Female executives and senior-level managers in the cable telecommunications industry have made “measurable progress” in employment opportunities since 2015, according to a new survey. It also found that the representation of minority professionals in the cable industry “exceeds the national benchmark at all levels” — except on boards of directors, where representations “is on par with the national benchmark at 15%.”

A summary of the survey found that the current proportion of female executives and senior-level managers at the 24 top cable telecommunications companies is “significantly higher (38%) than the comparable national benchmark (30%).” And among the 19 companies that also participated in both its 2015 and 2017 surveys, the percentage of female executives and senior-level managers increased by 5.5%.

The joint biennial survey was conducted by Mercer, the human resources consulting firm, for Women in Cable Telecommunications and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications. It was underwritten by the Walter Kaitz Foundation with the support of the industry.

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According to the survey, women make up 34% of the full-time employees among the top 24 companies, which together employ an estimated 67.5% of the cable telecommunications industry’s total workforce.

“Women are being recruited at higher rates than men and promoted at near equal or higher rates,” the survey found. “And while the turnover rate for women is higher than for men at every level, it has improved since 2015. Projections by Mercer indicate that if current workforce dynamics persist, the female population at the manager level and above is expected to remain flat over the next five years and increase by one percentage point in the next 10 years. This outcome could be improved if organizations are able to retain women at the same rates as their male counterparts.”

Said WICT president and CEO Maria Brennan: “There is measurable progress in a number of areas for women, specifically at the senior manager and executive levels, where the industry outperforms other industries. However, there is still work to be done. The key driver for women to achieving parity with men in other areas continues to be better employee retention. Though we are pleased to see improvements in this area in 2017 that results in projected growth over the next 10 years, improvement will be faster with better strategies and programs to improve retention. Overall, the survey underscores the need for WICT and the industry as a whole to remain resolute in our commitment to parity – not only as the right thing to do, it pays dividends for companies as well.”

The survey found that people of color  made “gains at all levels” of employment across the 19 top companies that participated in both the 2015 and 2017 surveys, with the largest increase coming in the percentage of minority executives and senior-level managers, which increased by 7.8% since 2015.  It found that minority executives outpaced the national benchmark by nine percentage points, and that minority professional outpaced the national benchmark by seven percentage points.

The survey, however, found that “promotion rates for professionals of color continue to be lower, though improvements have been made, while turnover rates remain higher than for their white counterparts across the responding organizations. However, due to significantly higher hire rates for people of color, the industry population is expanding. Projections by Mercer indicate that if current workforce dynamics persist, the population of people of color at the manager level and above is expected to increase by roughly two percentage points in the next five years and five percentage points in the next 10 years. This outcome could be improved if organizations are able to retain and promote people of color at the same rates as their white counterparts.”

Said NAMIC president and CEO Eglon Simons: “While there is evidence that our industry is committed to increasing multi-ethnic diversity, continued vigilance and commitment will be essential as we move forward. The lower rates of retention and lower rates of promotion being experienced by professionals of color threaten to undermine hard-fought gains. We should be encouraged by the increase in executives and senior managers of color. However, efforts to enhance advancement and retention will play a key role in improving these statistics. In addition, companies must determine the underlying reasons for poor retention and put programs into place for improvement.”

In 2015, the top five programmers for the employment of people of color were BET Networks, Discovery Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group, NBCUniversal and Turner. The top five operators were Bright House Networks, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications, Midcontinent Communications and Time Warner Cable.