Cesar Conde, the new chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, outlined a workforce goal of 50% diversity on Tuesday, telling employees that as “a news organization we have a unique responsibility to reflect the country and all of the communities we serve.”
“The NBCUniversal News Group is not going to wait for change to happen and just react to it. We’re going to lead,” he said in a video to employees on Tuesday. “As a news organization, we have a unique responsibility to look like and reflect all of the people of the country we serve.”
He said that the goal is for 50% of the news organization employees to be women and 50% of their total workforce be people of color, with plans to boost recruitment and education programs and to invest in more documentaries and investigative content focusing on communities of color. The 50% goal is long term, with no exact date set to reach it, but he said that progress would be reported publicly every year.
Conde said that the workforce of the entities he oversees – NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC – is 26.5% diverse.
“That’s better than most in our industry – but it is not good enough,” he said. The workforce currently is 8% Black, 8% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 2% multi-racial and less than 1% Native American. When it comes to gender, he said that their workforce is nearly 50% women.
He said that the goal will be to increase diversity in front of and behind the camera and to “earn the trust of every community in America that relies on us for exceptional journalism.” he said.
“I don’t want us to just be good enough in this moment. I want us to be the best, and to have others look to our practices, our creativity and our ingenuity and say, ‘That’s the model we want to replicate. They are the best and we want to be like them,'” he said.
The plan includes increasing openings in their “pipeline programs,” like news associates, as well as “broadening our searches to ensure we reach more candidates of color.” At NBC News and MSNBC, the plan also includes such things as hiring 50 staff roles and decreasing the reliance on freelancers, and tripling the number of regional reporters.
“We will put an emphasis at the senior producer level as well as entry level to ensure we are building a strong pipeline of future leaders and highly qualified individuals,” he said. “And we recognize that to create economic diversity within our ranks, we will need to be creative in compensating Interns, News Associates and entry level employees.”
The plan also includes boosting education programs, via NBCUniversity, with an “online curriculum of master classes (at no charge) to aspiring journalists and producers (inside and outside our organization) who have not had the benefit of getting exposure to our business via school or internships.”
He said that they will be asking teams at NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC to create longform content focusing on Black America and other communities of color.
“These are not only Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American issues,” he said. “They are simply American issues. A better understanding of the history, impact and experience of others makes us all smarter and stronger.”
At NBC News and MSNBC, the goal is for 50% women among guests and experts, and to 40% people of color. At CNBC, the plan includes permanently increasing representation by at least 10% “in anchors, reporters, guests, contributors, sources and Prime talent to better reflect qualified candidate pools,” according to slides outlining the action plan.
He also said that the network would look to partner with people and organizations outside the company for projects, with the National Urban League and Black Girls Who Code cited as examples, and to work more with vendors owned by women and people of color.
Conde said that their progress toward the 50% goal will be reported annually and that diversity would become part of management’s performance metrics.
“Currently, when we review and compensate our management team, we take into account important performance metrics such as ratings and operating cash flow,” he said. “Starting with our next assessments in early 2021, we will add progress on diversity to the performance metrics of the leadership team.”
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