Rhonda Nesmith Crichlow is Senior Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer of Charter Communications, a leading broadband connectivity company known to its 32 million customers through its Spectrum brand. Ms. Crichlow is responsible for the overall strategic development and implementation of Charter’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and oversees the company’s Community Impact function.
We sat down with Ms. Crichlow for a conversation on Charter’s comprehensive D&I strategy and what a true commitment to D&I looks like.
Why are diversity and inclusion important to Charter’s success?
Diversity and inclusion make us more competitive, and allow us to not only understand, but respond to the unique needs of our customers. Charter’s 93,000 employees serve more than 32 million customers in 41 states, providing critical connectivity and entertainment. Our success hinges on serving our diverse customer base, and doing that means our workforce and partners must mirror our markets. Our culture also has to enable employees to support each other and bring their best thinking forward, which drives innovation and better business decisions.
How do you operationalize D&I efforts?
We have a D&I strategy that touches every aspect of our business. It’s built around five pillars with associated goals, and we regularly measure our progress. Our model promotes shared accountability and responsibility for diversity and inclusion at multiple levels of the organization. We also have a D&I Executive Steering Committee that is comprised of our company’s most senior leaders, an External Diversity & Inclusion Council that advises us on implementing our strategy, and our Board of Directors reviews our progress annually.
How does the D&I strategy support people of color?
For customers, we offer programming that meets their unique interests, and we consistently focus on growing relationships with diverse media companies like Stellar TV and The Word Network. For our communities, one of our signature philanthropic initiatives, Spectrum Community Investment Loan Fund, fills financing gaps for small and minority-owned businesses through partnerships with community development financial institutions like those run or recommended by the National Urban League and the National Action Network.
Across the company nearly 50% of our employees identify as people of color and 33% are women, but we recognize there’s still more to do. We have customized diversity action plans for each business, which employ targeted approaches to recruit and advance diverse talent, from early career to senior roles. We’re also growing our relationships with HBCUs, leveraging diverse recruiting partnerships, utilizing diverse talent slates and partnering with organizations like the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications on training and development, which complements our internal efforts. Our Business Resource Groups also offer our employees mentorship, professional development and networking opportunities.
What career advice have you found particularly helpful?
Often, people assume that if you work hard and perform well you will be rewarded, which is true but only half the story. Strong performance is foundational, but that alone doesn’t get you to the top. You also need support for career ambitions, which requires mentors who challenge, sponsors who advocate and leaders who create safe spaces to explore career goals and development ideas. Optimally, mentors, sponsors and leaders should represent different backgrounds and perspectives within and outside of your current organization, enabling you to make strategic decisions that support your full development and advancement.
What’s next for Charter’s D&I efforts?
While we’ve made significant progress, we want to further drive our D&I strategy even deeper into the business. Whether you’re a senior leader, a supervisor or an individual contributor, we want everyone to lead on D&I from wherever they stand.