What is the hidden diversity dividend, why is it hiding, and what can be done to bring it into the open? Those were some of the questions addressed by a panel of experts from top media companies and associations in a session titled “The Hidden Diversity Dividend,” which is part of the CMO Insights series.
The panel was moderated by Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient, and featured panelists Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, Consumer Technology Association (CTA); Antonio Lucio, chief marketing officer, Facebook; and Stephanie McMahon, chief brand officer, WWE.
The group discussed what personal biases anger them the most, which led to the group discussing ways that they work to create change in their own businesses. For McMahon, a big issue is how women in wrestling were seen as secondary or even tertiary participants. But when the WWE’s “#GiveDivasaChance” hashtag, named for what women wrestlers were called at the time, trended for three days straight, it was loud enough for Vince McMahon, the company CEO, to hear it and affect change. Divas were re-launched as the Women’s Division, with the headliners now known as Superstars, just like the men.
But despite the efforts, the panel agreed that we are not fully inclusive and have a long way to go when it comes to diversity. When asked how they move the needle, Chupka said, “At CTA, we are trying to share best practices. We have 2,200 corporate members from small startups to companies like Facebook and WWE. We are behind closed doors sharing these best practices. It is an important role we get to play as an association. Associations can help.”
“The power of collaboration—sharing the good, bad, and ugly,” added Zalis. “If we all do it together, it is a lot less scary.”
When discussing how difficult it is to fill positions with a diverse team, Lucio mentioned that “[At Facebook,] our efforts have been more successful in non-engineering roles than in engineering roles. Engineering is very competitive, but I believe that is the case in all our fields. When you have bosses that represent the group you are looking for, then you will get more employees like that.”
Picking up on that point, McMahon added, “Only 4 percent of media sports representation is women. You are not seeing what woman athletes are doing.”
“Why is it so hard to do 50-50 highlight reels in sports?” asked Zalis.
“Accountability factor,” answered McMahon. “You have to be willing to take the risk, be brave, and try something new.”
“Our role as leaders has to be to create those opportunities for growth,” concluded Lucio. “We need to create the space and demonstrate that it is a feasible business proposal. The leaders have to create the room for the risk.”
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