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Diversity In Action

Scripps Networks values diverse programs, viewers & employees

The company is continually in startup mode, launching new networks and programming. New jobs are created every year and opportunities abound

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Julie Cookson: diversity is prized from both employee and viewer standpoints.

Julie Cookson: diversity is prized from both employee and viewer standpoints.

'Diversity is our number one core value," says Julie Cookson, SVP of HR at Scripps Networks. That, she affirms, is true not only from an employee standpoint but from a viewer standpoint. The company is known for its diverse programming and audience, and from the president on down it's committed to ensuring that the employee base reflects that.

Scripps Networks is a division of the E.W. Scripps Co (Cincinnati, OH), a media company with interests in national lifestyle cable networks, newspaper publishing, broadcast TV stations, electronic commerce, interactive media and licensing and syndication.

The networks division is involved with TV programming, and interactive content for Home & Garden TV (HGTV), the Food Network, the DIY Network, the Fine Living TV Network, and Great American Country (GAC). HGTV reaches about 89 million U.S. households and Food Network reaches 88 million. The programming can be seen in more than 115 countries.

The division operates out of six cities, with its tech center located at Knoxville, TN HQ. Scripps Networks hires transmission, software and development engineers, flash developers, systems admins, broadband specialists, online editors, Web designers, content managers and more. Another technical group makes sure the satellite signal stays on the air 24/7.

These jobs are usually filled by techies with a network ops background or specific knowledge of production or transmission, but Scripps' hiring managers will consider training bright, enthusiastic candidates interested in shift work, Cookson says.

Scripps Networks takes its core values seriously. Domestic partner benefits were made available a few years ago, and this year the company rolled out a flexible alternative work schedule program.

When relocation is being considered, the company tries to involve the whole family in discussions about the new community and its culture, and the challenges associated with the move.

To help maintain a diverse workforce, Lenore Washington-Graham, VP of strategic resourcing, looks for partnerships with organizations promoting diversity. Scripps has partnered with HACE, collaborated with NSBE and helped sponsor the Spelman College and Working Mother Women of Color conferences. The division also works with Women in IT, Women in Technology International and Latinos in IT.

Scripps Networks has relationships with Hampton University (Hampton, VA), the University of Tennessee, and the Walter Kaitz Foundation. Washington-Graham is a Kaitz Fellow and Cookson is on the board of the Emma Bowen Foundation. Both foundations promote careers for minorities in the cable industry. Scripps also supports Women In Cable Telecommunications (WICT) and the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC).

Lenore Washington-Graham

Lenore Washington-Graham

To create goodwill and more recruiting opportunities, company managers are enlisted to participate in job fairs, speak on panels and represent the network at conferences. "It's really important to network with people, and then the culture and our brands sell themselves," Cookson says. "We're known in our industry as a great place to work with great people," Washington-Graham adds with pride.

Each of the Scripps networks has its own website; the division plans to launch as many as ten broadband channels this year. Jobs for all the networks are posted on every career page. Candidates can search by job, network or city.

Life is busy at Scripps Networks. "We've been in startup mode for the entire twelve years I've been here," Cookson says with a laugh. HGTV was launched in 1994, the Food Network was acquired in 1997, and DIY launched in '99. Then came Fine Living and GAC.

"When I was hired there were less than a hundred employees and now we're at 1,200. That means 100 to 125 new jobs created and filled every year," Cookson notes. "We've promoted many employees over the years, either within their own networks or by creating new opportunities within the organization."

Retention is high at Scripps Networks. Over half the senior managers have been with the company a dozen years or more.

Cookson says that succession planning is an important key to this kind of loyalty. Her group meets regularly with network presidents to determine opportunities, training and certifications within their groups. Mentoring opportunities also are made available to minorities and women.

The corporate setting in Knoxville is a very attractive part of the Scripps Networks culture. Knoxville was recently ranked fifth on the Forbes lists of top cities for business and careers. The HQ features a lake on one side and a golf course on the other. Plus, to attract techies, "Our multi-media infrastructure is state of the art," Cookson concludes.



Headquarters: Knoxville, TN
Employees: 1,200
Revenues: $900 million
Business: Lifestyle media content for television, the Internet, publishing and emerging media


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