Diversity and inclusion have become paramount in the sports business industry as teams, leagues, and the companies with which they are partners try to more closely reflect the desires of their players, fans, and their customers alike.
“Sports is really one of the few institutions in the world that attracts people from all walks of life,” said Val Ackerman, Big East commissioner. “It stands to reason that if your fan base looks like that and your athlete base looks like that, then the business of sports has to reflect that in its personnel ranks.”
However, there are still obstacles to overcome when it comes to diversity in the workplace.
“If leadership doesn’t address it, then it doesn’t change,” said Zaileen Janmohamed, Head of Partnership Development at U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Properties. “It is that big an issue, it is that controversial. It can have so much positive or negative effect on an organization that it needs a person at the top to say, ‘Okay, this is important, and we’re really going to do something about it,’” she added.
But who is responsible for making that happen?
“I place responsibility on myself to ask the human resources team that is screening the candidates,” said Portia Archer, chief operating officer of the NBA G League. “I’m asking them where they are looking to find these candidates and to make sure they have a diverse set of candidates presented to us."
The industry is filled with talented, driven and creative people who are committed to making sports a cultural leader by changing that of itself.
“We all know that it’s not glamorous most of the time,” said Molly Mazzolini, Head of Brand Integration at Infinite Scale. “But it’s an incredible opportunity to work in the sports industry because sports really brings us together and we have a responsibility to do it.”
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