Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at the Closing Gala of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. Across the Comcast family of companies, we have a clear and proven track record of serving the Hispanic community and last night I had the opportunity to reiterate that track record and to express our excitement about being in a position to extend our commitment to diversity and providing innovative business service solutions to millions more Americans once our transaction with Time Warner Cable closes.
The USHCC represents the interests of 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses across the nation and we’re proud to work with many of them. At Comcast, we’re built to serve businesses – our Business Services division is the fastest growing business at the company and we’ve emphasized developing products like Wi-Fi, faster Internet speeds, as well as cloud-based IT solutions and voice services that are optimized for businesses, many of which are Hispanic owned. We’re proud of the robust support that our transaction with Time Warner Cable has garnered amongst business organizations across the nation – more than 100 local Chambers of Commerce have submitted letters in the record detailing their work with Comcast in their communities and supporting this transaction. For example Omar Duque, President and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said, “Comcast leaders have shown us with actions – not just words – that they are committed to strong Hispanic communities as they increase opportunity for Hispanic business leaders in their supply chain, in their workforce, and on their board of directors.”
At Comcast and NBCUniversal, we are proud to be a leader in diversity and inclusion and strive to reflect the communities we serve. We recruit, retain, and promote Latinos at every level of the company. Today, Hispanics make up 12 percent of our overall workforce. We’re aggressively expanding the business we do with diverse suppliers and regularly award contracts to Latino businesses of all sizes. In 2013 alone, we spent $1.3 billion with diverse business enterprises, including with more than 600 Hispanic business enterprises, and we increased the amount spent with diverse businesses by 24 percent over three years. And through Comcast Ventures and our Catalyst Fund we are working to cultivate and fund the next generation Latino entrepreneurs with innovative start-ups.
Programming is a significant part of our commitment to diversity. We are the largest and best provider of independent Latino programming in Spanish and English, with as many as 60 Latino-focused networks in Spanish and English on most of our cable systems. We’ve substantially expanded our carriage of diverse cable networks, including expanding carriage of nine different Hispanic networks by 17 million subscribers since 2011, and we’ve launched several new diverse networks, including two independent Latino networks – Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey and BabyFirst Americas, which is focused on helping Latino families with young children. We’ve also invested heavily in the first-of-its-kind XFINITY Latino Entertainment Channel, providing Latino-relevant content that is available to over 20 million subscribers. This year, the recently re-launched NBC UNIVERSO carried the first-ever Spanish language broadcast of the Super Bowl which drew over a million viewers. And because of the substantial investment we made in rights fees, Telemundo and NBC UNIVERSO are the official broadcaster for Spanish-language coverage of the FIFA World Cup events in the U.S. Finally, later this year we will launch the XFINITY guide in Spanish.
I also had the chance to update the Chamber on our signature community investment priority, Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income Americans. The Chamber has been a valuable partner in our rollout of Internet Essentials. We recently announced that in the three and a half years since we launched the program, we’ve connected more than 1.8 million low-income Americans to the power of the Internet. According to our surveys, 52 percent of the program participants are Latinos, meaning that tens of thousands of Latino families now have access to broadband at home for the first time through Internet Essentials. Moreover, as a complement to our Internet Essentials program, we have invested more than $225 million in community-based digital literacy programs to help close the digital divide, reaching over 3 million people since 2011.
We look forward to serving more Hispanic owned businesses and expanding our commitments to diversity to the country’s largest Latino markets like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and El Paso when our Time Warner Cable transaction closes.
David L. Cohen is the Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast.
(l-r) David L. Cohen, Rep. John Lewis, and Javier Palomarez