this outside set of advisors that cares about the company, that cares about diversity, has really helped improve the quality of our diversity and inclusion practices and has helped us to create a state-of-the-art diversity and inclusion program at our company." The JDC advises on all things micro, macro, and in between. Examples include advising on D&I policies, serving as a radar for how the company is being perceived in different communities, and holding the company accountable for its commitments.
The JDC also advised Comcast NBCUniversal on how to tell its D&I story. Cohen elaborated, "The JDC has been incredibly helpful in encouraging us to be clearer in the data that we are disclosing. They've helped us to make sure that when we're communicating the substantial data that we do communicate and the progress that we make, we're communicating in a way that is useful to people who may not be as intimately involved in the day-to-day of our diversity and inclusion programs as we are."
This level of transparency can be seen in the company's annual diversity and inclusion report. In the interactive report, the company includes workforce and management demographics (along with that of talent on air and behind the camera at NBCUniversal), information on spend with diverse suppliers, information on diverse content produced, and community impact initiatives. There are a number of companies on the Top 50 that produce annual diversity reports; however, this level of transparency is unprecedented.
Senior Leadership Engagement and Accountability Accelerates Progress
Cohen said that "the best way to move the diversity and inclusion needle quickly is to get buy-in from the senior leadership of the company at every level." A portion of senior leaders' bonuses is tied to the company's D&I goals, and that has helped the company yield desired results. But Cohen also credited success to what he called a "broad-based adoption" of a commitment to D&I by all senior leaders. Comcast NBCUniversal made driving D&I every senior leader's idea, and that in turn made each of them own their commitment to D&I. It also turned the competitiveness of the group up a notch and ultimately made the group hold themselves accountable.
Cohen illustrated one example: "We've got three geographic divisions in Comcast Cable, and when we publish results (quarterly, semi-annually or annually), we break them down by division. If the northeast division is falling behind the west division or the central division on some critical D&I metric, I don't even have to pick up the phone. They look at it and we'll often hear, 'Why are we in third place among the divisions? What are they doing that we're not doing? How do we turn that around?'And the divisional leadership puts in place the steps that are necessary to enhance the diversity performance in that division."With the embedding of diversity within business and functional areas of the company, the IDCs and senior leaders taking accountability for executing on strategy and driving results, and the JDC's advice, Comcast NBCUniversal is set up for continued success in managing D&I.