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Diversity In Action

Comcast adds a corporate office to its "terrific" diversity effort

Diversity has a long and distinguished history at Comcast, but the actual diversity office and a director to coordinate the work are brand new


In April 2011 Comcast Corp launched its office of corporate diversity and inclusion. The company has a history of "terrific diversity efforts," says Maria Arias, the new executive director for diversity and inclusion. But the actual diversity office and the coordination of diversity initiatives "across the company" is a first. "I'm proud of the dedication, and the progress we've made in a short period," Arias says.

Comcast is one of the world's largest media, entertainment and communications companies. It is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable, and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences. It's also one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers and the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal.

Comcast's approach to diversity is evolving. When the corporation acquired a majority interest in NBC-Universal, senior management decided it was time to manage all functions centrally. "We want to be consistent, fair and drive results," Arias says.

A lot of changes are under way. A team at Comcast University, the company's training and development organization, is working in partnership with HR to develop new diversity training that Comcast will roll out for the entire employee base in the next few months. "It's part of our on-boarding and other courses that managers take with their teams. It's tremendous to develop this for all levels of the organization, from the front line to senior leadership," Arias says.

She adds that Comcast's goal is to be an industry leader, not just on the communications front, but also in the area of diversity. That doesn't just mean keeping pace with what other organizations have done.

So the company is taking a hard look: "We think of diversity not just in terms of traditional ethnic and racial definitions. We go beyond and target our efforts to people with disabilities, veterans and the LGBT community. Given the changing demographics of our country, this seems the best way to integrate and interact," Arias says.

Comcast is also changing the structure of its diversity council. What used to be an internal council of senior leaders who spearheaded diversity efforts has now been augmented with an external diversity advisory council of business and community leaders. They provide advice and counsel to Comcast on diversity initiatives.

Comcast's diversity department has the job of driving diversity across the organization. Ron Phillips, SVP of employee engagement, explains that in the past Comcast's employee resource groups (ERGs) were informal. When the company conducted focus group interviews it found that employees wanted to formalize the ERGs. Now, Comcast ERGs partner with established groups at NBCUniversal, but will continue to operate independently

Comcast also has leadership programs with mentoring components, Phillips says, including "a great talent management process" which assesses employees' development needs while also taking diversity into account.

When it comes to succession planning Comcast can easily fill the pipeline. There is "a large group of talented high-potential people in the organization and no shortage of clever folks wanting to join Comcast," Arias says.

Many types of tech jobs are available. Comcast's national engineering and technical ops group provides analytical and technical expertise for the network and enhancements to product developments. The company needs software-side engineers focused on apps used with Comcast's existing products and services, as well as programming engineers, network engineers, systems and software engineers, and people who can work cross-functionally with various internal and external groups.

"Our business involves developing software for the multiplatform programming that we launch on our broadband network," Arias explains. Network engineers make sure the equipment matches the designs, whether it's employed in video, voice or data.

Comcast is currently looking for senior network engineers with six-plus years of hands-on experience with IP router and related technology. "We're very focused on that," Arias says. "That experience is helpful." Also needed are techies with experience in network security devices, as the company pilots and rolls out a new home-security suite of services, Arias says.

Comcast also hires new college grads and brings in interns through strong partnerships with Inroads, as well as industry-specific T. Howard and Emma Bowen candidates. Internships are offered to college and high school students. And the company partners with groups like NSBE, the National Black MBA Association and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

Comcast employees give back to their communities, especially through the Comcast Digital Connectors program where, in partnership with One Economy, talented high school students and young adults receive technical training. A Comcast Internet Essentials program, now being launched in major metro areas, gives low-income families a chance to get low-cost Internet service and buy a computer very reasonably. FIRST Robotics is another volunteer program popular with Comcast techies.

The company offers flextime, rotational assignments, telework and job-sharing. There are gyms at some locations, and on-site daycare is under consideration.

"It's a fabulous company. We work hard, play hard and look for high-potential talent," Arias says. "We encourage folks in the tech space to look at our company. If you are a self-starter and can manage your own career it's a great place to work."

"There's an energy here that's attractive," Phillips adds. "In our annual survey process we're always significantly above the norm."

D/C




Comcast Corp
www.comcast.com

Headquarters: Philadelphia, PA
Employees: 130,000
Revenues: $54.8 billion
Business: Media, entertainment and communications

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