Dec 02 2009

“10 Questions” Featuring Josie Thomas Senior Vice President Diversity CBS Corporation

Laurie N. Robinson (Vice President & Assistant General Counsel, CBS Corporation) interviewed Josie. Here are her “10 Questions.”

#1: What were the various positions you held at CBS and how did you become involved in your present position of Senior Vice President, Diversity?

Josie: I started off as Broadcast Counsel for the Law Department of CBS Inc., where I worked with Entertainment, Sports and News divisions. Thereafter, I was promoted to Director of Business Affairs, CBS News and then promoted to Vice President, Business Affairs, CBS News.

In 2000, I was promoted to the newly created position of Senior Vice President of Diversity reporting to Leslie Moonves. I have a comprehensive role that focuses on effective ways to improve diversity throughout each business unit. In this role, I work to enhance the Company’s record of diversity both inside and outside of the organization. Further, I work on initiatives to improve outreach to diverse vendors, professional service suppliers and talent in front of and behind the camera.

#2: To date, what is your proudest and most memorable accomplishment at CBS?

Josie: I am proud about my role because it involves impacting lives on a daily basis. For instance, I created the CBS Diversity Institute, which focuses on improving the representation of talent both in front of and behind the camera. The Institute has resulted in our launching 26 careers for writers of color. I also launched Actor Showcases, which resulted in actors’ landing more than 270 roles on cable and network television. To date, my proudest moment was when Byron Pitts was promoted to correspondent on “60 Minutes” and the Evening News — I served as one of his mentors during his early years at News.

#3: What has been the defining moment in your career, and explain how it shaped who you are today?

Josie: When I was promoted to the top role of Business Affairs of CBS News and became an integral member of senior staff. It was my first significant opportunity to have input into the decision-making process. It enabled me to help shape news.

#4: What do you like and dislike about lawyers?

Josie: I am a lawyer by trade; therefore, I have to say that I love lawyers, and I know some great people who are lawyers. As for my dislike: some lawyers are risk adverse and that extra cautiousness slows down the process of finding creative solutions.

#5: If you were not performing the work you now do, what career would you have pursued?

Josie: I would be a sportscaster for football.

#6: What is the most exhilarating part of your job?

Josie: One of my other job duties entails interfacing with a wide range of community and advocacy groups. This work is exhilarating in that it allows me on behalf of the Company to engage in constructive dialogue with our diverse constituents. The exchange often results in our moving our initiatives forward such as focusing on sensitivity and awareness in our programming.

#7: What impact (if any) do you think President Obama’s presidency will have on our industry?

Josie: I think the successful campaign of President Obama and what will, hopefully, be a two-term presidency will have a significant impact on all industries, including ours. He has created a reality that many thought they would not see in their lifetime. He has also brought a vibrancy and honesty to the discussion of race not only by his example but by his comments. Our industry will hopefully benefit from the elevation of that conversation and the clear demonstration that diversity only contributes to the workplace and the programming.

#8: When you are not working, what do you like to do to relax during your down time?

Josie: I love sports. In my free time, I am in front of the television watching a game. I also like to read and travel.

#9: What would people be surprised to know about you?

Josie: I spent a significant portion of my early years studying the violin and traveled too on tour with the Minnesota Youth Symphony.

#10: What is your all-time favorite television show on CBS?

Josie: “60 Minutes.”