Guest Commentary: The 2009 Election: A Mole of Inclusion

Nov 16, 2008  •  Post A Comment

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States less than two weeks ago, a seismic shift took place. It was a cultural shift, a shift in power, but also a shift in strategy as the country witnessed the most inclusive presidential campaign ever devised.
His base was expected to include record support from African American voters, but what may not have been expected was the votes he won from men, women, Latinos, Asians and whites. Diversity and inclusion were integral to his campaign from day one, and that translated into votes and financial support from America’s diverse spectrum.
I personally am very proud that it was multicultural, multigenerational supporters who led President-elect Obama to secure more votes than anyone in U.S. history.
Throughout the campaign, President-elect Obama connected with voters by acknowledging the election “has never been about me; it’s about you.” By doing this, he raised a mirror to the public and reflected back their concerns, their aspirations and their agenda.
Advances in politics often are emulated by popular culture, and the model of inclusivity is recognizable in the consumer demand for it to be about them.
Our industry has responded to this demand through personalized video experiences, from time-shifting to multiple platforms. Resources devoted to understanding how, when and what our customers want are impressive indeed.
Also, there are sizable budgets devoted to analyzing the “who,” as the consumer behavior of various segments is extensively studied.
Yet in the midst of this resource commitment, the behavior of 51% of the population is typically approached only as an afterthought.
Women make an estimated 80% of consumer spending decisions and are projected to control $12 trillion to $40 trillion within the next 10 years through income earned and inherited. In a turbulent economy, strategic companies fully explore promising revenue streams and insulate themselves from too much dependence on one segment or product.
The good news is that women really connect to new media and products that can sustain and even grow the bottom line. A few recent stats bear this out:
—Rentrack data reflected that VOD orders for female-targeted content tripled from first quarter 2007 to third quarter 2008.
—The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 53% of American women have broadband access in their homes, while Internet marketing researcher comScore reported that, with the exception of political sites, sites aimed at women grew faster than every other category. Advertisers responded with 4.4 billion display ads on women’s sites in May alone.
—Nielsen Mobile noted that the number of American women using smart phones more than doubled to 10.4 million, a faster rate of growth than for men. Verizon Wireless projects 71% of women make the decision about their family’s wireless choices and recognizes women as the pathway to the entire household.
Reaching this powerful segment must be a priority. Women understand the consumer experiences of other women, and companies that are not inclusive of women at every level and every stage will not win their portion of this revenue pie.
Engaging women in the development strategy, design, execution and marketing of products ensures that women’s purchasing and usage behavior are being considered from inception, rather than as an afterthought.
An inclusive approach means real commitment and strategically integrating women throughout the organization.
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that each hiring decision is likely to impact the company for the next five to 10 years, and since many hiring decisions occur in silos, there is no one tracking from a global perspective to see hiring patterns emerge.
As Women in Cable Telecommunications releases the results of the 2008 PAR Initiative for Pay Equity, Advancement Opportunities and Resources for Work/Life Support this week, one key recommendation is for companies to proactively design an approach that seizes opportunities for women.
An organization must apply clear criteria to its talent-development efforts to align a diverse hiring and advancement strategy with the overall business goals.
If growth in new-media revenue is projected for 2009, then attracting and advancing the talent necessary to achieve or exceed that goal needs to be part of the ’09 plan as well.
Just as the election of Barack Obama acknowledges a broadened, more inclusive identity for our country that will continue to emerge throughout his presidency, so must our industry represent all segments of our customer base.
This election has established a profound expectation of pluralism. America is no longer recognized as one voice, but rather many voices in (perfect or discordant) harmony. Companies that understand this expectation and respond with a similar harmony of talent will find their place in today’s America.
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley is president and CEO of Women in Cable Telecommunications.


  1. Nice blog.keep up the good work.

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