MyersBizNet supports and promotes diversity in media, advertising and entertainment through its Communities with Purpose: Women Advancing, 1stFive, Media All-Stars, Media Legends and Future Men. We are pleased to have Radha Subramanyam sit on Women Advancing's Executive Council leading Diversity Initiatives for women in media. With Radha's leadership, Women Advancing recognizes diversity as a priority for the future health of society and supports development of resources to advance diversity in media, marketing and entertainment.

iHeartMedia recently held the first iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, which brought together Latin music’s biggest names, including Ricky Martin, Pitbull, Becky G, Alejandra Guzmán and many others.

For many, Fiesta Latina was groundbreaking. The Los Angeles Times described it as “the rare festival that understood that it's pointless to cordon off Latin pop into a separate musical universe in L.A. The concert showed the real future of Latin pop in America.” But for iHeartMedia, which reaches almost 40 million Hispanic listeners per month, more than any other radio or TV outlet in the U.S., the event wasn’t just about being groundbreaking. It was also about listening to our consumers and, in turn, giving them exactly what they wanted to hear and see.

The iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina is the perfect example of the importance of knowing your consumer, especially for companies looking to tap into the tremendous buying power of minority groups and women. In today’s uber-competitive, consumer-driven media landscape, companies must utilize every advantage when it comes to attracting and keeping consumers. Unfortunately, many of these companies are overlooking the significance of who they hire and promote.

When organizations proactively promote a diverse workforce, benefits include broader audience penetration and employee retention. Executing a diverse environment benefits companies through greater growth, advancement and opportunities for all employees. As the diversity chair for Women Advancing, which focuses on connecting female professionals in the media, marketing and advertising industries, this subject is especially important to me. It is a topic we often discuss at our events, which have up to 30% diversity among attendees, well above the average for media industry gatherings.

Of course, the idea of a diverse workforce has been at the forefront of workplace discussions for years now and we’ve made great strides with all underrepresented groups, especially women. According to the United States Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, women made up just 47% of the total workforce, yet comprised 51.5% of all workers in high-paying management, professional and related careers.

We should applaud these statistics, especially compared with those from a generation ago, but we also must acknowledge that there is a long road to travel before we can truly congratulate ourselves on a job well done. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently apologized for his controversial remarks suggesting women not ask for pay increases and instead have “faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.” Unfortunately, the system is extremely flawed. A U.S. Census report from just two years ago found that women make 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts bring home.

Just as disconcerting is a 2012 study examining top leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies that was conducted by Catalyst, a non-profit organization focusing on women in business. For the third year in a row, women only held 14.3% of Executive Officer positions and, for the fifth consecutive year, two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies had no minority women on their board of directors.

This begs the question why. We can no longer use the excuse that there are no viable candidates. There are, but what are we doing to find and nurture them? Media executives need to take a good look in the mirror and ask why we are still failing when it comes to employing women and people of color in high level positions.

Even if executives aren’t noticing the lack of women in decision making positions, the younger generation is definitely well aware of inequality in the office. A 2013 Pew Research study found that 75% of Millennial women and 57% of men believe that the U.S. needs to continue making changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace. With Millennials, a generation more ethnically diverse than their predecessors, expected to comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025 according to Business Insider, their opinion matters.

Part of embracing a multicultural, inclusive, and forward-thinking environment is being committed to attracting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce.

There are steps we can take to ensure our employees more accurately reflect the rich diversity of the clients and marketplace we serve, including:

  • Think Beyond Quotas: Start looking at hiring the best person for the job. Make sure your Human Resources department gives you a wide range of candidates and don’t let preconceptions get in the way of hiring the best candidate.
  • Focus on Quality not Quantity: Discard the old-fashioned view of the nine-to-five desk job. With today’s technology, your workforce can be just as effective, maybe even more so, working remotely. This is important for all groups, whether it’s working mothers, Baby Boomers needing to care for elder parents or Millennials striving for a better work/life balance.
  • Celebrate Differences: Acknowledge your workforce’s diversity by creating a broader sense of inclusiveness. This could take various forms, such as pot lucks that reflect each employee’s heritage or celebrating holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan and Diwali.
  • Invest in Employees: It’s not enough just to hire more minorities and women. You must give them proper training and mentoring to help them reach their full potential. They’ll appreciate the investment. Although salaries will always hold some level of importance, a study of college students by PricewaterhouseCoopers discovered that training and development was the most highly valued benefit for employees, even higher than cash bonuses.

As global companies, we need to welcome, respect and most importantly celebrate our diversity and harness the various talent, perspectives and skills that each and every person brings to the team. By coming together, collaborating and sharing each unique perspective, it opens the door to new insights and innovation and is a powerful formula for success.

Radha Subramanyam is President of Insights, Research and Analytics for iHeartMedia. She is a seasoned media and entertainment executive with a significant track record as a thought leader in Media Research and Consumer Trends. She is one of the few executives who has touched all media platforms including television, digital, radio, and social media. Radha is known for her translation of research and insights into actionable strategies and results for the companies she works for as well as their clients and partners. Radha can be reached at radhasubramanyam@iheartmedia.com.

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