In late August David Porter began his new job as the executive director for the Walter Kaitz Foundation, which raises money for the cable industry’s major diversity associations. Mr. Porter previously served as the director of graduate programs for the Howard University School of Business and also worked as an assistant professor at the UCLA Anderson School. While there he served as faculty director as well as co-creator of the UCLA African American Leadership Institute and helped develop the Executive Leadership Development Program of the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications. He has also worked at Amoco, Pacific Bell, and Xerox. He has a Ph.D. from Harvard and a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford.
On his second day in his new job he spoke with TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney about the upcoming dinner and the work he hopes to do to further the cause of diversity in the cable industry. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.
TelevisionWeek: What are your goals for Kaitz?
David Porter: Right now I am still in the process of getting settled into my office. I wouldn’t say I have specific goals right now. I think that would be presumptuous to come in without going around and talking to the various players within the industry to really come up with initiatives that would build upon the consensus that already exists in the industry.
TVWeek: What do you want to do during the rest of the year?
Mr. Porter: The next few months it’s really going out and talking to folks and getting well grounded in the industry and in the efforts people are already making. These are companies that already have various types of diversity efforts. And then find the best places where the Kaitz Foundation can have value.
TVWeek: What do you think the cable industry is doing well when it comes to diversity?
Mr. Porter: It’s hard to speak to the industry as a whole because it’s so large. The fact that it recognizes the importance of pursuing leadership opportunities for different audiences like women and people of color, and a lot of industries don’t do that, I think that’s really positive.
TVWeek: What is your overarching vision with diversity?
Mr. Porter: If you are an advocate for diversity you can think of diversity in the labor force, supplier diversity, diversity of people in front of the camera. … Clearly we are going to do things in a lot of those areas. The thing we need to figure out is what to focus on next. The cause of diversity is a huge one, and there are lots of things to be done, so the question is where should Kaitz put its time and energy.
TVWeek: What is entailed in figuring that out?
Mr. Porter: Going out and talking to folks. From there we will have some in-depth conversations with our board to make sure we have some consensus on potential directions based on those conversations. Based on where we can do that, then what are the initiatives and partnerships that we can bring to bear to accomplish those goals? One of the things that is the most important to advocate diversity in the industry at large is you can only be successful if you come up with a cohesive plan that everyone buys into.
TVWeek: How would an industrywide effort work?
Mr. Porter: Kaitz does some significant work in supplier diversity. We work with people who handle the supply chain, people in various cable companies, to understand the importance of supplier diversity and how it helps them add value. The other part is helping the diverse suppliers know what they need to do to have access to the cable companies, so we do activities aligned at both to create that marriage. … If I am a company and working with a number of suppliers and I have each vying for my business, then each brings a different perspective; I have a wide universe and better selection. [Cable companies] will get better products. More competition is always a good thing.
TVWeek: Talk to us about the work you did before Kaitz.
Mr. Porter: First I was a professor at UCLA … and was developing executive education programs. UCLA became known as a place where people of color and women could enjoy executive education. When NAMIC was developing its executive leadership program, UCLA was selected as the organization to put it together, so I was actually the director.