For 40 years, The Walter Kaitz Foundation has put advocacy into action for women and people of color in the ever-evolving cable and media industries. It’s our bedrock, the core of what we do. Twenty-twenty has been both all-consuming and pivotal. A global pandemic has never simultaneously intersected with international outrage about systemic racism. As an industry-leading advocate that has forged conversation, distributed more than $20 million in targeted grants and funded vital research that supports equity and inclusion, we’re eager to learn from these unfolding developments, be more responsive to change and make an even greater impact going forward together.
COVID-19 continues to be a public health threat with more than three million Americans infected. We have chosen to cancel the 37th Annual Kaitz Fundraising Dinner in consideration of our members, guests and staff. Our signature event has been halted, but our commitment to grantmaking that bolsters opportunities, representation and equity for cable and entertainment industry professionals remains our constant.
“The pandemic may prevent us from enjoying an event we look forward to annually, but we will not allow the virus to interrupt our grant-giving and fundraising imperatives. Our support of key grantees—including the Emma L. Bowen Foundation, National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC), the T. Howard Foundation and Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) —will continue in full earnest,” said Executive Director, Michelle Ray. “We are being more strategic and deliberate now as we are more than just a dinner. We are providing thought leadership and critical grants to support equity and inclusion that does not dissipate because we’re not gathering in a ballroom.”
As part of our annual convening through a series of conferences and events hosted by partner organizations, known as “Diversity Week,” we, together with the cable industry’s anchor organizations, are collectively moving ahead virtually to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at a social distance. As always, it will be an aggregation of professionals from across our entire industry—essential employees to C-suite leadership—pushing towards one narrative, in one collective voice to underscore the necessity of equity and inclusion, learn best practices and effect quantifiable results. We view Diversity Week as more than a gathering, it’s a movement.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something
In recent weeks, we have been inspired by the industry’s response to the demand for racial justice and change. Comcast/NBCUniversal is developing a multiyear plan by allocating $100 million to fight injustice. On Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., BET launched “Content for Change,” a $25 million social justice initiative, in an effort to dismantle systemic racism and inequality. Others, like WarnerMedia, are pulling racially insensitive content from their lineups and introducing more diverse viewing options as national advertisers are discontinuing and rebranding products. Organizations of all sizes have followed suit.
“In the wake of the larger societal change happening around us, it’s important that we continue to chip away at the walls in front of us. If we all continue to do our respective work, we’re all contributing,” Ray added. “Diversity matters now more than ever. More importantly, we cannot waiver from what we have been tasked to do, which is to continue to drive change and expand our narrative around diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Read the full Diversity Week announcement here.