Comcast & Aspen Institute Once Again Partner to Present Symposium on the State of Race in US
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Comcast and The Aspen Institute Once Again Partner to Present Symposium on the State of Race in America
By David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Today, we are once again proud to partner with the Aspen Institute for the fifth straight year to present the Aspen Institute Symposium on The State of Race In America. The conference, which will be livestreamed, will explore new attitudes, opportunities, and challenges for and about people of color in 21st century America. It's been our privilege to partner with the Aspen Institute from the very beginning of this series in 2011 to convene these timely and relevant panels on a wide range of issues related to race in America today. Today’s speakers include FTC Commissioner Julie Brill, Milwaukee Police Department Chief Edward Flynn, MMTC CEO Kim Keenan, and MSNBC’s Richard Lui, among others.
Over the past five years, this Symposium has provided a critical opportunity to examine the issue of race in America. These last 12 months, underscored by the fatal tragedies in Ferguson, on Staten Island, and North Charleston, South Carolina, have brought us especially painful reminders of the distance between where we want to be on race relations and where we actually are. Today’s first panel is titled “Policing In America,” and as a lawyer and former chief of staff for Ed Rendell when he was Mayor of Philadelphia, I've had an up-close look at the disconnects that can develop between minority communities and the police officers sworn to protect those communities. As we’ve seen, these disconnects can have tragic consequences and I am really looking forward to hearing such a qualified panel discuss this critical issue.
The subjects of the other two panels today, involving access to high technology and employment diversity, are close to our day-to-day life at Comcast.
At Comcast, we're particularly concerned about the low-income, disproportionately minority families stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide without home broadband connections. That is why, in August 2011, we launched our Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income Americans. We recently announced that in the three and a half years since we launched the program, we’ve connected more than 1.8 million low-income Americans to the power of the Internet. And our surveys show that the vast majority of program participants are diverse, including over 50 percent Hispanic and 20 percent African American, meaning that tens of thousands of minority families have access to broadband at home for the first time through Internet Essentials.
On the topic of employment diversity, we're proud to be considered a diversity leader in the media and technology industries, especially when the workforces in so many industries fail to reflect our society. We strive to reflect the communities we serve at all levels – last year, our combined workforce across Comcast and NBCUniversal, was nearly 60 percent women and people of color including 47 percent diverse among our most senior executives. And our diversity efforts aren’t just internal – last year, we spent more than $2 billion with women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned suppliers.
We look forward to bringing Internet Essentials to millions of new families and extending our commitment to workforce and supplier diversity to new markets like New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Charlotte when our Time Warner Cable transaction closes. I'm confident we can and will continue to make racial progress as a country and discussions like these today are an important opportunity to advance the dialogue.