Johnita P. Due is senior vice president and chief diversity, equity & inclusion officer for CNN, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, and WarnerMedia Studios at Warner Bros. Discovery. Due, who is based in Atlanta and joined CNN as a media lawyer in 2003, was appointed to the newly created role in 2019.
Due explains how she’s making diversity a priority in the workplace, and offer tips for young people looking to build a career similar to hers.
How do you make diversity a priority for an organization?
It is an all-hands-on-deck approach to trying to change our country. Working within a corporation has really given me the opportunity, especially working within a news organization, where it’s part of our mission and responsibility to shed light on truth and to tell stories that matter and will make a difference. That just goes back to what Ida B. Wells always said, which was ‘The way to right wrongs is to shine the light of truth upon them.’ So to be able to work within a news organization that is committed to storytelling and committed to making a difference just makes my job easier, because I don’t have to convince people that reflecting our audiences, and telling stories about the Black community and other multicultural communities makes sense. It’s just a matter of ensuring that we’re doing that on an ongoing basis in a way that’s going to resonate in a way that really will lead to change.
What would you share with a young person who’s hoping to have a career like yours?
Sometimes you have to be your own best publicist, and you have to advocate for yourself. Oftentimes, we rely on other people to advocate for us and the hope is we will develop those mentoring relationships. We will have mentors, we will have role models that we can look up to, but you have to have confidence in yourself. Don’t let other people define you or minimize you. We’re not all going to get the opportunities or the promotions that we want, but you go for what you think you deserve. If it doesn’t work out, believe in yourself because sometimes you’ll discover that there are different paths to get you to the same place that you wanted to go, or paths will take you somewhere else that you never thought were possible.
It is good to look for those mentors and those role models who can also guide you and support you and advocate for you as well. I feel that there’s so much opportunity and at CNN, you see diversity and a reflection of diversity on air but behind the scenes, it’s just as important. We’ve been really committed to trying to develop our pipeline and make sure that people feel like they have equitable opportunities for advancement.