NBC Exec Calls for Diversity in Corporate Offices (and First-Class Cabins)

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Lauren Zalaznick writes that the 'Ivory Tower' of the esteemed flight status needs minorities and women.

NBC Universal executive Lauren Zalaznick has taken her share of first-class flights -- and the cultural make-up of the cabin speaks volumes about the need for greater equality in corporate America in her view.

Even now the obsessive cataloguer, and president of NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, sees the exclusive flight cabin as being "92 percent Caucasian" and mostly male. As she writes in an op-ed piece for the Daily Beast, this is an effective measure of minority/gender progress in corporate life as well.

While warning that "there is neither subtlety nor any science to my survey," she points out that her frequent flights show a need for improved social progress.

"I'd like to see the racial and gender balance in the C-suite and its transportation mirror, the first-class cabin move faster than the certain but incremental progress I've seen in my own working life," Zalaznick writes.

Across her tens of thousands of travel miles less than 4 percent of her fellow first-class passengers were African-American, while just under 5 percent were Asian. All others, including Hispanics, totaled 2 percent -- with men outnumbering women significantly in all groups.

While first class was originally marketed by American Airlines as "The Ivory Tower" for the leading corporate minds to unwind in travel, Zalaznick says this population make-up should change in 2010.

"Surely, the Ivory Tower should allow for a bit more color in the almost 50 years hence," she writes.

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