Mary Busby


2008 WICT PAR Initiative Survey Key Findings

The number of women in cable made modest gains in 2008. Women comprise 36.4 percent of industry employees, a slight increase from 2007’s 35.8 percent. Women comprise 36.6 percent of all managers and professionals, close to last year’s 35.8 percent, which included managers but not professionals. Women are 35.4 percent of all middle managers and professionals, compared to 2007’s 37.9 percent, which included managers but not professionals.

The number of women in senior executive positions dropped significantly in 2008. Women now comprise 22.8 percent of all senior executives — C levels (CEOs, COOs, CFOs, etc.,) and their direct reports. This figure represents a decline from 27.7 percent in 2007.

In spite of increased attention to business contributions that women make to their company’s bottom line, the cable industry has not grown its number of women since PAR launched. In fact, that number has dropped to only 36.4 percent despite women representing 51 percent of the American population. In 2003, women comprised 38.7 percent of the industry. The overall cable industry trend is declining numbers of women in all categories, except middle managers.

Pay Equity: Cable employers already renowned for exemplary pay equity practices continued to fine tune pay transparency and management accountability. Leading employers realize that middle managers are the first line of defense for enacting equal pay and are coaching and training them to consistently apply equal-pay policies. The industry continues to push pay equity forward.

  • In 2008, 56 percent of companies conduct formal pay equity policies and 41.2 percent have “good” pay equity policies — those aligned with business growth goals and that require accountability. The remaining 14.7 percent of the group have “basic” pay equity policies — generic policies that pledge gender pay equity.

Advancement Opportunities:  It is impossible to overestimate the importance of mid-career operating experience, and cable employers added a variety of avenues for women to participate in project launches, new product development, acquisition teams, and regional expansions. Leaders in advancement expanded the winning “business resource group” model showcased in the 2007 PAR Initiative, furthering the reach of internal business incubators and other ways to cultivate entry-level and mid-level female talent.

  • Leadership training is up for women at high and mid levels, with 81.8 percent of PAR participants offering this program to high level women, compared with 72.5 percent in 2006; and 81.8 percent of PAR participants offering this program to mid level women, compared with 80 percent in 2006. For entry level women, 69.7 percent were offered this program, which was a decrease from 71.4 percent in 2007, but an increase from 52.5 percent in 2006. 

Resources for Work/Life Support: Fluctuating gas prices are prodding employers to rethink how and when work is accomplished. The result is a wave of more responsive flexwork and telecommuting policies. Operators have taken the lead, reorganizing call centers to enable representatives to work from home and reaping a wide range of productivity and operating benefits in the process. Low-cost programs such as paid time off for volunteering and subsidized memberships in off-site wellness or fitness facilities also saw gains this year.

Women of Color: In 2008, the number of women of color in the industry remained essentially unchanged, accounting for 15 percent of all employees and 11 percent of managers. These women face a low glass ceiling. Represented most strongly in the first level of management ranks, their presence drops significantly at middle management and senior executive levels. A positive area for women of color this year is in business customer support centers.

Women in Technology: Women saw a 0.1 percent increase in representation in the area of technology. New media continues to be a strong area for technically oriented women. Women of color in new media lost significant ground, now comprising 8.3 percent of employees compared to 15.7 percent in 2007. The one improvement is female technology managers. The number of women IT engineers and project directors more than doubled this year. Companies are adding career coaching programs for women in technology and others are finding that business resource groups targeted at technical women encourage retention.

  • Women represent just 15.1 percent of technology employees in cable.
  • Women account for 36.8 percent of all new media employees industry wide, a decrease from 37.9 percent in 2007.

Women in Call Centers: The number of women in call centers has been declining for the past three years. Women now comprise 59.6 percent of all employees at operators’ call centers. This decline was also felt at the management level and the number of women of color at call centers. However, women in call centers will benefit from the great strides made this year in telecommuting and flexwork. Operators are actively exploring the “virtual work” model for their call center representatives. The push toward online training by some operators also is helping women at call centers advance their careers.

  • Women are 59.6 percent of call center employees, a continuing decline from 61.3 percent in 2007, and 61.7 percent in 2006.
  • Women are 55.6%, another continuing decline from 56.9 percent in 2007, and 58.4 percent in 2006.

WICT Call To Action
Despite strides made in implementing workforce policies since the PAR Initiative began in 2003, the loss of 2.3 percentage points in the number of women that make up the cable workforce from 2003 to 2008 reflects an alarming decline. The 4.8 percentage point drop in the number of women in senior executive positions for that same period further compels resolute action.

For 2009, WICT calls on the cable industry to reverse the trend of declining numbers of women in nearly all measured categories, and reclaim at least the position achieved in 2003. To recapture lost ground, WICT has advised participating companies to take a number of steps inlcuding:

  • Proactively design a holistic approach to seize advancement opportunities for women generated through anticipated growth from consolidation and emerging lines of business, as well as business as usual transitions. Such an approach would:
    • Plan two to three promotion cycles ahead to provide appropriate operational and development opportunities that will keep the pipeline filled with ready talent.
    • Cultivate mid-level managers with growth assignments, targeted (leadership, financial, operational) training, rotations into new business incubators and networking opportunities.
    • Identify “ambassadors” to build ongoing relationships with professional groups for women, women of color and women in technology in an effort to drive qualified referrals.
    • Finally, strike when the opportunities arise, and tap into the talent that the cable industry and WICT persistently continues to foster.

Through these concerted efforts, and by retrofitting established hiring practices, WICT is confident the necessary course correction will take place and the call to action will be achievable.