By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
In 2016, Janet Uthman was named to Ebony magazine’s Power 100, a distinction handed out to such notable African-American achievers as the Obamas, Lonnie Bunch, Melissa Harris-Perry and John Legend.
Other publications have featured her as a “mover and shaker” and now Uthman, a former corporate marketing director at BET, has transitioned smoothly into a new role at Comcast, as the division vice president of Inclusion and Multicultural Marketing.
“As the head of Inclusion and Multicultural Marketing for Comcast’s Northeast Division, I am responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as multicultural marketing strategies across the division,” said Uthman, who joined Comcast in 2008, as region director of product management.
Uthman’s division is spread across 14 states including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
She holds a master’s degree in business administration in marketing from the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from University of California, Berkeley and previously served as region sales director for the Disney Channel.
Prior to taking over her current role in October 2015, Uthman worked as vice president of Marketing and Sales at Comcast, where she gained a reputation for crafting competitive strategy and successfully building top performing sales teams, while delivering best in class results.
“This past year, I helped assemble a group of leaders across the Division who are committed to being champions of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our business,” said Uthman. “Together, we have continued to build on our initiatives to ensure all 22,000 of our employees across the division have an equal opportunity to succeed at Comcast and reflect the diverse communities in which we live and serve.”
The company’s Beltway Region Black Employee Network has also proven successful.
The Beltway Region, which includes the Washington, D.C. area, kicked off the Black Employee Network Employee Resource Group (ERG) last March to champion growth, development and opportunity for individuals of color, Uthman said.
“Understanding the importance of employee resource groups, the region also recently launched the Veterans Network, Women’s Network and Young Professionals Network, and is looking to include others,” said Uthman. “In addition to networking, these groups provide peer-to-peer mentoring, help drive business initiatives, as well as improve community relations, as several members are involved in local organizations around the Greater Washington, D.C. area.”
Uthman has also been busy offering guidance on programming and product enhancements that appeal to multicultural audiences, and looking for opportunities to meet with customers at various local events, recognizing that not all customer segments can be addressed with one general marketing message.
“We continuously look to create culturally relevant marketing ads, as well as expand our programming content to appeal to African-American and multicultural audiences,” Uthman said. “We recently added the Impact Network, ASPiRE and REVOLT to our channel lineup, as well as distributed an RFP to add two additional African-American majority owned networks by January 2019.”
Uthman continued: “We have also enhanced our products and services to make it easier for our viewers to find African American programming, including adding Black TV & Film, MLK Day and Black History Month folders to Xfinity On Demand.”
With respect to its engagement in local events, Comcast’s goal is to make authentic connections by supporting causes important to the communities it serves, she said.
In 2016, Comcast’s Beltway Region supported the Lake Arbor Jazz Festival in Prince George’s County, the Washington Informer Spelling Bee, Howard University Charter Day, Radio One Prayer Breakfast; the company also held a special viewing party for the NAACP Image Awards in partnership with TV One.
Comcast has also supported the African-American Festival in Baltimore and the Capital Jazz Festival in Columbia, Md.
Further, “Comcast Cares Day,” a celebration of the company’s year-round commitment to service, has grown to become the nation’s largest, single-day corporate volunteer event.
In 2016, more than 100,000 volunteers improved more than 900 parks, schools, beaches, senior centers and other vital community sites in 21 countries during the 15th anniversary of Comcast Cares Day.
In September 2016, the cable giant joined the YMCA of the USA in Philadelphia to announce a comprehensive $15.3 million partnership that combines the YMCA’s commitment to strengthening communities and improving the lives of children and families and the transformative potential of Comcast’s Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive internet adoption program, to help prepare the next generation for the future.
“We value our partnership with Washington, D.C. leaders and organizations to close the digital divide,” said Uthman. “We offer the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, Internet Essentials, which provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month, digital literacy training and discounted computers for low-income families.”
Uthman shared that Comcast announced last summer that the program’s eligibility standards would expand to households receiving HUD-housing assistance, including public housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Multifamily programs.
“This announcement means even more individuals, including seniors, veterans and adults without children, are now eligible to apply for the program,” said Uthman.
In five years, the Internet Essentials program has connected more than 750,000 low-income families – or more than three million Americans – to the Internet at home.
Uthman said her work remains cut out for her, but she’s up to the challenge. Her drive has already been acknowledged as she was named to Ebony magazine’s Power 100.
“It was a tremendous honor to be named alongside such luminaries. I was literally speechless when I heard the news,” Uthman said. “Ebony magazine was a huge part of my life growing up, as it was one of the few places to see positive portrayals of African-American people in the media at that time.”
While honors and accolades are welcome, Uthman said she’s most passionate about her job and what it entails.
“I love having the opportunity to build on and create new initiatives to ensure all our employees across the Northeast Division have an equal opportunity to succeed in the organization,” Uthman said. “I also enjoy partnering with our corporate team to create strategies to attract and retain multicultural consumers. This role is the perfect combination of my passion and my purpose.”