Drink, Dance, Donate: How Viacom Gave Back and Got Down for the 8th Year in a Row

“Everyone on the left side of the room say, ‘Give back,’” shouted Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, addressing a constellation of nearly 200 Viacom employees and nonprofit partners, all gathered in the White Box at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters one evening in early December.

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish rallies the crowd at Give Back & Get Down VIII during his opening statements. Photo by Emil Cohen.

“Give back,” the crowd roared.

“Now everybody on the right side of the room say, “Get down!’”

“Get down!’”

After this rhapsodic rallying cry, Bakish began his opening remarks for our eighth annual gala of goodwill: Give Back & Get Down.

“Every year, Give Back and Get Down reminds us to celebrate the qualities that embody the Viacom spirit: empathy and engagement for the communities in which we serve,” said Bakish, applauding our Office of Global Inclusion (OGI), Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Corporate Social Responsibility (Viacommunity) department for their concerted efforts in organizing such a festive and fruitful event.

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Your Authenticity Is Your Superpower, and More Insights From HERE Presents: Breakthrough Women in Sports

Asani Swann is the vice president of business strategy at Melo Enterprises, the multi-million-dollar organization of NBA All-Star athlete Carmelo Anthony. She’s also a woman of color.

Swann entered the male-dominated sports management industry armed with a bevy of professional experience in branding, contract negotiation and business partnership from her previous career at Macy’s. She had her MBA. And for the first time in her life, she lost her voice.

“There weren’t a lot of people who looked like me,” said Swann, speaking to nearly 250 Viacom employees and guests at HERE Presents: Breakthrough Women in Sports, a panel discussion sponsored by our employee resource group for women (HERE).

“When I walked into a room, people would ask me if I had gone to college,” said Swann. Other times, they’d ask if she was somebody’s girlfriend.

But Swann didn’t stay silent for long. She learned to alchemize negative energy into personal empowerment. Her career thrived, and so did her soul.

“Authenticity,” said Swann, “is my superpower.”

HERE Presents: Breakthrough Women In Sports panelists share wisdom from their success in a male-dominated industry. From L-R: Lisa Borders, Jaymee Messler, Stephanie McMahon, Pam Kaufman, Constance Schwartz-Morini and Asani Swann. Photo by Matthew Levinson for Nickelodeon.

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BET Leads With 5 of 10 Viacom Execs Named to Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women in Cable List

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“You have women in these pages who have made it their mission to lift others up,” wrote Cablefax editor Amy Maclean in their November issue, which was dedicated to the most powerful women in cable. “Women who are pioneering technological innovation. Women who are shrewd negotiators. Women who are speaking up in boardrooms. Who knows… maybe one of the Most powerful Women in Cable will someday be elected to the most powerful office in the land.”

We are proud to note that 10 of those women – and three of the top 50 – work for Viacom. That half of these get-things-done executives come from BET, including CEO Debra Lee, is unsurprising, given that network’s reputation for recruiting women to direct some of its most important programs. Earlier this week, Essence wrote a salute to the outsized impact that black women show runners – including Being Mary Jane’s Erica Shelton Kodish – were having on the television landscape.

BET is hardly alone in celebrating women. CMT, whose senior vice president of operations, Suzanne Norman, made the list, recently launched its annual Next Women of Country to showcase the best new talent in a genre that remains male-dominated. Viacom hosts a resource group open to all employees that is committed to championing women’s interests, and the company regularly partners with organizations such as Safe Horizon and Joyful Heart Foundation that assist women in need and promote women’s rights.

Underscoring the diversity that powers Viacom, many of these women also appeared on Cablefax’s recent list of top minority executives: Lee, BET CMO and marketing executive vice president Vicky Free, and BET programming executive vice president Zola Mashariki. Two other BET executives – Maureen Guthman and Connie Orlando – made the adjacent “Influentials” list.

We congratulate these dedicated women and thank them for their tremendous contributions to Viacom’s ongoing success. Click through below to see why Cablefax chose each of these individuals as industry standouts.

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Viacom’s Sarah Nix Is HERE to Give Back to Her Community

She grew up as a Girl Scout and a Special Olympics volunteer whose father donated to United Way and passed his spare change to panhandlers on family trips into Manhattan from suburban Sleepy Hollow, New York. As an adult, she set up charity galas, helped manage amfAR’s silent auction to benefit HIV prevention, and joined the planning board for the National Hemophilia Foundation’s silent auction, Denim and Diamonds.
Still, something was missing from this life of community engagement. “You don’t have the direct service element,” said Nix.

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Viacom Art Show Celebrates Female Creativity

​Stepping into The Wellness Studio on March 29 for Viacom’s Creative Arts Showcase felt more like walking into a trendy, Lower East Side art gallery than a fitness center. Instead of yoga mats and free weights, the studio boasted a deejay booth, open bar, and mood lighting. The showcase featured a diverse array of film, photography, and fine art from the women at Viacom in honor of Women’s History Month.

HERE, Viacom’s Employee Resource Group for women, chose 19 female employees to showcase their bold, captivating work. Guests mingled throughout the room, munching on cheese and crackers and admiring everything from watercolors rock photography to Lego purses.

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Guests enjoy a marvelous gallery. Read More

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The artists. Read More

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Deejay Anora mixed beats to keep the crowd entertained all night. Read More

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Guests admire Ra-Re Valverde's eclectic work. When she's not capturing the gritty, raw energy and passion in New York, she works for MTV and is a contributing photographer for Essence Magazine. Read More

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Whimsical artist Alyssa Thompson shows off her extraordinary Lego purses. Read More

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Erica Romero loves to experiment with alternative artistic mediums. Read More

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Zevit Aaron started creating photographs in high school, and has enjoyed showcasing her artwork ever since. Zevit's photography contains abstracts, portraits, and landscapes that have been digitally manipulated. Read More

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Guests are captivated by Wendy Heisler's doodles. Heisler has dabbled as a writer, photographer and animator. Read More

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Photographer Lyndsi Vasquez has a deep appreciation for the humanity of urban living. Read More

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Ivette Urena is a fine artist in Brooklyn, New York. Her artistic process began as a child, during nights of watching her father draw at the kitchen table. She'd sit with him to hone her artistic talent. Read More

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Janice McDonnell is a painter who looks for beauty in undesirable places. She's showcased traditional landscapes of the Gowanus Canal. Read More

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When Caryn Reynolds isn't leading a team of technical architects and engineers for her day job at Viacom, she's busy painting bucolic scenery. Read More

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Ivette Urena shows off her vibrant landscapes. Read More

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Jennifer Marigliano has been working at VH1 since 2008, and photographing amazing talent along the way Read More

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Event organizers Rita Omokha and Deva Newman are joined by Khadijah Sharif-Drinkard, Shanell Parrish-Brown, and Courtney Oliver Read More

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Deva Newman and Rita Omokha facilitated the sold-out event. Read More

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The video showcase featured six of HERE's talented artists. Read More

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An Inside Look at Viacom’s Bath Packs for Flint Charity Event

On Wednesday, March 16, I joined several Viacom employees, along with our Employee Resource Group HERE, to create care packages for families affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. We worked through Shower to the People, a charity organization run by the nonprofit Family to Family, which assists impoverished families in America by uniting them with families who have significantly more resources.

We gathered in a conference room at 1515 Broadway to put together the care packages. Event leader and Viacom employee Sarah Nix explained that they would go to those who lacked running water in their home.

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Viacom Employees Unite in Global Show of Diversity and Inclusion

by Karla Melara, Viacom

When more than 60 Viacom employees from London, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville and New York convened for two days recently at the company’s global headquarters in Times Square, they had more than just their employer in common. In addition to their day jobs, they are all dedicated leaders in the company’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which work through our Office of Global Inclusion (OGI), to continually build an environment of inclusiveness. They had assembled in Viacom’s cavernous White Box event space for OGI’s first-ever ERG Leadership Summit.

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