Comcast has an overall workforce makeup of 36.6% women and 45% people of color. This is because the telecommunications company is “intentional” in its hiring and recruitment practices, says Loren Hudson, senior vice president and chief diversity officer for Comcast Cable, a division of Comcast Corporation.
But diversifying its workforce is not enough. Comcast has an extensive infrastructure to support an inclusive culture. The telecommunications company has nine employee resource groups, coaches for leaders, a speaker series, a DEI day, mentorship programs and more.
In April 2021, Hudson was promoted from human resources vice president to her new role at the organization. As the company’s first chief diversity officer, Hudson is responsible for executing Comcast Cable’s DE&I strategy.
During an exclusive conversation with Senior Executive Media, Hudson talked about how Comcast builds an inclusive team and culture — including DEI training for company leaders. Read the edited conversation.
We’ve started providing our leaders diversity, equity and inclusion coaches that specifically had this specialty, and it’s a safe space.Loren Hudson, Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Cable
Senior Executive Media: What are your performance metrics for DEI initiatives — and how are you tracking your leaders’ DEI commitment?
Loren Hudson: I think there are metrics that we all can pay attention to [like] hiring and promotions. We do employee satisfaction surveys and focus groups. We’re an organization that seeks feedback from all levels of our organization… After listening to employee feedback, an enhancement was launched on Comcast’s business card ordering site, adding an optional field for a person to select their pronouns. This addition to the business card selection process helps ensure that all employees can craft a business card that reflects their authentic self, inclusive of their pronouns.
The other piece that I would say is that I truly believe that we have to engage in dialogue to develop our leaders. It really should be an open dialogue of how we can support you along your journey, because leaders need to be cared for. … We’ve started providing our leaders diversity, equity and inclusion coaches that specifically had this specialty, and it’s a safe space.
Senior Executive Media: What does DE&I coaching for leaders look like?
Through the CoachDiversity experience, select leaders are paired with an experienced executive coach of their choice who is not only certified in diversity coaching, but also brings more than 10 years of organizational leadership to help support ongoing personal and professional growth. These coaches challenge and guide individual leaders to help reveal their desired leadership style and help them stay accountable through action to their vision and values. The time commitment for this program is three months in the form of six, [one-hour-long] coaching sessions.
Tone Networks is a video-based learning and leadership development platform for women that provides expert content, live coaching and an exclusive membership-based online community. Currently, Comcast women and allies from our Women’s Network ERG participate in this program and receive curated content on a variety of topics, including customized monthly playlists based on shared themes from internal feedback and employee surveys.
Senior Executive Media: Explain the evolution of your DEI initiatives.
Loren Hudson: Our aspirational goals are having representation of 33% people of color within the organization and 50% women have representation at all levels. Today 36.6% of our workforce are women, and 45% of our workforce are people of color. And that’s because we have been intentional in our hiring and in our pipeline initiatives to increase diversity at all levels of the organization.
As of 2021, we reached the most inclusive employee representation in the decade plus we have been tracking diversity data. We recognize this is a continuous journey and there is more work to be done. That is what we are setting our sights on — ensuring leaders and colleagues have the right tools, resources and opportunities available to help us continue to make advancements towards our aspirational goal incrementally year-over-year.
[We’re] even looking at how we build our interviewing teams to ensure that there is a level of diversity there. In setting up diverse interview panels, they should consider someone that has enough knowledge of the department or role but offers a new perspective as well — for example, HR partners, Learning & Development partners, someone who recently supported their department on a gig/short-term assignment, or even someone in a similar role on another team. We also encourage leaders to leverage the DE&I programs and ERG networks within the organization or consider someone who may be a graduate of an internal talent program. It is about expanding their network and, equally important, ensuring that whoever is tapped to be part of the interview team has an equal share of voice as all other interviewers.
The other piece that I would say is that we also have a leader role, which focuses on building an inclusive team and culture that points out all the things leaders should be doing to really bring together inclusivity within their organizations. It’s focusing on mentorship and sponsorship. It’s focusing on your hiring practices and ensuring that they are diverse slates; that there are diverse interview panels; when you’re thinking about inline promotions, that there’s an equity lens there; that you are being a champion of DE&I learning journeys…and that you’re carrying that message forward internally and externally. [That allows] our internal colleagues all know that this is important to all leaders. Externally, people are seeing and hearing and listening to the investment that we’re making in diversity, equity and inclusion — not only with our people but on our platform with our customers and our communities that we are really trying to be a force of change…within our communities.
Senior Executive Media: How does Comcast structure its departments and initiatives related to DEI?
Loren Hudson: We have an impact and inclusion organization. So that is one…DE&I arm of Comcast, which much of the work falls under. To support that we have nine ERGs, and there are roughly 225 ERG chapters, with nearly 35,000 members across Comcast NBC footprint. They’re all employee-led. They focus on career development, community service, building an inclusive and diverse culture. We have diversity, equity and inclusion councils within our divisions in our regions and immediate headquarters, and those are individuals that really are focused on our pillar alignment, which is our customers, people and culture, community and communications..
Two years ago, we started our National DE&I Employee Advisory Council, which is made up of employees at frontline to mid-level leader standpoint, who join for a six-month rotation on a council that works directly with me on DE&I initiatives. It gives them an opportunity to work on a real DE&I issue or solve either a project that we’re trying to lead or something that we’re trying to stand up.
Some recent examples of projects that our National DE&I Employee Advisory Council has helped to guide include partnering with our talent team to help us launch the Comcast Career Hub to generate company-wide awareness of developmental tools and best practices, such as completing a Career Profile and Career growth plan; and working closely with our DE&I team to develop a hybrid employee resource group programming strategy as we support our ERG members through virtual and in-office experiences.
Senior Executive Media: Tell us about the annual DE&I Day that Comcast hosts.
Loren Hudson: We look forward to bringing together employees across Comcast for our third DE&I Day on April 27, . It is a time to build deeper understanding within our teams and company about diversity, equity and inclusion and engage in thoughtful dialogue, collective education and sustained action. The 45-minute employee broadcast will feature a shared learning experience focused on the importance of inclusion safety, a featured speaker and teammates who have demonstrated inclusive leadership over the past year. Following the broadcast, teams are encouraged to huddle for 30 minutes to continue conversations. Following the event, we will share bonus content and video modules to help drive our DE&I learning goals further and support daily application of knowledge and skills.