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NBC News Boss Pledges to Make Staff 50% Women, 50% People of Color – But No Timetable

Conde, the chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, oversees NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC

NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde on Tuesday pledged to create a more diverse staff, setting a goal of 50% female staff and 50% people of color but without a clear timetable to reach that aim.

It’s not immediately clear how soon Conde hopes to reach his diversity goal. Nearly half of the news division’s 3,000 employees are women, Conde said in a video message accompanying a memo to staff, while 26.5% are people of color — among them, 8% are Black, 8% are Hispanic, 8% are Asian, 2% are multiracial and less than 1% are Native American.

“We want to increase diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and earn the trust of every community in America that relies on us for exceptional journalism,” Conde said in the video. “We realize that this is an ambitious objective and it will of course take time to do in a proper way. We understand this is a challenging time to start this effort but there are always reasons to say, ‘Not now.’ To get there tomorrow, we have to start today.”

Over the next 100 days, Conde said the network’s News Group leadership would seek feedback on their “action plan and how we should hold ourselves accountable.” At the end of the 100 days, Conde said the group would convene to review “progress, potentially add to the plan and collectively decide on the key metrics to track our progress.”

In the action plan are “five pillars” focusing on investment, education, content, partnerships and measurement. Included in the action plan are the creation of new roles and the expansion of pipeline programs, free online masterclasses for interested journalists and producers who haven’t had previous experience with the industry through school or internships and investments into long-form documentaries and investigative programs on “issues that have impacted Black America and other communities of color,” Conde said. And beginning in early 2021, Conde said News leadership’s performance metrics would also include “progress on diversity,” and that the division would publicly report its progress toward the 50% staffing goal.

Conde became the head of NBC News’ operations in May, succeeding former chairman Andy Lack and assuming a newly created role that oversees NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC.

Read the memo below:

Hey all,

Over the past several weeks we have covered a country reckoning with systemic inequality and the painful consequences of a long history of racial injustice. Thanks to your hard work and skill, we have reported on this difficult moment thoughtfully, connecting audiences with context and insight at a time when it is desperately needed.

During times like this, I know we all feel a heavy responsibility to our audience. But we have another important responsibility to meet as well – to each other and the news organization we all value. That’s why we have spent so much time over the past few weeks looking inward, asking tough questions and examining what we should be doing differently in our own house. It is clear from those conversations that there is a reservoir of good will and righteous intentions within our walls. It is also clear that the time for action is now. Our introspection and dialogue must continue, but on a parallel path we will lay out a plan for an even more inclusive workplace. And we will start executing now.

Today, I want to share with you the details of our Fifty Percent Challenge Initiative. As you know, the pace of demographic change in America is accelerating. As a news organization we have a unique responsibility to reflect the country and all of the communities we serve. Simply put, we aspire to achieve two concrete goals: that 50% of our News organization employees be women and 50% of our total workforce be people of color.

To achieve these goals, we have developed a detailed action plan based on your feedback in our many discussions. This plan has five pillars: investment and recruitment, content, education and development, partnerships, and measurement.

I hope you will take a few minutes to watch the accompanying video message and review the details of our plan included in the below slides. Over the next week or so, we will join and convene meetings across the News Group to get your thoughts and answer any questions as we undertake this essential mission together.

Over the next 100 days, we will be asking all of you to provide feedback on our action plan and how we should hold ourselves accountable. At the end of those 100 days, we will reconvene as a group to review our progress, potentially add to the plan, and collectively decide on the key metrics to track our progress.

As a news organization focused on the future, we will not wait for that change to happen and then simply react. Instead, we will lead.

Take care,

Cesar Conde
Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group