Oct 31, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Special to TelevisionWeek

Benita and I worked together on the PAR Initiative, which focuses on improving pay, advancement and resources for women in our industry. Watching her work on crafting that initiative, I came away with an appreciation for her strategic thinking as well as her consensus-building capabilities.

The genius of the PAR Initiative-and I give Benita the credit for leading this-is that it focuses companies on benchmarks that will improve opportunities for women to be leaders. And by announcing the companies that best meet those standards every year, WICT creates awareness about PAR. This approach also plays to the natural competitiveness of our industry. Everyone really ratchets up their efforts to make that list of top companies.

One of Benita’s great gifts is that she listens very well. If you’re on a conference call with her, you may go through the entire call without hearing her voice. She’ll be listening to the other board members and the staff and hearing what they’re saying. And then she comes in at the end to lead everyone to a conclusion that takes advantage of their input.

I remember shortly after she joined WICT I invited her down to The Weather Channel for a day. Here was this world-class athlete who had won a gold medal, talking about how women should have more opportunity to expand and grow. The reaction to her was extremely positive. She had a lot of credibility as a woman who really walked the walk and became successful because of her desire to achieve and succeed.

Sometimes she talks about how we tend to put limitations on ourselves. For example, if an opportunity emerges to change jobs or change careers, we say, “Oh, I could never do that.” But Benita has shown through her accomplishments that anything is possible. n

Decker Anstrom is president and chief operating officer of Landmark Communications and chairman of The Weather Channel.