By Ursula Keating, Director, Workforce Diversity & Inclusion, Comcast Cable
Comcast was proud to take on the role of civic convener earlier this week by hosting our first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Summit at the Comcast Center.
The event brought together business and civic leaders from across our region to talk about how we can better ensure that our city’s business sector accurately reflects Philadelphia’s many and diverse communities. Wide-ranging panel discussions focused on everything from supply chain diversity to creating a talent pipeline for tech jobs in Philadelphia. The meeting provided a unique opportunity to hear from nonprofit leaders like Sharmain Matlock-Turner, CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, and the presidents of our local chambers of commerce.
As part of this summit, I was honored to participate in a forum about leveraging multigenerational workplaces. Dr. Deborah Diamond of Campus Philly led the panel in a fascinating discussion about the opportunities that open up when employers foster a workforce across many different age groups.
I was able to share Comcast’s commitment to fostering leadership opportunities among our company’s young professionals – it’s one of our deepest commitments. Brian Roberts, after all, took leadership of Comcast from founder Ralph Roberts when he was only 30 years old.
I also spoke on Comcast’s Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs. Part of my job is to manage our company’s eight ERGs, which provide crucial networking, mentoring and service opportunities for members of the many communities that make up Comcast’s diverse workforce – from LGBT employees to African American professionals and veterans to millennials like myself.
Elizabeth Morrison, the Global Director for Workforce Diversity at Campbell Soup Co., served with me on the panel. She shared the innovative idea of inter-generational mentoring. Younger employees and older employees regularly talk about intergenerational differences in workplace culture, as well as expectations. These conversations, Morrison said, have eased tensions around issues including whether it’s appropriate to listen to headphones while in the office and have fostered cross-generational relationships.
Other panels were similarly insightful. I was particularly gratified that my colleague, Bob Smith, Vice President for Community Investment for Comcast’s Freedom Region, pointed out that affinity groups, like Comcast’s ERGs, can help companies develop products and market them to diverse audiences by providing internal sounding boards that are representative of different communities. And Steven Bradley of the African American Chamber of Commerce spoke passionately about the continued challenges minority-owned businesses have of breaking into important government-contracting sectors.
David L. Cohen, Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President, opened up the summit by calling it an experiment – a new way of concentrating our civic attention around a crucial problem facing Philadelphia. He called on all of us to take what we’ve learned back to our institutions and continue to implement changes in our workplaces. I’m confident that all of the attendees came away with a plethora of new ideas and a renewed sense of purpose around diversity.