CBS, the broadcast television network, is taking various steps to advance diversity and inclusion, right through from executive appointments and writers’ rooms to how it approaches measurement.

Radha Subramanyam, chief research and analytics officer at CBS Corp. and the president of CBS Vision, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) 2020 AUDIENCExSCIENCE Conference.

“Being America’s largest and most-watched network, we take diversity and inclusion incredibly seriously and feel the weight – not the burden, but the privilege and responsibility – on our shoulders,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s report: How CBS is embedding diversity and inclusion in strategy, programming and measurement.)

“We’ve always tried to stay abreast of where the consumer is and where America is. And now we’ve made very public announcements and commitments to really put our money where our mouth is.”

As an example, CBS has partnered with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to develop scripted, unscripted and documentary content.

The network has also pledged it will spend a quarter of its scripted development budget on programming created or co-created by members of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities from the 2021/22 season.

Similarly, CBS plans to have at least 40% BIPOC representation in writers rooms from 2021, with the target raised to 50% by the 2022/23 season, while also boosting representation for writers on shows for the 2020/21 season.

Internally at CBS, Subramanyam reported: “We evaluate ourselves as leaders on a range of diversity-driven KPIs [key performance indicators]. They’re morphing and changing every single day. But the commitment remains deep.”

One tool for tracking performance at CBS is the Gender Equality Measure (GEM), as developed by the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) #SeeHer initiative.

More specifically, this is a score that gauges consumer reaction to the treatment of women in advertising and programming so that media owners and advertisers can ascertain the impact of their efforts.

“We’ve also developed our own version of GEM scores for BIPOC representation. These are put into every pilot, every promo test, and all the work we do,” Subramanyam said.

Sourced from WARC