Verna Meyers said, “Diversity is inviting someone to the party, and inclusion is asking them to dance.” Loren Hudson, Sr. Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast Cable, has directly applied that invitation to her organization. Hudson has opened her metaphorical dance card, ensuring every team member is seen, heard, and welcomed through impactful services, meaningful conversations, and challenging the status quo.
On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Hudson took the stage at the Jake Jabs Event Center as the second speaker in Denver’s Multicultural Business Series “Align with America’s Emerging Majority” hosted by CU Denver and XL Edge. As she clicked through slides highlighting key milestones for the cable giant, she aired a poignant clip where the speaker vehemently states, “Diversity and equity mean nothing without inclusion.” This year marks the most widespread inclusivity that Comcast has ever had. With over 20 years at Comcast under her belt and a labor-focused education from Rutgers, Hudson has a full suite of tools she has used to help position Comcast to serve its employees and customers best.
External Inclusivity: Products and Processes for All People
Comcast is powering up with products and processes with all people in mind. This holistic approach is filtering into their practices across the board. They recently provided 10 million low-income families access to broadband, a connective tissue for social togetherness in the wake of the pandemic. Their outreach has extended further with Comcast’s Life Zones, centers where students can access the internet, educational resources and career opportunities. Comcast showcases multicultural content and its creators with programming like the Founding in Color series presented by Black Experience on Xfinity and Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs. They also recently launched Comcast RISE – a multi-faceted program offering monetary, marketing, and technology grants – created in 2020 to strengthen and empower small businesses hard hit by COVID-19. Comcast RISE recently reached its goal to support 13,000 small businesses owned by women and people of color by the end of 2022.
Internal Inclusivity: A Space for All to Succeed
Looking inward, Comcast keeps employees at the center of its focus. The company recognizes the importance of the high-touch work they do with customers. To help give employees a voice, Comcast provides both external and internal DEI councils, the former building company transparency, partnering with various experts to gain constructive feedback. The latter council rotates internal employees every six months, offering employees rare access to C-Suite execs. Members retain their council involvement in an advisory capacity after their term to build on previous work.
Their most notable internal practice, though, is Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) which seek to foster inclusion and amplify voices of marginalized groups. Employees can establish community and come together to have meaningful conversations, further develop their careers and find a greater sense of belonging. Hudson noted that these ERGs were the first to catalyze online communities during the pandemic. These groups range from LGBTQIA+ to veterans to their newest addition, Indigenous. Each group has the intention to find common ground and celebrate differences.
With Comcast’s gig program, employees can apply to diversify their portfolios and learn new skills with short-term experiences or project-based opportunities. Hudson admits that even with degrees and tenure, she was interested in exploring other opportunities at one point. “I had all of my certs, but I got into gigs, and now I’m in a new role at Comcast.” A new role, indeed. As a VP at Comcast Headquarters, she is passionate about how gigs provide impactful experiences, career pathing, opening positions that people can connect with, leading intentionally, and augmenting diverse talents.
Comcast offers other outreach through digital platforms, newsletters, and its podcast (Moments that Matter). It even kick-started DE&I Day, an annual event in which tens of thousands of employees come together to build a deeper understanding of DE&I across the company and highlight employee stories. Comcast has also launched coaching programs to help diverse leaders build careers and inclusive teams.
Applications in the Face of Adversity
Hudson emphasized the importance of talent recruitment as a cornerstone to advancing diversity. She encourages companies to ensure that the application process and employee experience are DEI-focused, from how interviewers use language to the job requirements, like academic degrees. Hudson challenges organizations to utilize diverse interviewing teams early in the process as it typically yields greater diverse candidate retention. She can vouch for that in her own experience. With her first Comcast interview hosted by a Black woman and a Black man in HR leadership, she said, “I saw myself in Comcast. It gave me a sense of belonging.”
A Legacy of Learning
The effort has substantially impacted its workforce. Trans woman and Comcast tech Hannah Winkler said these practices help make it better for the next person. As for her, “There is a place for me.” Armando Martin of XL Edge praised the cable company and Hudson’s efforts, “You have to earn cultural credibility. It’s where the rubber hits the road… very few have invested in the way that Loren and Comcast have.”
Hudson acknowledges that employees cannot push forward without the support of leadership. She knows how essential it is that leadership has the appropriate knowledge and skill set around inclusivity, unconscious bias, and lens of equity to meet employees where they are. “If we invest in our people, we create a culture of inclusion,” Hudson said.
Hudson invites companies to continue learning; be transparent; use data to help drive decisions; support structures that encourage positive cultural shifts; bring awareness to DEI issues and support leaders in understanding the value of DEI. She is proud of Comcast’s story because it is the story of people, not only in the organization but in communities and the world.