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Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, VP, diversity & communications, CBS Television Network

Women's Impact Report 2012: Executives

Smith-Anoa’i is still working in a relatively new field; her position didn’t exist five years ago at CBS until she pitched it to her bosses. Now, she oversees the annual CBS Diversity Symposium, this past year bringing GLAAD and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender into the fold, started up the CBS Daytime Writing Program, and is the force behind the CBS on Tour Mentoring Program, which sends executives into classrooms to educate students about potential careers at the, well, Tiffany network. “I say that quite often,” she says, “I say I’m Tiffany from the Tiffany network — that’s why they hired me!”

What we should know: “As it relates to television and the entertainment industry overall, we are broadcasters and strive to reflect diversity as a whole — ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability and other ideologies which all exist in society for our viewers, both in front of the camera as well as behind. Diversity is not just the ‘right’ thing to do — it is an important and integral part of the business model that should be respected as such. ”

Words of wisdom: “Be relentless in your pursuit, do your research and come prepared each and every day. Network, network, network and never be afraid to ask — you’d be surprised how many times people say ‘yes’ to what you need if you just ask. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be a mentor, and don’t be discouraged if they say no.”

Smartphone habits: “It’s just an extension of my hand now, it’s part of my body. I have a BlackBerry, and I make an effort when I’m on vacation not to be on it during the day — but when the day is done and I’m back in my hotel room, I will take it out and look at it.”

Life-work balance: “My husband is very hands-on, and I have an extremely involved mother who lives with us. Having your mother looking after your child gives you peace of mind, so I can really focus at work. And yes, my husband and my mother get along swimmingly.”

Charitable passion: “The Diamond in the Raw organization is devoted to transforming and empowering the lives of at-risk teenage girls; as the mother of an 8-year-old daughter, it’s important for me to give back to girls and show them what opportunities are available. When we speak at events, sometimes I’ll bring my daughter along and let these girls know someone is there for them, to expose them to the opportunities that are out there and educate them to encourage them to continue their education. Sometimes we meet children who live in L.A. but have never been to the beach. And we try to let them know that not everyone in TV is an actor!”

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