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People's Companies That Care In Conversation with Mike Eagles, Comcast NBC Universal

Tina Johnson, Senior Editor, People and Mike Eagles, Comcast NBC Universal

Learn how Comcast NBCUniversal built a great workplace culture by leveraging inclusiveness to drive innovation that has positively impacted consumers, employees, and communities.

Key takeaways:

  • Learn how a culture of innovation and focused on diversity through inclusion empowers employees to feel invested both in their own success and the success of their company.
  • Hear how Employee Resource Groups play a big role in supporting the development of game-changing products.
  • Understand the importance of enabling employees to support each other and their communities.
Show Transcript

Tina Johnson:               

Thank you very much for being here. It's a pleasure to see you all. I have no doubt that you're all very familiar with People Magazine, whether you've seen it on the newsstand or enjoyed our vast digital content. I'm sure  you're also familiar with our celebrity coverage, whether it's an inside look at Meghan Markle's glam baby shower or all the latest news from last week's Oscars. But celebrity isn't all that we do. A very big part of what we cover is all about celebrating ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Week in, week out, we highlight people who have helped their communities in amazing ways and, in the process, have become true heroes in their own right, often by putting their communities and others ahead of themselves.


It was this slice of the People brand that inspired us to start our Companies that Care list in 2017. We wanted to celebrate companies and businesses that were doing extraordinary things along those same lines and reward them with our new accolade program. We wanted to acknowledge them for going the extra mile for their employees and their communities through charitable giving, support and outreach, and generous and inspired benefits programs. We wanted to recognize that many businesses today are proving that you can make a profit and make the world a better place, all at the same time.

So, we partnered ... yes. Thank you. So, we partnered with Great Place to Work and surveyed over 1,000 companies across the country to find firms that best show respect, compassion, and concern for their employees and their community. The companies that make the list are then featured in a special editorial package in the magazine, and their stories are also rolled out across all of our digital platforms. People's audience reaches over 100 million, so it's terrific exposure, and it's certainly well-deserved. We're incredibly proud to showcase all the great work being done by all of our companies that care.

Which brings me to the reason why we're here today. Comcast served a spot ... sorry, earned a spot among the top 10 on our list this past year thanks to their amazing community efforts, especially in response to some of the recent natural disasters, and specifically the California wildfires here this past fall, which I know probably affected a lot of people here. They also do an exceptional job of providing inspiring and innovative opportunities for their employees to contribute directly to the company's growth and product development. That's led to a great feeling of shared success and achievement for everyone involved.

Here to talk about all of that with me is Mike Eagles.

Mike Eagles:                    

Hi.

Tina Johnson:                     

Hello.

Mike Eagles:                    

Thanks.

Tina Johnson:                     

Mike is the senior vice president of human resources for Comcast and oversees labor and employee relations, as well as employee engagement programs at the company. Busy guy, Mike.

Mike Eagles:                    

Yes, yep, with 150,000 employees, sure.

Tina Johnson:                     

Oh, yeah. Okay.

Mike Eagles:                    

We don't have any problems. No issues.

Tina Johnson:                     

Let's start by talking a little bit about the shared environment at Comcast, which is shared among employees and customers. What makes that work, and how does that add to your success story?

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah. Thanks, and I'm glad here to represent the 150,000 Comcasters. We've been on a journey over the last several years to make customer experience our number one product, our best product. Whether that means the reliability of our products, making sure that they work, or improving our customer service. But of course, a great customer experience starts with a great employee experience. We can't expect our employees to care about our customers unless we show that we care about them. So, one of our key strategies from a business and HR perspective is to make sure we're listening to our employees and taking their feedback seriously and acting on it. In fact, we do a bimonthly survey where every leader in the organization gets feedback, and then huddles with their employees and provides them responses to all their feedback.

Tina Johnson:                     

That's terrific. That's terrific. Of course, keeping your employees engaged that way means getting them directly involved with everything from quality control to product development. What are some of the ways that you guys provide those opportunities? I know from People's coverage that your employee resource groups do exceptionally well in that way, so maybe you can talk a little bit about that?

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah, sure. We have over 30,000 employees who participate in employee resource groups. I think we're up to over, maybe 157 of those groups.

Tina Johnson:                     

Wow.

Tina Johnson:          

We know from the results on our annual employee engagement survey that they're among our most passionate and engaged employees. Every chance we get to find out what they think and get feedback on a whole host of things, we do it. That even includes product development. When we're developing new products, we reach out to them, get their perspective. I think the most well-known example of that is our X1R voice remote, which really has transformed the way that people interact with their TV, whether it's people with disabilities, senior citizens, my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, unfortunately. But there's an ERG called the MyAbilities Network, which champions causes for disabled persons and their allies. They were intimately involved in developing that remote.

Tina Johnson:                     

That's great.

Mike Eagles:                    

Another example was our VetNets, our veterans network. They came up with a great idea around hiring military spouses.

Tina Johnson:                     

Wow! That's terrific. That is such an underserved group or population. It's so core to our military service and our military programs. That's amazing. That's wonderful.

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah. I think that the data shows that they're willfully unemployed military spouses. I think their unemployment rates are around 20 percent. That's because companies are a little bit wary of hiring them because they move a lot. But our VetNet group came to us and said, "Hey, why don't we hire them as virtual call center agents? That way, whether they move, it doesn't matter. They can do that from wherever."

Tina Johnson:                     

That's brilliant. Seems like such a no-brainer, too. [crosstalk 00:06:32].

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah, well, none of us have come up with it, so clearly, they should be in leadership. We've ended up hiring dozens of military spouses, and not surprisingly, they're among our best performers. They have much lower turnover rate, and have a great success. We've hired a ton of people in the D.C. and Baltimore area.

Tina Johnson:                     

Wow. Yeah. That's brilliant. Congratulations. Well done. Well done. As I mentioned in the intro, Comcast, you guys are doing a ton to support people inside the company, but you're also making a huge difference in the world outside. I think we can all agree that oftentimes, those two efforts kinda dovetail and really produce an even better result. I think your Internet Essential program is probably a great example of that, if you wanna talk a little bit about that?

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah, sure. Internet Essentials is probably our most successful community-based program. We have helped connect six million low-income households to the internet.

Tina Johnson:                     

Wow. That's a big number.

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah, it's a big number. We all take for granted the connectivity, and we get frustrated when our wi-fi doesn't connect immediately, but a third of low-income households don't have a data or internet package. We provide a service, it's $9.95 a month. We also offer computers at discounts, so, $150 or less, and then free digital literacy training to-

Tina Johnson:                     

Wow!

Mike Eagles:                    

- some of the unfortunate folks, yeah.

Tina Johnson:                     

I have to say, even though they're a company that cares, I am genuinely impressed. That's amazing. Digital literacy training is ... that's life-changing for people. That's amazing. How do your employees get to contribute to that?

Mike Eagles:                    

We have a role called Internet Essentials ambassador, where employees can volunteer. I think we have about 2,500 of them. They volunteer and they host events in their community at local schools, at churches, and they provide that training that I talked about for free.

Tina Johnson:                     

That's amazing. That's great. Again, things that are really changing lives overall. This seems like a pretty good segue into what I had mentioned earlier, and the Comcast team and what you guys did for both employees and customers who were especially hard-hit during the fires.

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah, so, some of you in the room, obviously from this area, the Camp wildfires last year were the most devastating in the history of the state.

Tina Johnson:                     

I believe it, yeah. Wow.

Mike Eagles:                    

The town of Paradise was basically ... didn't exist afterward. Just like other employers, we were heavily impacted. 80 of our employees were impacted or affected by the fires. Eight of our employees lost their homes and were evacuated. Internally, we made a big effort to make sure we were in touch with them, all 80 folks, called them twice a day. We put up the eight employees in hotels for as long as they wanted. Obviously, this was around the Thanksgiving holiday, so we provided Thanksgiving dinners for all of those employees.

Tina Johnson:                     

That is so nice. Sometimes just creating that feeling of home and tradition in the middle of a crisis, it makes such a huge difference for people. So supportive. That's great. Unfortunately, though, that wasn't the first time you guys had to pitch in for people who really needed help. There was Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma both before that where you guys did some spectacular support work and service. It was amazing.

Mike Eagles:                    

Yeah. Unfortunately, our consumers and our customers, our employees have just been hit by too many things. In Houston and in Florida and here in California. I mean, even in the news the last couple days with the floods up in Sonoma County. I mean, it seems like it's happening way too often these days. Unfortunately, fortunately, we've had so much experience that we've built some playbooks, almost like operational playbooks around this. In Northern California last fall, we were able to immediately light up 50,000 wi-fi hotspots for the community to use. That's how people get in touch with the ones they love these days. It's not the telephone anymore. Apologize to my AT&T fellow in the back, but so, we were able to light those up. We power the CAL Fire Command Center and do some other things to make sure people can stay connected in the times of need.

Tina Johnson:                     

Yeah, that's so critical. Communication in those crisis moments is really kinda ... whether you're searching for loved ones, rescue efforts, it's really a matter of survival for people. It's amazing. Yeah. But you did even more than that, 'cause you point an example at the Boys and Girls Club, I think. You did some really nice-

Mike Eagles:                    

Oh, sure.

Tina Johnson:                     

- heartfelt work there.

Mike Eagles:                    

Sure, yeah. So, the North Valley Boys and Girls Club was severely impacted by the wildfires last year. 22 of their 34 staff members were impacted and lost their homes as a result of the fires, and they were going to cancel their holiday event. The Boys and Girls holiday event was not going to happen. We were fortunate enough to have the resources to step in to help support that event, and even our CEO, Dave Watson, flew out to participate in it. I think we have a video of that event to show everybody kinda the impact that we're fortunate enough to be able to have.

Tina Johnson:                      

Yeah. We'll go to the video.

Dave Watson:                 

California with the Paradise fire was a very, very difficult situation.

Kyle McSlarrow:             

We just feel deeply that the loss that a lot of people have experienced, we know we can't do anything about that, but what we can do is provide our support and services to the best of our ability and just try to help.

Dave Watson:                 

It is an honor to be here. To see a community pull together like this is just awesome. For the kids of the Boys and Girls Club, we got a little present for you, so come on up.

Audience:                        

Thank you.

Dave Watson:                 

We wanna make sure we invest in the communities, we stay committed to the communities. So, the least we can do is give back. The least that we can do is help, and most certainly, we rebuild.

Kyle McSlarrow:             

To have one evening where the kids forget about fires was just really remarkable.

Speaker 6:                       

It's so amazing to watch the whole community come out. It's absolutely overwhelming. Just to kinda get away from everything and have a sense of normalcy for a minute.

Ed Marchetti:                  

It's a long journey for the Paradise community. Comcast, the employees here, the leadership team here in California, and the company are behind Paradise 100 percent. We'll be here for the long haul.

Speaker 8:                       

It's just really fun and I like how they do this for all the people.

John Gauder:                  

There are 22 staffers on the Boys and Girls Clubs who lost their homes in the fire, and we don't wanna forget them tonight, either. Many of our employees have also been directly affected by the fires. It's in honor of them that we have and will continue to support all the disaster relief efforts that will take place in the North Valley.

Bill Strahan:                    

We absolutely see team support, whether it's events like we are at tonight with the Boys and Girls Club, or whether it's making sure that people have shelter, people have places to get a good meal.

John Gauder:                  

The California region is full of superheroes. They put on their capes every single day and help everyone around them. I'm so proud to be a part of the California team.

Tina Johnson:                     

All right, and we'll be handing out the boxes of tissues now. Can I come work for you guys?

Mike Eagles:                    

Sure, absolutely. Take a pay cut, though.

Tina Johnson:                     

Seriously, thank you very, very, very much, Mike. This is excellent. You guys are doing amazing work. Of course, Comcast programs and benefits are just some of the many inspiring initiatives that the companies on our Companies that Care list have to offer. Thank you so much for listening to both of our stories today. Hopefully, this will inspire you all to make your business a company that cares. Thank you.