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Embracing Diversity in Media is Not Negotiable – Here’s Why

By 3p Contributor

It is no secret that the media industry is experiencing an unprecedented level of disruption. This has upended legacy business models, but has also created a wave of new opportunities. To successfully navigate this changing media landscape, the industry needs bold ideas and innovative strategies brought to life by broad and inclusive talent cultures.

Our ambition for Bloomberg Media Group is to be the world’s leading business and financial media on every media platform and relevant geography, all in service of Bloomberg LP. Given the diverse nature of our businesses, I view it as my responsibility to constantly foster a team culture that is inclusive and inviting for people of different backgrounds and perspectives.

Bringing a global perspective

I was born to American and British parents, raised abroad and only came to live in the United States for the first time for high school and college. I have had the opportunity to live in many different countries including China, France, England, Indonesia, and Burkina Faso in West Africa. Around age fourteen, I became fascinated with Mandarin, studying the language and learning to write traditional Chinese characters.

Having spent my early career abroad, I found it challenging to integrate myself into American culture when I returned to New York for my first US-based role. Even though I was born an American citizen, living abroad for most of my life gave me a global perspective from the start. It’s something I came to cherish as I transitioned into American culture and into the largest media market in the world.

Becoming a bridge to Bloomberg’s Communities

My life experiences have instilled in me a deep appreciation for the power of diversity in making organizations richer and stronger. I believe that it’s an essential truth that when different perspectives are brought together, the end result is substantially greater. In charting a course through a changing media landscape, we need to be radically open to new ideas and approaches. What works well in one country or on one media platform may not work in others.

This belief has reinforced my commitment to diversity at the highest levels of our corporate mission and serves as my motivation to become actively involved in our communities at Bloomberg. As the Executive Sponsor of Bloomberg’s Pan-Asian Community, our mission is to develop and retain Pan-Asian talent, highlighting the diversity of this culturally rich region, and inspire employees to continue to expand the company’s footprint in the global Asian professional business community.

Diversity & Inclusion efforts and employee resources groups, like the Pan-Asian Community, are critical to ensuring we have the right people in place to support the long-term success of our company. We can’t continue to turn to the same voices every time. No company, let alone a media company in search of new models and approaches, can afford a culture where people instinctively shoot down diverse, challenging ideas and “off-the-wall” concepts.

Setting the tone from the top

People do their best work in companies where they are happy, where they feel fulfilled and where they feel respected. People want to feel connected to their work and to the mission of their organization. Leadership is about creating these types of environments where people can thrive and do their best work.

We are social creatures, and we are most effective when we’re all working together to achieve great things that advance the collective cause. A leader’s role is not only to map out the strategy, but to set the tone for the entire enterprise.

In assessing a leader’s ability, we have to look not only at what they do, but how they do it. Do they lead from the front? Do they roll up their sleeves? Do they model the type of behavior essential to creating a work culture that is not just successful and efficient, but also inclusive and tolerant, where respect and selflessness are valued?

Leaders have to do this work day in and day out. It’s not enough to talk about what you want the company to be — you must represent it.

As someone who has watched news and media radically change, I have come to understand the strength of having a variety of voices at every level of an organization. Media organizations must be open to change and uncertainty, and be comfortable in a place where we’re constantly incorporating new perspectives and challenging the status quo. I see this as our primary responsibility and the only way for our business to continue to be successful in the future.

Justin B. Smith is Chief Executive Officer of Bloomberg Media Group. He is also the Executive Sponsor of Bloomberg’s Pan-Asian Community.

Originally published on Bloomberg.com  and distributed by 3BL Media.

Photo: Bloomberg

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