How media companies can make inclusion and equity a priority

Companies wanting to get more serious about really driving a culture of inclusion and equity will find a workshop at the upcoming Elevate! conference insightful and useful.

Nancy Lane


Inclusion and equity have long been challenges for media companies, but in recent years more and more are working to make them priorities. It’s one of the reasons that several hours are being dedicated to the topic at Elevate! in a workshop and lunch funded by the Google News Initiative.

We caught up with LMA President Nancy Lane, who, along with the Local Media Consortium, is putting together the program:

Why did you decide to offer an Inclusion and Equity Workshop at this year’s Elevate! conference?

The media industry has a terrible track record when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. As we started planning this year’s Elevate! event, we wanted to make this a top focus on the opening day.

We worked with our partners, Local Media Consortium and Google News Initiative, to make this happen. We are very grateful to Google for underwriting the costs and providing scholarships.

This year’s workshop has a powerful lineup. Can you tell us a little about the topics and the speakers?

Tracie Powell


Mekka Okereke


It’s a powerful lineup indeed. We’ll start with Mekka Okereke, engineering director for growth at Google Play, who has built the most diverse team on the engineering side for Google. He’ll inspire and challenge us.

Next up is Tracie Powell, senior fellow with The Democracy Fund, who will make the business case for equity and inclusion. This Georgetown law school graduate will also touch on how media impact communities of color. Powell is a compelling speaker who will take us out of our comfort zone. I can’t wait for her presentation.

Brian Baker


Christy Harris


We will end with a fascinating conversation with Christy Harris, vice president talent acquisition and inclusion/diversity, Allstate and Brian Baker, partner, U.S. digital workforce leader, Mercer. Allstate deputizes everyone to be a champion of diversity — there is much for us to learn.

When it comes to building diverse and inclusive teams or companies, what are some of the secrets these companies might be able to share with Elevate! attendees that are working for their companies?

We have a Chief Diversity Club, funded by the Google News Initiative and led by Mercer, that meets every other month via video calls. During these calls, we have learned a lot.

Most media companies we work with do not offer unconscious bias training. This is a real miss and a must-have for any company that is serious about diversity and inclusion. Recruiting a diverse workforce requires different approaches including how job descriptions are written. Internships need to be paid. I’m sure that our speakers will touch on these issues and more.

Diversity and inclusion can have a significant positive impact on a company’s overall business. How will attendees leave with an understanding on steps they can take to move their business forward in this area?

We want attendees to walk away with new and actionable ideas. All of the speakers will provide practical advice and tips. At LMA, we announced publicly-stated KPIs a year ago in order to improve our own diversity goals.

We set out to have 50 percent women on both our boards by 2021. In September, we will not only hit that goal (a year early), but we will easily surpass it (56 percent). We also set a goal to have six underrepresented leaders on our boards by 2021 (we had two at the time). In September, we will be at five with just one more to go by next year.

I believe the best thing a company can do is state the goals and then hold itself accountable. Once we did that at LMA, it happened. It became everyone’s job to recruit a diverse and inclusive board.

You can register for Elevate! by clicking here.